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.

RockWich 2018 – ‘Unplugged’, Lostock Club, 25th August 2018

01 RockWich 2018 Unplugged

RockWich 2018 – ‘Unplugged’
Saturday 25th August 2018
Lostock Club, Northwich
Review By Beth Jones

It seemed hard to believe it had been a year since we were last descending on the Lostock Club, in the heart of the industrial end of Cheshire for RockWich 2017, but here we were; and following a host of great line up announcements, we were excited. The Saturday ‘Unplugged’ night was promising to be a great, but slightly more mellow lead in to the main event on the Sunday!

The Lostock club is a real throwback venue; a proper nod to the good old days of the 80’s and early 90’s, complete with a decibel meter to the side of the stage, which spent the weekend in an apoplectic state! Nothing says ‘Old Skool’ more than a working men’s club on an industrial estate, and it makes the perfect venue for this event, who love to show us that old-skool is still very, very cool!

The line up on the Saturday night offered familiar names in the shape of The Senton Bombs and Cadence Noir, and new names to us, Baxter and The Howling Tides.

First up were Baxter, a seasoned local duo who specialise in ‘acoustic tunes and daft banter’, and just like Ronseal, they do exactly what they say on the tin. They took us though a vast selection of 80’s and 90’s covers, performed accomplishedly and loved by all. It was a great way to kick off the event as they were fun, light-hearted and didn’t take themselves too seriously. Their talent and experience showed clearly in their relaxed and commanding performance, which warmed the audience up on what was turning out the be the first wet and chilly day mother nature had subjected us to in a good few months!

02 RockWich Unplugged Baxterhttps://www.facebook.com/baxterduo/

Next up were Uttoxeter based band, The Howling Tides, a fairly new name to the scene, having only been formed in 2014. I am clearly getting old, as my first thought was ‘aww bless, they’re so young’, but that quickly turned from awww to awe when they started playing. Even in this acoustic setting, they grabbed our attention instantly, with their accomplished and extremely well-rehearsed performance which had all the hallmarks of a band serious about their future. They are essentially Classic Heavy Rock and Blues, but this setting really brought out their softer side! Their song writing skills are exciting and their arrangements intelligent. Lead singer Rob Baynes has a very appealing gravelly tone to his voice, which works perfectly with this style. It is also worth mentioning here that this was only their second acoustic gig ever! Hats off to them! We were impressed enough to buy their EP straight after their set, and really want to catch them in a full-on gig soon.

03 RockWich Unplugged The Howling Tideshttps://www.facebook.com/TheHowlingTides/

The Senton Bombs had been billed as headliners for the unplugged night but, at the last minute, the lead guitarist became otherwise engaged, so after a quick swap of instruments, followed by a quick, and probably stressful rework of some songs, they decided to swap the headline spot with Cadence Noir and come on next with a shortened, but no less impressive version of their set. Lead vocalist and bass player Joey Class took on rhythm guitar duties, which he pulled off without a hitch. Kudos to them for doing this – it can’t have been easy, and it shows a very commendable level of professionalism. We saw these guys last year on the main day and loved them, and they have a very dedicated fan base who were also slightly tipsy by this point, so audience participation ensued, which only enhanced the great atmosphere that was building around the room. There sound was still full, even without bass guitar, and they had a very ‘cool as a cucumber’ feel, even though they were out of their comfort zone. For those of you who haven’t yet seen these guys, they are hard rockers full of energy and always give a great live performance – well worth checking out.

04 RockWich Unplugged The Senton Bombshttps://www.facebook.com/thesentonbombs/

Closing the night were Bloodstock M2TM North Wales 2018 winners, Cadence Noir, freshly back from their performance on the Bloodstock New Blood stage a couple of weeks previously, and raring to go! We properly love these guys, because they are totally in a genre of their own. Billing themselves as ‘Gothic Folk and Roll’ they take elements from so many genres and meld them all together in some weird alchemy that somehow works. Their image is folk pirate with a hint of bondage, and their music follows suit! They have a highly accomplished string section, in the shape of Emma Bennett on Violin and Tom Smith who switches between conventional electric bass, and Double bass, which gives them a real depth and a natural acoustic feel, strong rhythms provided by Dave on percussion and Nick on guitar (who wasn’t with them for this performance) and front man Adrien Perrie brings in the rock, with a gritty powerful voice, a commanding stage presence, and a glint in his eye that Jack Sparrow would be proud of! Their songs are full of quirky humour and Adrien’s banter and confidence makes their performances mesmerising. This is a band that seriously know how to make a performance fun to watch. The Idol Dead vocalist Polly Phluid even joined them onstage for a track and it worked a treat! Everyone was merry by this point! It was a great way to end the night, and to set people up for the full day to follow.

05 RockWich Unplugged Cadence Noirhttps://www.facebook.com/CadenceNoir/

We had a top night, and headed home, thanking our lucky stars that we lived close enough not to need to camp in the rain. With ‘The Howling Tides’ EP cranked up on the car stereo we started looking forward to a Sunday full of ROCK!

SOCIAL LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/408497059344112/
https://www.facebook.com/PrometheusPromotionsSoundandLight/

 

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

All photos courtesy of Beth Jones and PhotograBee Images
https://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages/