Cloven Hoof live @ Coalition T.O on Tuesday 18th September 2018
Make way for heavy metal royalty! New wave of British heavy metal veterans Cloven Hoof are making their debut in Canada, with Toronto being the sole Canadian date on their North American tour. There’s no doubt that Toronto’s subterranean metal scene is heavy metal-leaning so it’s surprising and disheartening to see the Coalition is accommodating just 30 – 40 heavy metal maniacs tonight.
The original member of Cloven Hoof is bassist Lee Payne, who has worked with innumerable skilled musicians since their formation in 1979. Interestingly, the English band kicks off with “Inquisitor” from their reunion album Eye of the Sun. This thrash-tinged heavy metal opener preps the Coalition for a spirited performance tonight. “Sons of Orpheus” from last year’s Who Mourns for the Morning Star, like the rest of the tracklist on the album, incorporates more modern hard rock and power metal elements than their popular ‘80s material.
Singer George Call has a praiseworthy voice but some of his higher register notes are not backed by the power that they have on record (possibly related to tour fatigue?). However, he effortlessly takes on the role of esteemed Cloven Hoof vocalist Russ North with the song “Highlander” from 1989’s A Sultan’s Ransom. This song features mesmerizing flawless duelling guitar harmonies, a true highlight in the band’s repertoire, accompanied by heroic falsetto vocals. “Gates of Gehenna” from the self-titled debut album is rougher but very memorable, a quintessential NWoBHM number.
The Cloven Hoof album supports five songs from the set, including the title track, “Time to Burn” and “Crack the Whip”. But one of the night’s best gifts arrives with “Laying Down the Law”, with Call walking off stage, into the crowd and shoving the microphone into punters’ faces to sing the titular lyric. Throughout the show, Call frequently encourages the audience to sing along to his vocal lines and it’s not a struggle to get the crowd to participate. Payne has a vigorous stage presence, almost throwing his bass around as he pounds it. The Coalition’s sound isn’t perfect, but the audience are 100% behind these heavy metal warriors.
Older number “Reach for the Sky” is a master class in heavy metal composition. Following this monster of a track, Cloven Hoof take a bow and thank everyone for witnessing their maiden journey to Canada. The crowd’s roars demand an encore and the band rewards the fans with an encore of “Kiss of Evil”. Being from Eye of the Sun, the fans are less familiar with the closer than they are with the pre-reunion material but no one complains about hearing more from this five-piece. The band announces that they would be more than happy to talk to fans at their merch booth afterwards, a great ending for the heavy metal loyalists who came out tonight.