CD Reviews

Cloven Hoof - 'Throne Of Damnation' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 11, 2010    
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Three-track EP by NWOBHM stalwarts Cloven Hoof.

NWOBHM stalwarts Cloven Hoof’s latest release ‘Throne Of Damnation’ has had a difficult birth. Replacing frontman Russ North with Matt Moreton (who, incidentally, sang on the 2006 album ‘Eye Of The Sun’ before North returned to the fold) midway though meant that the vocals had to be redone from scratch, and then a hiccup at the pressing plant led to an eleventh-hour switch to a different plant. The CD finally arrived about six months late, but the truth about the Hoof is that it’s a damn good release. 
It’s actually viewed as a three-track EP featuring new songs ‘Running Man’, ‘Prime Time’ and ‘Freak Show’ with two bonus cuts – re-workings of ‘Whore Of Babylon’ and ‘Night Stalker’ from the ‘Brutal Legend’ game. It opens with the aforementioned and extremely clever Maiden-esque ‘Running Man’; from Day One the Hoof have been known for their time changes and this cut is a prime example as rhythms bob and weave, and that time change in the chorus still catches me even now.
The revamped ‘Whore Of Babylon’, originally from ‘Eye Of The Sun’, follows. Nothing wrong with it as a song, but maybe familiarity breeds contempt, or maybe it’s just completely overwhelmed by what comes next. Slap bang in the middle of the running order comes the band’s tour de force: ‘Freak Show’ is a great song, its lilting intro giving way to a full-on juggernaut of Metallica proportions: well composed and well delivered, it features a great vocal performance from the returning Moreton and some stunning guitar work from Ben Read. As founder member Lee Payne, who’s kept the band going all these years, notes: ‘I feel the bandwidth of the EP is very broad indeed; and I think ‘Freak Show’ is an all time Hoof classic.’
The final newbie ‘Prime Time’ shows the band flexing its muscles and exploring modern-day power metal, even throwing some rap into the blend. As for closer ‘Night Stalker’, this has NWOBHM stamped all over it, which is certainly no bad thing in itself. It also features for the first time lead vocals by Payne. ‘My guide vocals were thought by Ben and Jon [Brown – drums] too good not to be used, so we left it in. So my full singing debut can be heard as a bonus track… Hope you like it!’ he added nervously. And to be fair the bassist acquits himself admirably.
The cover’s, uh, interesting, but don’t let that put you off. Snap up a copy from

John Tucker

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