Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cloven Hoof

"Cloven Hoof was originally formed in the heart of the industrial West Midlands, England in 1979. The group went through various line up changes until Spring 1982 when the band line up consisted of Lee Payne bass guitar, David Potter vocals, Steve Rounds lead guitar and Kevin Poutney drums. The first demo tape the band did together was given the thumbs up from no lesser stars than Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) who took a copy of the tape into national Radio One, and Rob Halford (Judas Priest) who got it played on a radio station in Phoenix, Arizona. The station was bombarded with heavy metal callers who wanted to know more about the band. Soon afterwards the group were taken under the wing of ex-Judas Priest manager David Hemmings.
Cloven Hoof is:
Joe Whelan / Lead Vocals
Lead Guitar
Lee Payne / Bass guitar
Jake Oseland / Drums
Chris Coss / Guitar
"The Opening Ritual" a four track mini album was released in July of 1982, and the EP stayed in the "Sounds" and "Kerrang" heavy metal charts for six weeks peaking at number 18. Articles in "Kerrang" and "Noise" magazine followed by Geoff Barton tipping the band for the top in his prestigious "Breaking through in '82 feature," and play list. "The image adopted by ourselves during this period was worth noting because there were 4 band members, I came up with a concept featuring the names Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Outlandish stage costumes were donned and heavy Kiss- style makeup and masks. We wanted to be the band we always wanted to see and hear…total senses overkill. In a lot of ways I think we were ahead of our time, because our vision of combining image and music was perfectly suited to the multi media sci-fi games market. And remember we were doing the masks thing years before Slipknot and all the others. I suppose we must have influenced many bands in presenting themselves in a hard rocking theatrical way, but the music always came first!!!" "The project drew huge attention and major labels were queuing up to sign the band, the high chart position was a big help too". (Lee Payne)
Over in America Rob Stradansky was championing the band's cause in his "Metal Rendezvous" magazine and college radio stations were airing it on their playlists. A worldwide buzz was growing and international stardom seemed a formality. However bad contract advice and publishing infighting put paid to a huge recording deal. The untimely death of David Hemmings, the bands manager was another terrible blow. An independent label was the only alternative for Cloven Hoof to once again gather momentum without the support of a major label at the helm.
Undeterred the group's "The Opening Ritual" attained air play on numerous radio stations worldwide but it was not until Tommy Vance and Geoff Barton played tracks off the EP on Radio One in the UK that the Cloven ones carrier really began to break into a gallop. 1983 saw Cloven Hoof touring throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, earning themselves a sizeable underground cult following.
In the summer of that year the band recorded a four track session for Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show on Radio One and a similar session for Beacon Radio for DJ Mike Davies. On the strength of the band's popularity, Neat Records signed the outfit to record the album "Cloven Hoof." The opus notched up sales figures of 24,000 units in 1984 alone and it became apparent that the band's gigging activities would have to stretch further afield due to success of sales overseas. A European tour was organised that year culminating in the "Shockwave" festival in Genk, Belgium, "The Dynamo" club in Eindhoven, Holland was another highlight of the gigs abroad. These venues provided some of the most enthusiastic heavy metal fans the band had experienced. The applause at the end of these sets was astounding.
A Metal Hammer compilation album featured the track "Crack the Whip" from the debut album. Another compilation album entitled "Metal Inferno" contained the tracks 'The Gates of Gehenna' and 'Laying down the Law'.
The next album was a live album featuring a whole set of new songs called "Fighting Back", this was a very ambitious undertaking, with Rob Kendrick (ex Trapeze and Budgie) replacing David Potter on vocals. The reviews for the albums were generally very good. Dave Ling of 'Metal Hammer' and Mike Davies of 'Brum Beat' were particularly enamoured. Unfortunately after this record, contractual and internal problems forced the band to split apart, leaving only founder member Lee Payne to soldier on.
A new line up was eventually established, comprising of Lee Payne on Bass, Russ North on vocals, Andrew Wood on guitar and Jon Brown on drums. They signed a recording deal with FM Revolver, and a publishing deal with Trinifold. The artists Trinifold managed at the time included Robert Plant The Who and Judas Priest.
"Dominator" a Sci-Fi concept album was released in 1988 on FM Revolver, produced by Guy Bidmead who worked with Motorhead, Cozy Powell and Whitesnake. This line up played many blistering concerts throughout the UK. Andy and Russ (both ex Tredegar) re-energised the band with their experience and enthusiasm. Lee and Jon provided a rock solid bass and drum onslaught that surpassed all previous line ups. So much so that many big name bands refused to give the band a support slot for fear of being upstaged or blown away.
"A Sultans Ransom" the last album release from this period was considered one of the best British heavy metal releases of the year by 'Metal Hammer' magazine. Chris Welch the editor no less gave the album an illustrious 4 star review and labelled it "a flagon of mystical metal." The same year a further four track session was recorded for the Tommy Vance show consisting of... 'Night Riders on the Astral Plain' and 'Fox on the Run'. Lee Jones another ex member of the band Tredger was added to the line up on duel lead guitar and his powerful rhythm work is heard along with Andy on this session. In 1990 however the band decided to shelve its activities due to contractual reasons once again. Cloven Hoof was sadly for all intents and purposes in a process of suspended animation... but one day the beast would rise again!
Which brings us to Eye of the Sun album... In order to make the Cloven Hoof resurrection possible, the band had to enlist producer Tom Galley of Phenomena fame. Tom had worked with Brian May, Scott Gorham, Glen Hughes etc and the end result was a Cloven Hoof metal masterpiece. The prime criteria that needed to be met was the album had to have flawless production and feature songs that bore all the classic Cloven Hoof metal hard rocking trade marks but also incorporate new and interesting inflections of blues, classical and jazz that were creeping into the band's playing. This 'back to roots, gothic edge' appealed to old and new fans alike.
Since the glorious reformation of the band, Cloven Hoof have gone on to perform to rapturous receptions playing live in Italy, Finland, Spain, Holland, Greece, Germany and Belgium. The bands popularity is now larger than ever.
Mick Powell and Ben Read stepped into the twin lead guitar roles after the Eye of the sun line up. Jon Brown as ever remained the man behind the drum kit joining Russ North on vocals and Lee Payne on bass. A new recording "The Definitive Part One" was released to great worldwide critical acclaim. It was a re recorded best of album featuring the songs most beloved by the fans. They voted for the tracks in a poll on the official web site.
The band followed it up with the astounding “Throne of Damnation” EP. Matt Moreton took over on vocal duties once again but ill health made it impossible to commit to the band long term. It was a great pity because Matt's fantastic voice and commanding stage presence would of been spectacular live on stage.
In 2009 from the mind of Tim Schafer came the ultimate heavy metal action game 'Brutal Legend' starring Jack Black. Along with an impressive soundtrack including Judas Priest, Motorhead, Cloven Hoof's 'Nightstalker' track was selected to reinforce the band's growing status.
The group has undergone various line up changes as is customary for a band with a 30 year history of making uncompromising British metal music but now the band is back with a brand new line up consisting of Joe Whelan / Vocals and Lead Guitar, Lee Payne / Bass Guitar, Chris Coss / Rhythm Guitar, Jake Oseland / Drums. Infused with new blood and a forthcoming studio album called “Resist or Serve” Cloven Hoof are primed and ready to gain their rightful place amongst the heavy metal big hitters." --from the band's website.
Cloven Hoof - Deliverance (Resist Or Serve 2014)
Cloven Hoof - Brimstone and Fire (Resist or Serve 2014)
Cloven Hoof - Call of the Dark Ones

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