Kerrang! September 1988
Written by Lyn Guy
My first brush with Cloven Hoof was back in 1986, when our very own underground Metal expert Paul Miller mentioned their impending resurgence during a summary of the British Metal scene within the pages Mega Metal Kerrang! issue one. Two years later the hooted ones have re-emerged with a brand spanking new album featuring a reshuffled four piece line up (including ex-Tredegar boys Russ North on vocals and Andy Wood on guitar) and a complete change in approach.
The result, which is busily pumping its way through my audio system as I write, is...would you believe...a concept album! Quite what possessed Cloven Hoof to attempt that much maligned and, in their position, overly ambitious format is yet to be revealed. However, 'Dominator; does actually make for relatively interesting listening, particularly for Iron Maiden fans and admirers of early '80's British Metal.
Eight tracks, set in the future, relate to the story of a space war that decimates the world as we know it, leaving our wasted planet to be occupied by invaders from another galaxy (The Draconian Federation, no less). The few survivors go on the run to escape a scientifically created master-race led by The Dominato, until they are finally able to rise against their oppressors in a last desperate fight for freedom. The possibilities for a stage show involving this story are endless. Just think - 'Star Wars' at your local rock club!
Getting back to basics, Cloven Hoof have produced an intense, powerful and well-executed album. The slow, desolate build up of 'Warriors Of The Wasteland' is particularly noteworthy and I love the muppet-style voices of the aliens during 'Invaders'. On the negative side though, the title track is extremely disjointed, with the vocal melody appearing to have been put onto the wrong backing track.
The overall impression created by this record is that of 'Back To The Future', because, despite their admirable playing abilities (and believe me, these guys can play!), the band manage to sound at least five years out of date! 'Dominator' may not be the best HM album to be released this year, but it is also far from the worst. AsI said earlier - one for the NWOBHM devotees.
Metal Forces September 1988
Written by Dave Parker
I've never really liked these guys too much, however this ain't half bad. This album's for the NWOBHM type of person, very early 80's British style metal.
With a new line up featuring ex-Tredegar members, Russ North on vocals and Andy Wood on guitars this album has a very sci-fi feeling to it. It all seems to relate to those 'little green men from Mars' invading the planet and taking us over until 'The Dominator' comes to rescue and kicks shit out of them.
Anyway, nuff of that, this is a well produced concept album with four guys of very admirable musicianship, however the sleeves a bit dodgy, kinda like "Pandora Peroxide" gone wrong, concluding that this is an interesting and very cleverly written album.
Metal Hammer October 1988
Written By The Lord
'A Sultan's Ransom'
'A Sultan's Ransom'
Metal Hammer October 1989
Written by Chris Welch
This is the fourth album by the band celebrating its tenth anniversary, so they should know what they are doing. And they storm into attack at full tilt on the opening number 'Astral Rider'. This features singer Russ North, he one of the mysterious magical eyes, who probably conjures a few spirits and demons when he's not rocking out with Andrew Wood's swirling lead guitar lines. The band are completed by the mighty J.B. on drums and Lee Payne (bass guitar), and between them they brew a foaming flagon of astro-physical metal that flies on wings of steel. And if that mixes metaphors then there seems to be quite a mix of influences at work in Hoof's music. There is an almost Seventies feel to the arrangement of 'Forgotten Heroes' and there is no slackening the pace on the helter skelter madness of 'D.V.R' with some of Andrew's most frantic and inventive guitar slashing. It may be my record player (a steam powered Edison-O-Graph with a zinc stylus and real leather speakers) but the drums sound a bit lost in the mix on many of the tracks. I could have done with a bit more bottom end (as Noel Coward once said) on 'Jekyll and Hyde' and more cutting edge to the snare drum and Lee Payne's bass guitar doesn't have much presence. You only have to compare the drum and guitar sound with Jeff Beck's latest LP to see what I mean. Even so the essential ingredients of the vocals and guitars are well projected and the Russ sure can hit those high notes. At times he reminds me of the great Arthur Brown of 'fire' fame.
Some of the most advanced guitar work comes on 'Idol Nights' where Andrew sounds like a full orchestra of axemen at work. The tune on this one goes on a bit, but I like 'Silver Surfer' with more stratospheric stuff from the singer. He's more restrained on the chiming 'Notre Dame'. The material and style is a bit dated but Cloven Hoof are sticking to their trotters - sorry guns - and good luck to 'em.