A couple of years ago, nobody could guess that George Call of the legendary ASKA (and a couple of more bands) would join the NWOBHM pioneers CLOVEN HOOF. Not only he came from a country far, far away but also had a somewhat different music perspective: You see, US bands have distinct features that differ them from British or European acts. Yet not only he introduced himself through great CLOVEN HOOF album –Who Mourns for the Morning Star?- but he even repeated the mission on this year’s “Age of steel”.
This album came as a surprise and frankly I did not expect it to be so good. The band continues the path that had carved with “Who Mourns for the Morning Star?”, yet they seem to be tighter with greater precision and a clear view of the sound they seek to achieve.
They blend both European and American influences, with the latter to be dominant in their music, something that should not come as a surprise since classic albums like “Dominator” or “A Sultan’s ransom” had a definite US vibe.
The album is divided in two parts, the first one consist of five songs that deal with various themes, while the second part is a five chapter story, a sequel to the “Dominator” story, however musically the album is quite solid: the band’s traditional approach is spiced up with lots of power metal influences while George Call’s vocals are stellar as always.
Songs like “Bathory”, “Apathy”, “Victim of the furies”, “Gods of war” have a more US direct/aggressive approach, while the rest are more into post NWOBHM style, blessed by those IRON MAIDEN / THIN LIZZY influences, quirky guitar themes and melodic choruses especially in tracks like “Alderley Edge”, “Ascension” or “Bedlam”. Yet all of them are products of high-quality songwriting and performing.
George Call has been integrated in the band at such a level that he seems to have been with them forever, while some songs have references to ASKA, that go beyond the vocals, something which I found pretty interesting. All the members are nailing it however I should mention the amazing guitar playing of Ash Baker who does his recording debut with CLOVEN HOOF on this release (he is also featured on the current line up of legendary melodic hard rockers RAW SILK, originally from Greece but now reestablished on UK).
I should mention that a grandiose epic song like “Return of the Passover” (from the “The Definitive Part One” release) is missing in here, yet the album is full of strong moments and progresses without problems. There are no fillers here, only killers with a couple of catchy trademark tunes like “Gods of war”, which would sound great when performed live, I am sure about it.
CLOVEN HOOF have surely surpassed themselves, which is rare for a band that has been around for such a long time. The new album rocks: It is fresh, interesting, passionate, and well performed, a must have for anyone who seeks a deal for steal. Do not let it pass you by.
P.S. Useless but fucking cool info of the day: The album’s cover art reminded me those epic artworks that Dannish IRON FIRE use on their albums.
Here is the discussion about the album in our forum pages.
Here is the our radio show from March 4th, in which we have premiered two tracks from the album (“Alderley Edge” & “Touch The Rainbow”).