Cloven Hoof was originally formed in the heart of the industrial West Midlands, England in 1979. The group went through various line up changes until Spring 1982 when the band line up consisted of Lee Payne bass guitar, David Potter vocals, Steve Rounds lead guitar and Kevin Poutney drums. The first demo tape the band did together was given the thumbs up from no lesser stars than Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) who took a copy of the tape into national Radio One, and Rob Halford (Judas Priest) who got it played on a radio station in Phoenix, Arizona. The station was bombarded with heavy metal callers who wanted to know more about the band. Soon afterwards the group were taken under the wing of ex-Judas Priest manager David Hemmings.

The Opening Ritual” a four track mini album was released in July of 1982, and the EP stayed in the “Sounds” and “Kerrang” heavy metal charts for six weeks peaking at number 18. Articles in “Kerrang” and “Noise” magazine followed by Geoff Barton tipping the band for the top in his prestigious “Breaking through in ’82 feature,” and play list. “The image adopted by ourselves during this period was worth noting because there were 4 band members, I came up with a concept featuring the names Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. Outlandish stage costumes were donned and heavy Kiss- style makeup and masks. We wanted to be the band we always wanted to see and hear…total senses overkill. In a lot of ways I think we were ahead of our time, because our vision of combining image and music was perfectly suited to the multi media sci-fi games market. And remember we were doing the masks thing years before Slipknot and all the others. I suppose we must have influenced many bands in presenting themselves in a hard rocking theatrical way, but the music always came first!!!” “The project drew huge attention and major labels were queuing up to sign the band, the high chart position was a big help too”. (Lee Payne)

Over in America Rob Stradansky was championing the band’s cause in his “Metal Rendezvous” magazine and college radio stations were airing it on their playlists. A worldwide buzz was growing and international stardom seemed a formality. However bad contract advice and publishing infighting put paid to a huge recording deal. The untimely death of David Hemmings, the bands manager was another terrible blow. An independent label was the only alternative for Cloven Hoof to once again gather momentum without the support of a major label at the helm.

Undeterred the group’s “The Opening Ritual” attained air play on numerous radio stations worldwide but it was not until Tommy Vance and Geoff Barton played tracks off the EP on Radio One in the UK that the Cloven ones carrier really began to break into a gallop. 1983 saw Cloven Hoof touring throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, earning themselves a sizeable underground cult following.

The Opening Ritual EP
1982 / Elemental Music

Track listing

The Gates of Gehenna
Back in the USA
Starship Sentinel

Band Line Up

Kevin Pountney – Drums (Earth)
Steve Rounds – Guitars (Fire)
Dave Potter – Lead Vocals (Water)
Lee Payne – Bass (Air)

Here’s a link to the EP lyrics

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