|Cloven Hoof are probably one of the most underrated New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands ever. An original copy of their 1982 debut E.P. »The Opening Ritual« (released on Elemental Music) is changing hands for a small fortune nowadays. However, with their following albums »Cloven Hoof« (1984), a live album entitled »Fighting back« (1986) and »Dominator« (1988) the band explored new sonic landscapes (almost verging into Power Metal territory at times).
»A Sultan’s Ransom«, Cloven Hoof’s third studio longplayer, originally released in 1989, was an overlooked gem of an album and included fantastic songs such as “Astral Rider” or “Mistress Of The Forest”. Shortly after the release of the album the original Cloven Hoof split up.
Bassist Lee Payne re-formed the band around the year 2000 (initially including singer Russ North). 2006’s »Eye Of The Sun« was a more than decent comeback album.
Following the release of the album Cloven Hoof appeared at numerous prestigious festivals all over the world. Lee Payne remembers: “We actually played the ‘Keep it True festival’ in Germany twice, the second time we liked the best because we were more rehearsed. ‘Bang Your Head’ festival was also in Germany and was very memorable because we played in torrential rain. The promoters said it was dangerous to go on in such hazardous conditions but we said we would go on because our fans were braving the storm. If they can do it, then so can we! We did ‘Play It Loud’ in Italy, ‘Up The Hammers’ festival in Greece, ‘R-Mine’ festival and ‘Rock Of Ages’ festival in Belgium, ‘Headbangers Open Air’ in Germany. ‘Metal Bats’ festival in Spain. There’s Finland, we have done countless festivals all over the world. Cloven Hoof like nothing better than to spread the metal message across the globe.”
»The Definitive Part I« (from 2008) saw Cloven Hoof re-recording some of their greatest hits. However, this was just a stopgap for the brand new studio album »Resist Or Serve«. With a completely new line up including Lee Payne (bass), Joe Whelan (vocals, guitar), Chris Cross (guitar) and Jake Oseland (drums) some might argue that is indeed the definitive Cloven Hoof studio album. Songs like the forceful opener “Call Of The Dark Ones”, “Brimstone And Fire” or “Anti Matter Man” show all the trademarks of a classic Cloven Hoof record. Founding member Lee Payne confirms: “The new album is indeed classic Cloven Hoof all the way. The fans want it and we do too! Our sound is now very defined and to break away from the essence of what made the band what it is would be a big mistake. I know what the fans love about the band because they tell me through thousands of e-mails. We were determined to release an album uncontaminated from any external influences and deliver a 100% Cloven Hoof true metal album. High Roller is the only label that encourages a true metal band to do that. That is why they are the perfect label for us. They stand for quality and keeping it real on vinyl and CD.”
As already mentioned, »Resist Or Serve« is a mighty fine effort. Is it fair to say that it is the direct follow-up to 2006’s »Eye Of The Sun«? Lee Payne feels flattered: “Thanks for your kind words, my friend. The playing on »Eye Of The Sun« was top notch, so there is a comparison there and the production is astounding too. Patrick Engel is a genius and a true metal producer in every sense, he really made the new album very heavy and dynamic. I feel »Resist Or Serve« is more in keeping with our debut album because it is dark sounding, aggressive and back to the spirit of the N.W.O.B.H.M.”