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I'm giving this an 86 because there is only one song on the album that isnt absolutely brilliant. That being Crack of the Whip. its just a typical rock song, like something Ac/Dc would have done. Except this song is better than AcDc. The reason the song doesnt bother me is because I understand the context in which it was written. FOr a NWOBHM band to make it big, they had to sell themselves to the record companies...who unfortunately wanted them to write radio friendly rock songs. So they gave the record producers their one song....and probably only played it once for the album. The rest of the album is totally unlike that song. In fact I'd have to say out of all the songs of the NWOBHM movement. Two songs in my top five are contained on this album.
Cloven Hoof - The title track. Oh lord it begins. At first it sounds like just another NWOBHM song. But then David Potter's one time unique voice, which has now become so popular in bands like Blind GUardian, and Grave Digger, comes in and from the first line you know its gonna be good "The House of God has been violated" FUCK YEAH!. ITs heavy and brooding and calls to mind everything that heavy metal should sound like...especially NWOBHM. It has that dark doomy quality that characterized so many of the early british bands. The highlight of the song is the towards the end when the break down kicks in..right before the solo. David Potter produces some of the most awesome heavy metal vocal lines in history as a precursor to one of the most glorious solos of all time. Lee Payne is a riff master, and his solos are so well thought out that it makes me ashamed to not be as good as him. There is soo much awesome riffing. Truly a heavy metal gem. This song will forever be in my top five. Its a combination of glorious soloing, and some really fuckin rockin epic darkness.
Nightstalker - This is another great song. Less complicated than the tiltle track, but effective none the less. It contains an essential element that is lacking in modern heavy metal...and that is rock, glorious rocking. It truly is a lost art, and Cloven Hoof was damned good at it. One of the many admirable qualities of this band is some of the progressive yet doomy riffing that crops up a lot. There is a decidedly gloomy feel, but only when the band wants it. THe rocking could start up again at any time. Great track. Again David Potter makes the song for me. His vocals have soo much attitude, much needed attitude. I think he used it all up and thats why modern vocalists have none, thats why they have to turn to ball wrenching high notes.
March of the Damned (Instrumental) - Great instrumental. Very reminisent of something Blind Guardian would do. Its all here, the neo classical minstrel like flare. The idea of an intro or instrumental isnt new, but I have to say its done very very well. The guitar intricacies are commendable.
The Gate of Gehenna - Now if you're suprised that a band called Cloven Hoof named a song the gate of gehenna then your sperm probably swims away from the egg. Another great driving NWOBHM anthem. It has pretty standard riffing by modern standars, but back then it was pretty fresh. Again David Potter steals the show. Of course the guitars compliment him perfectly. ANother dark brooding heavy metal goldmine. Great guitar playing. Very classy never treading water in wankery. Some might find it boring, but for those who can truly appreciate whats being done here, hats off to you. Friends of Hammerfall and Edguy wont like it because there is no mindless double bass, fairy vocals, or super polished production. Just pure rockin' glory. Again this song ends with some of my favorite guitar playing of all time. The Payne/Potter interplay is simply masterful. The ending is so very epic that it leaves me speechless every time. All I can do is sit and listen
Crack of the Whip - you're typical AcDc rock fair. I already discussed this song at the beginning. If you're into this type of rocking , then you'll like this song. hell I like it. Its the worst on the album but still a great tune to rock to.
Layin Down the Law - OH FUCK YEAH!! This was probably their hit single that the record companies didnt want to release. This song is so fucking rockingly catchy....i'm not sure if I can say that, but I'll leave it. It so totally fits this song. The chorus is probably the catchiest thing I've ever heard. Great vocals, great riffs. This song rocks so fucking hard...that my band Harbinger had to cover it....we just had to. It would have been a mortal heavy metal sin not to. They should call the song heavy metal buffet. There are enough tasty chops here to satisfy even the hungriest heavy metal glutton. The solo is simply brilliant....not just the solo itself but the solo backing riffs. This song is so much fun to play. It'll keep your foot tapping long after all the Hammerfall fans are done chanting Legacy of Kings. THere is some truly great classic rock riffing featured here. Warning, fans of bad metal will not appreciate this...you know who you are....and even if you dont, I do.
Return of the Passover - This song, coupled with Break Free from Satan's debut Court in the Act, are quite possibly the two greatest heavy metal songs ever written......I should throw 100 MPH by Cirith Ungol in there too. But it must be understood the sheer greatness encapsuled in this song. It opens with a very eery spacey intro and some weird bass thumps that remind me of space ships docking. Now the verse riffing is pretty standard, again David Potter saves the day with his awesome vocals. Once the first run of versing ends you are treated to one of the most delightfully awesome leads ever....it kind of floats through you with harmonized greatness. The type of verse riffing has been abused countless times, but again CLoven Hoof shows you how its supposed to be done. The lyrics are so Dark and Doomy, brilliant. The only problem I have with this song is the verses are a little long so I can see how some people would get impatient with the song. But if you stick around you will come to love every part of this song. Again there is some very proggy, dare I say spacey harmonized leads that bring a smile to my face every time. Its this type of innovative song writing that was not so prevalent in the NWOBHM...and has gotten even worse now a days. The art of suspensful song writing has been lost. There is so much awesome soloing in this song....goddamn....gimme a second it just got really good.......ok, wait.....ok now. Damn that was awesome. The middle of the song has a really great break down before they go back into the verses a couple of more times. But once you get through to the titular lines of the song....oh man its heavy metal glory time. Prepare for rocking like you've never heard before. PREPARE!! IT COMES!!! My favorite solo of all time excluding Break Free's solo. This is the big one. SOOO FUCKING AWESOME. No solo will ever be as epic as this solo. The lead at the end right before the chanting starts....no lead has ever made me feel the way this one does. By the end of the song I'm so exhausted that I can't listen to another album...unless its A Sultan's Ranson....by CLoven Hoof.
Ok I need a break this is too much for me, time and time again this song brings me to the heights of heavy metal glory. If you havent heard of this band, then you really need to check them out. You're heavy metal education depends on it. No metal head should be without this release.