Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Cloven Hoof & The Last Man Standing

Midlands heavy metal band Cloven Hoof continue to stamp and make themselves heard, with their popularity taking an unexpected mid-life uplift in recent years with numerous international live dates and a regular delivery of albums that have kept fans happy. Not content to rest on their laurels, plans are being made for even more activity from the band, and possibly in some unexpected quarters.

Ringing in those changes come the 31st of May is the band’s new album, Heathen Cross, to be released on High Roller Records, but ahead of that and out now on all good streaming services is the band’s latest single, ‘Last Man Standing’ a chunky riffed number, primed as live crowd singalong banger, it goes through some subtle but impressive tempo changes along the way.

You can check out the official lyric video for ‘Last Man Standing’ here at RAMzine.

This single is taken from the Heathen Cross album, that also sees the addition of new singer, Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin, known for his work with The Three Tremors, Jag Panzer and Titan Force among others, who has already played live with the band as part of a Spanish rock festival in Barcelona.

That date was apparently intended as a one-off, his accessibility as much as his vocal prowess being the prerequisite needs initially. The American born singer now lives in Greece and his wife having long been a fan of Cloven Hoof proved the catalyst when founding member and bass player Lee Payne went hunting for someone to fulfil commitments.

The New Wave of Heavy Metal stalwarts (NWOHM) are no strangers to change, having formed back in 1979, with Payne, also the band’s main songwriter, the only remaining original member. Keeping a consistent line-up is arduous for a band that needs to keep working, and for a good few years singer George Call and drummer Danny White, of US band Aska, had been part of helping make that work, but with recording and live appearances more frequently taking place in Europe, after covid, the band needed to refocus.

The addition of Chris Dando as an official addition to the band on keyboards and backing vocals has also affected Cloven Hoof’s overall sound and creative ambitions. Guitarists Luke Patton and Chris Cross have been with the band over ten years apiece, while drummer and backing vocalist Ash JD Baker makes his first full album recording with the band on Heathen Cross.

As the Witchfinder General styled cover to Heathen Cross by Alexander Von Wieding indicates, thematically it appears to take the band back to their dark metal roots, Payne again writing about mysticism and the occult and bringing a new lead character to the fore via his lyrical narratives, having previously concluded the sci-fi fantasy saga of The Dominator on 2022’s Time Assassin album – Though don’t be surprised if he throws a few twists into the mix down the line, as he’s already developing future material even before this one’s release.

But for now, with Heathen Cross, that was recorded by Dando and Ben Fitzharris then mixed by Patrick W.Engel, fans can  look forward to hearing the band on the following metal tracks: ‘Benediction’, ‘Redeemer’, ‘Do What Thou Wilt’, ‘Last Man Standing’, ‘Darkest Before The Dawn’, ‘Vendetta’, ‘Curse Of The Gypsy’, ‘Frost And Fire’, ‘Sabbat Stones’ and ‘The Summoning’ this coming May.

For a band that originally got together in Wolverhampton all those years ago, playing a form of music with its roots solidly placed in the UK, Cloven Hoof’s live footprint on British soil has been sorely missed for too long a time, but that’s about to change with two festival dates announced for later this year, alongside European dates in Germany and elsewhere planned.

This summer, Cloven Hoof will headline Mearfest festival on Friday the 30th August, at the Queens Hall in Nuneaton where they’ll be celebrating the NWOHM’s 45th anniversary with the likes of Thunderstick, Overdrive and Trojan. Tickets are available now from Mearfest’s website, and by clicking here and here.

Then at the tail-end of the year, they will be playing at Rabidfest, at The Bullingdon, in Oxford, taking place over the weekend of the 2nd – 3rd November, with the likes of Fury and Imperium, raising funds for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Cloven Hoof will take to the stage on Saturday 2nd November and tickets are available by clicking here.

For those who can’t make those festival dates, a DVD of Cloven Hoof’s appearance at the Wacken Festival in Germany, delayed by the covid pandemic, is being rescheduled for release, with tentative plans for other live recordings to be released in the future.

Plus, as was noted earlier, plans for Cloven Hoof related concepts to be developed into other media is also under discussion, such is the rich vein of creative characters Payne’s that has developed over the years. But for those who prefer to live in the present, Cloven Hoof’s Heathen Cross is due soon and can be ordered by clicking here.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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