Cloven Hoof – “Resist Or Serve” (High Roller Records)
Blasting in from the NWOBHM heavens comes Cloven Hoof – a name that I haven’t heard since they graced the new bands section of Kerrang! back in 1982. I remember at the time they had a very metal theatrical image, even going under ridiculous ‘elemental’ monickers – well, from those days only founder bassist Lee ‘Air’ Payne remains and thankfully the Dr Who costumes (and make up – Ed) have long been chucked out! At the time being marketed as serious contenders for the US market, even being taken under the wing of ex-Judas Priest manager David Hemmings, matters fell under the hoof after Hemmings untimely death, and later contractual and legal problems that effectively put an end to the band despite press support and a by then underground following both in the UK and also in Europe. Over the years resurrected with different lineups by Payne, who has remained steadfastly loyal to his creation as have the band’s fans, I have to say I’m highly impressed with 2014 Hoof, following passionately in the footsteps of the NWOBHM in playing meat n potatoes metal with elements of 80s Priest n Maiden, but most of all, a pure heavy – and I mean HEAVY – metal sound that members of today’s True Metal fraternity will go into ecstasy for as would any lover new or old of this traditional British sound. Payne has got it right this time with his band, bypassing any ‘names’ and instead going for the new blood with their youthful hunger and energy for screaming power vocals, molten metal to the max riffs, warrior melodies and a charging beast hoard making up the rhythm of Payne’s own heavy bass and young Jake Oseland’s power drumming! Together they bring back the spirit of the NWOBHM in all its glory, not as a sodden re-hash but as a modern continuum armed with a massively raw n crushing sound able to stand its ground amongst today’s more extreme metallers thanks to heavy duty songs like ‘Brimstone And Fire’, ‘Helldiver’ and ‘Austrian Assault’ – a very metal salute to Payne and his passion!