Cloven Hoof – Age Of Steel

Cloven Hoof – Age Of Steel
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 24/04/2020
Running Time: 50:15
Reviewed by ‘Dark Juan’
Score 9/10

Greetings and salutations, my imprisoned congregation of increasingly desperate metal brethren. And Sisters. And friends of indeterminate and other genders. I am Dark Juan and I’m writing more nonsense that may or may not involve an actual record review because I am fucking WIRED on coffee and words are just spilling out of my head and onto this computer screen and there is nothing I can do to stop them…

It is Day 4 of COVID-19 isolation and I am already entertaining fantasies of eating Mrs. Dark Juan. She would barbeque so beautifully… As I gaze wistfully from the attic of Dark Juan Terrace over the roofs of West Yorkshire I dream of burning it all to the ground and creating my meisterwerk here in the name of our Dread Lord Shaitan and creating a community of heavily armed, like minded people and raising a statue of Baphomet, rendered in glorious Italian stone… Sorry, you are not to know my master plan, mere mortals! If I need you I will seek you out, and your daughters too…. Don’t try hiding them, I can smell a virgin miles away. Just got to fuck this bastard virus off before it really starts impacting my plans for world domination.

Cloven Hoof are a British heavy metal band formed in 1979 and therefore Dark Juan has literally grown up with them. I’ll be absolutely honest with you, I read the blurb for this record and the dread words “The album features the return of the Dominator character who has been genetically brought back to life…” leapt out at me and I thought that I was going to have to take this record apart. For those of you that don’t know, “Dominator” was a Cloven Hoof album released in 1988 which must surely rank as one of the most unintentionally hilarious records of all time. Everything from the cover of some bizarre painted warrior woman in high denier tights, spike heels and the world’s most incongruous bow tied around her right thigh and gleefully perpetrated all of the worst things about heavy metal at that time, even if this teenage Priest of the Damned actually really liked the song ‘Nova Battlestar’. Russ North was also a dreadful, dreadful singer…

This is not an accusation that can be levelled at current throat George Call, however. This howling monster’s voice is a pleasing mix of high falsetto a la Lord Robert “AaaaaahAAAAAAAAHHHH” Halford, the slightly lower pitch of the Air Raid Siren Brucey “Bonus” Dickinson and the rough edge of old Panzer throat Udo “Balls To The Wall Wasn’t ENTIRELY Ironic” Dirkschneider. This is as good a set of classic metal vocalists as you are going to get and gives this record a right kick up its arse. And shoves some chilli sauce up there for good measure. The record sets off at the kind of pace a North Korean achieves when crossing the DMZ towards China on opening cut ‘Bathory’. Which is about Elisabeth Bathory. Lovely girl, Liz, met her once at a Cradle Of Filth gig in Bradford. Gorgeous complexion….  The pace doesn’t let up for second song ‘Alderley Edge’. Which is probably not about footballers living there. Cloven Hoof have eschewed the kind of crystalline production that trad metal bands go for these days and have instead chosen a thicker, bass led sound which suits the music much better anyway. It is heavier than a set of lead underpants, but glossed to a high polish. Think Iron Maiden, Helloween and Accept coupled sweatily together in a meat triangle with classic Queensrÿche being a voyeur and you have the sound of Cloven Hoof on this record. However, if it is innovation you’re looking for you are not going to find it here, pilgrim. The arrangements and lyrical content are most traditional in concept and execution and the soloing from guitarists Chris and Ash also traditional in style, if marvellously performed. The underlying touch of keyboards gives the band an interest just beyond the normal for heavy metal and makes for a very pleasing change. Bass duties are taken care of by the estimable Lee Payne and he does his usual dependable job underpinning the guitars. Mark Bristow’s drumming is also top notch even if the mix is a bit chancy now and again and his mastery fades in and out on occasion. The vocal harmonies on certain songs do sound somewhat ragged at times, but this is not really a criticism as it all just seems to add to the charm of five guys clearly playing their fucking socks off and enjoying the hell out of it.

So, does Dark Juan mock “Age Of Steel” as readily as he mocks “Dominator”? The answer is an emphatic FUCK NO! Where “Dominator” became parody metal earnestly gazing at its own navel and having its head kicked in by thrash, “Age Of Steel” is a snappish, snarling beast not interested in making friends and influencing people, but would much rather be up to its elbows in gore and sinew, gobbets of ruined flesh dropping from its mouth as it turns its malevolent, hungry gaze towards you and starts to pursue….

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Cloven Hoof a most metal 9/10 for a bloody enjoyable record that reminds you of everything that is good about trad. Intelligently played, fun sounding and finally possessed of a good singer, these NWOBHM stalwarts should claim their place in the pantheon of metal greatness at last. Nice one, chaps. Took you long enough!!!

TRACKLISTING:
01. Bathory (Surprisingly not the name of an online plumbing store.)
02. Alderley Edge (Has a hanging tree. Nothing to do with Manchester City players living there.)
03. Apathy (Dark Juan has been shaken out of his by Cloven Hoof.)
04. Touch The Rainbow (Taste the rainbow… Couldn’t help myself. Not sorry!)
05. Bedlam (Generally what the inside of my mind is like.)
06. Ascension (Erection?)
07. Gods Of War (Stop nicking Def Leppard song titles, you buggers.)
08. Victim Of The Furies (Is this the name of the Cloven Hoof fan club who are going to come and lynch me if I don’t pack it in?)
09. Judas (Priest? Iscariot? Smith? Which Judas are we on about? Arnold Judas Rimmer?)
10. Age Of Steel (Wins the Dark Juan Unamusing Sarcasm Award for most metal song title in the past ten years.)

LINE-UP:
George Call – vocals
Lee Payne – bass
Chris Coss – guitars
Ash Baker – guitars
Mark Bristow – drums

LINKS:
www.clovenhoof.net/
www.facebook.com/clovenhoof1979/
www.twitter.com/ClovenHoof_Band
open.spotify.com/artist/3OD7fkHK24rI5G6yoaHzmw

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Metal Mirror – Vodka Hell and Angels

Vodka Hell And Angels Cover

Metal Mirror – Vodka Hell and Angels

Running Time 43:00

Released on 07/07/2017 (independent)

6/10 – Review by Vikkie Richmond

I’m always wary of bands that don’t have a website, although to be fair, this one is under construction.  That would have been fine, except there is no proper bio on the Facebook page either.  Call me old-fashioned, but I like to have something to go on because us lowly reviewers have to wade through a lot of music; frankly, we don’t have time to dig too deep to find information on every band.  How interesting then, that Metal Mirror’s Facebook bio simply says, “Legendary New Wave of British Heavy Metal band”.  Modest, hey?

It turns out that MM have been around since the late 1970s (their career spanned three years, from 1979 to 1982) and I suppose one has to hand it to them, because it’s always brave to come back with a new album some thirty years after you’ve released the last one.  Of course, that’s not counting the two ‘live’ albums released in 2006, the ‘compilation’ released in 2014 or the additional live album, “The Dingwalls Tapes” in 2017.

So, what about the fresh, new material?  The title track to the album, “Vodka Hell and Angels”  introduced me to Metal Mirror and straightaway I liked the big guitar sound and cymbal-heavy percussion.  Unfortunately, when the vocals kicked in, I nearly turned it off.  I’m not one to give up, so I persisted and second track, “I Love Halloween” started really promisingly, with a dirty riff, however the lyrics are pretty repetitive and that voice just really grated on me – I can’t help it.

This is such a shame, because the band’s sound is really good – track three, “One Way Ticket to Hell” has a great, pacey, get-up-and-dance quality, but the lyrics and vocals just don’t back it up.   In fact, there is track after track of belting, raw, British heavy metal here, along with some cracking guitar solos but I’m afraid it’s just not for me, purely because of the vocals.  That said, I’m aware from the band’s Facebook page that there are over 2,000 people who will probably disagree with me, but then, that’s the beauty of rock; if we all liked the same music, wouldn’t it be boring?  Tell you what, you download it and listen to it; let us know in the comments here if you disagree!

Promo Banner

Track List –

  • Vodka Hell and Angels
  • I Love Halloween
  • One Way Ticket to Hell
  • Devil In The Glass
  • Outlaw Rider
  • Long Black Train
  • Million Dollar Itch
  • Slow Game
  • Dusk Till Dawn
  • Liar Killer
  • Little Dam Punk (With A Big Big Head)
  • The Gates of Hell

Stand out tracks (purely for musicianship):  One Way Ticket to Hell, Outlaw Rider, The Gates of Hell  

Links –

 

Disclaimer: This review is the sole property of Vikkie Richmond and Ever Metal.  It is strictly forbidden to reproduce any part of this review, unless you have the explicit permission of both parties; failure to comply will be treated as plagiarism and reported to the relevant authorities.