Cloven Hoof - Official Website - Interview

Heathen Cross

United Kingdom Country of Origin: United Kingdom

1. Benediction
2. Redeemer
3. Do What Thou Wilt
4. Last Man Standing
5. Darkest Before The Dawn
6. Vendetta
7. Curse Of The Gypsy
8. Frost And Fire
9. Sabbat Stones
10. The Summoning

Review by Vladimir on June 11, 2024.

Cloven Hoof? THE Cloven Hoof? Back with a new album you say? Well I'll be damned. I was actually pretty surprised to realize that the legendary UK heavy metal band Cloven Hoof returned this year with a new devilish release, in the form of their tenth full-length album Heathen Cross, which came out on May 31st, 2024 via High Roller Records. Just when I thought this year couldn't get any better with oldschool traditional heavy metal, after so many influential and crucial bands releasing their new albums this year, this one managed to prove me so wrong and boy was I hooked from the beginning I saw it. Should we consider taking a nice trip to the cursed hilltop, with Sabbat stones and a burning Heathen Cross in the middle, while being haunted by an ominous figure in the dark? Hell yes!

Heavy, wild, melodic and catchy, those are the words that precisely describe what you are going to get with the Heathen Cross, as Cloven Hoof delivers a powerful heavy metal performance from the very get-go, leaving no time to waste and just immediately jumping straight into action. As much as this album is incredibly heavy and melodic, it also has some superb epic moments as well, introduced on 'Do What Thou Wilt', an Alister Crowley inspired track that states his famous lines "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law", and it surely cranks the energy up to 10. Ever since the band's inception, they became quite synonymous with the use of various lyrical ideas that stretch from fantasy, occultism and science fiction as well, all of which have inspired the general flow of every song, and this album is packed full of mood swings when it comes to the overall output. It's incredible how the overall performance on each song manages to capture the moment, especially on the most epic and melodic songs on the album, because that's when things get really interesting and it keeps you excited all the way through with such high anticipation. Outstanding examples such as 'Darkest Before The Dawn' and 'Vendetta' definitely shine on with their might and glory like the fire upon the Heathen Cross, but there are also some more evil and wicked bangers like 'Curse Of The Gypsy' and the atmospheric 'Sabbat Stones'. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and in this case we have a solid conclusion to the album in the form of 'The Summoning', a good banger that places the last stone on the hilltop, rightfully concluding the journey of the Heathen Cross.

As far as the songwriting goes, it's moderately dynamic in terms of maintaining a nice balance with simplicity while still delivering a variety of eye-catching ideas that really give a nice punch to this album as a whole. For heavy metal veterans such as Cloven Hoof, I find it very hard to believe that they are 45 years old as a band, because their performance on this album, as well as all the provided riffs, melodies, guitar solos and choruses, sounds so unbelievably fresh that you would think that this is a newly formed band, while in reality being one of the key players in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. It really goes without saying that the result is a matter of dedication and being passionate in what you do, which is a seldom seen these days where you get a lot of mediocrity and uninspiring outputs that really aren't worthy of your attention, but in the case of Cloven Hoof, it's the exact opposite. What stood out to me about the album, apart from the amazing songwriting, is the cover art done by Alexander von Wieding, which showcases an ominous witchfinder looking figure, that reminded me of characters such as Solomon Kane and Caleb from Blood video games, and I think that the overall artstyle and depiction perfectly matches the vibe of Heathen Cross.

Overall, I very much enjoyed Heathen Cross as a whole, mostly due to its incredibly engaging and entertaining musical output which gave me a pretty good time all the way through. It's got a very uplifting feel to it which will definitely satisfy your appetite for some traditional heavy metal hunger, and I think Cloven Hoof successfully delivered on that aspect. Considering how many fresh ideas and strong songs can be found on this album, it would be a cardinal sin to miss this one out. If you are someone who really loves these guys, or anything that came out of the NWOBHM, I suggest you stop wasting your time and check it out.

Rating: 8.6 out of 10