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Cloven Hoof: The Opening Ritual

You want the Hoof? You can’t handle the Hoof!

Riding high during the early-80s peak of NWOBHM, Cloven Hoof seemed to have all the pieces in place to launch a formidable career, not least ex-Judas Priest manager David Hemmings and a completely bonkers image centred around the occult, the individual band members personifying the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

Their four-track debut EP, The Opening Ritual, is bolstered here with their first demo and the previously unreleased Nightstalker. Inevitably, the sound quality falls victim to tight budgets, but that doesn’t detract from the spark and fire present in opener Gates Of Gehenna, the wide-eyed enthusiasm of That’s The Way It Goes and the hungry bite of A Piece Of The Action.

A neat snapshot of simpler times, this should make metal historians more than happy./o:p