Irritated over the lack of major label interest shown for their quality songwriting and arena-ready stage shows, Cloven Hoof took matters into their own hands with the release of this self-financed four-track E.P. Released in 1982 via the band's own Elemental Music imprint (a clear reference to the elements they adopted as stage names), The Opening Ritual was a well-produced affair, and proved the band's instincts correct when it quickly sold out of its initial pressing. (Eventually becoming a highly collectible item, in fact, often exchanging hands for prices in excess of three figures). Although the band's signature tune, "Gates of Gehenna," with its memorable, sub-Iron Maiden gallop, was the obvious standout, additional cuts "Storm Rider," "Back In The U.S.A.," and "Starship Sentinel" were uniformly strong compositions as well. This confident first step boded well for the group's chances -- even within the already over-crowded New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene -- and, fittingly, Cloven Hoof would soon get their much desired recording contract and begin work on their stellar first album.
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