Hail Satan! Okay not really, but Cloven Hoof gave us this blasphemous offering in the year 1984. It was their first full length release, which came two years after their 1982 debut, the self-released EP The Opening Ritual. The spirit of the NWOBHM was strong in these dudes, and this seven track album is quite a nice nugget.
Cloven Hoof was released by Neat Records in the U.K., and was licensed to Roadrunner Records for release in other areas. The Roadrunner version may have actually came out in 1983. If you look at the picture below of the LP label on the Roadrunner pressing, it says 1983 on it. Most of the reference material I have read says Cloven Hoof came out in 1984, so I’m really not sure.
My Worthless Opinion: I like what the Hoof was laying down. This is a solid NWOBHM entry that unfortunately suffers from a crappy recording. The guitars sound very treble-y and a little sloppy; mixed with too much signal. The guitars really should have been dialed back. The Castle Records CD edition of this album (released in 2002) contains three bonus tracks recorded for the BBC Friday Rock Show in 1983. Two of these bonus tracks, Crack The Whip and Laying Down The Law, also appear on the LP. Compare the production of the 1984 LP versions to the 1983 versions recorded for BBC. The production on the BBC Friday Rock Show versions are far superior to the LP versions. I wish the Cloven Hoof album had this kind of production! Anyway, enough about the production, on to the songs. The opening number, a track called Cloven Hoof , opens with the line “The house of God has been violated...”. I guess you can tell from the start that Cloven Hoof walks on the left hand path. The song goes on to tell the tale of a Satanic ritual, and is kind of spooky like a good horror movie. I like the atmosphere of the tune. Ol’ Hoof were looking to provoke a bit of shock, no doubt, with their occult lyrics and imagery. Similarly, Nightstalker, Gates Of Gehenna and Return Of The Passover are black-hearted and wicked. Meanwhile, Crack The Whip and Laying Down The Law are Saxon-like, straightforward rockers. Cloven Hoof is prime (though late to the party) NWOBHM, definitely worth checking out! My score: B+