Cloven Hoof – “The Opening Ritual” (1982)

Cloven HoofWith a name that suggests a predilection for the left-hand path, Cloven Hoof emerged from hell’s mouth with this debut offering, a four song EP (released independently via Elemental Music).  The ritual begins with The Gates Of Gehenna, a track Cloven Hoof would later re-record for their ’84 full-length debut Cloven Hoof.  A cool track, and fairly heavy for its day, The Gates Gehenna, along with Stormrider and Starship Sentinel, placed Cloven Hoof in the heavier (and somewhat more technically adept) end of the NWOBHM spectrum.  Thoughts of Priest and Maiden come to mind (don’t they always?).  Solid traditional metal right here.  The remaining cut, Back In The USA, is the superfluous third nipple of the bunch, as it cries out for American approval with its Saxon-esque, somewhat endearing nature.  Yes folks, there was actually a time when the United States was the land of milk and honey for starry-eyed heavy metal bands, a place where bands set their sights, and not a place where metal comes to die (like the present).  My score: B

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