Cloven Hoof @ Seven Sins Club, Athens (GRE)


Date: 01st June, 2012
Venue: Seven Sins Club
Ticket: €17 ($22)
Promoter: Xigas Productions

If there was some kind of poll ‘bout the most impressive swan album from the 80s Metal scene, then British monsters CLOVEN HOOF would certainly be on top. The NWOBHM participants later on enriched their traditional Metal style with epic, melodic, power and even progressive material and delivered an excellent LP called “A Sultan’s Ransom” back in 1989 before calling it quits…for the first time. Now, more than 20 years later, the band around founding member Lee Payne and extraordinaire vocalist Russ North visited Athens, Greece for an entire performance of that significant LP plus a good doze of other CH hits. It was a shame not even 100 metalheads were present to celebrate the existence of one of the most artistically impressive albums of the British Metal school…

Two supporting bands were eager to warm up the crowd: THELEMITE presented some own material based on the classic Metal principles but with some neoclassical moves here and there and some sporadic emotional atmospheric touches in between. Their ideas for songwriting had the dynamics for some consistent mature Metal approach and the vocals were fitting in some cases. Still, they have lots of work to do in the production field and the vocalist/mainman should consider giving the microphone to a stand-alone singer for the band’s better total profile. A couple of nice played covers from Ozzy Osbourne and JUDAS PRIEST (meaning Joan Baez…) added to THELEMITE’s onstage outlook.

HEART ATTACK was the second local act to hit the stage. A classic Metal outfit too, with enough US Heavy/Power Metal addiction but also a crossing-the-border flirt with melodic Hard Rock, showcased a 50/50 setlist consisting of originals and covers. The vocalist was not in a good day, I’m afraid, while the sound was quite dim during their 40-minute set. Takes from artists like RIOT and SAVATAGE warmed the poor (by numbers) crowd while I noted down a couple of their original cuts for further “investigation” in some future gig by this sextet. Well, this was indeed a unique pleasure for CLOVEN HOOF fans: the band performed like lunatics and did not even let a minute pass by without expressing their love and adornment for the Greek fans (who – I repeat – were quite few) and certainly did their best to show why the “A Sultan’s Ransom” vinyl (and not CD as North himself also cried out) is long now considered as one of the pieces of European (and not strictly British) Metal music you should possess if considering yourself an 80s Metal fanatic. Rolling on the one-by-one presentation I was surprised to see most of the participants in the crowed were mainly looking at the stage than banging to the set’s tunes. Was it due to the lack of knowledge for the whole album, apart from a couple of mega hits (“Astral Rider”, “Highlander”) or the multi-dimensional aura of the songs themselves performed? In any way, I would imagine a bigger reaction for this unique event, especially since…

CLOVEN HOOF delivered the goods in full Metal spirit and expressive instrumentation. Six instruments in a not-that-good small venue do not solidify a fat sound but in any case the onstage spirit was high and emotional. Singer Russ North reminded us of what it takes to be called a ‘metallic voice’ with minimum signs of wear after all these years. The rest of the band, guided by the magic bass lines of Lee Payne, gave a thriving performance (the guitarists even interfered with the arena while playing at some time) making you wonder what it would be if they played in front of a 1,000 fans. A few, if any, mistakes, did not let the band down and as soon as the “A Sultan’s Ransom” conclusion was over it was time for some half dozen of hits from the British band’s back catalogue (“Reach For The Sky”, “Gates Of Gehenna”, “Laying Down The Law” etc) being the perfect match for a unique evening.

I have seen CLOVEN HOOF performing live – in Greece or abroad – for more than six times now. This was not their best recital but it certainly was their most emotional one. For many metalheads this name may sound quite obscure (truth is CH never made it big in the Metal media) but their 80s discography sees nothing less than some excellent alums every traditional Metal fan should seek for. My mind was quite troubled while walking off the venue but there’s no further need to explain why and who and when and how… Our thanks to CLOVEN HOOF for keeping the flame alive are compulsory.

CLOVEN HOOF setlist:

01. “Astral Rider”
02. “Forgotten Heroes”
03. “D.V.R.”
04. “Jekyll And Hyde”
05. “1001 Nights”
06. “Silver Surfer”
07. “Notre Dame”
08. “Mad, Mad World”
09. “Highlander”
10. “Mistress Of The Forest”
11. “Reach For The Sky”
12. “Gates Of Gehenna”
13. “Inquisitor”
14. “Nova Battlestar”
15. “Laying Down The Law”