|Classic Review: Cloven Hoof - A Sultan's Ransom|
|A Sultan's Ransom|
Label: FM Revolver
Year released: 1989
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: April 5, 2007
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:A Sultan's Ransom
Rated 4.06/5 (81.18%) (34 Votes)
Cloven Hoof are one of the class acts of the NWOBHM age, they produced a few well-respected albums and seemed to have it all together, but internal difficulties and steady lineup changes finally brought them to and end after this, their third full-length studio album. A Sultan's Ransom is often hailed as this band's finest work.
On their debut Cloven Hoof laid down a rather evil variety of metal, strongly related to such bands as Stormwitch or early Running Wild, but by this album they had mutated into a straight-up Heavy Metal band with that inescapable NWOBHM melodic vibe. They still sound quite a bit like early metal acts like the aforementioned Stormwitch or Heavy Load, but they do have their own sound, and created some excellent songs here. "Astral Rider" and "Forgotten Heroes" get things going in fine style. Other strong cuts include "Jekyll And Hyde", "Silver Surfer" and "Mad, Mad World". Some songs are weaker, like the blasé "DVR" and "Notre Dame", or the genuinely irritating "1001 Nights". But all sins are forgiven with the epic album capper "Mistress Of The Forest", which may be the best song they ever wrote.
Overall this is very strong album with a half-dozen great songs and only one that really bites. The production is a bit thin, dating the album's sound pretty definitively, but the strength of the performances shines through, especially the rough and powerful vocals of Russ North. Cloven Hoof are back together as of now, trying to get a new disc out this year, and I understand there is work in progress to get both this album and Dominator re-released by Escape Music (www.escape-music.com), which would be very cool, especially if they replace the absolutely awful cover this album was tarred with. I shudder to think how many fans skipped this disc just because the cover was so breathtakingly shitty. But never mind that, just get this one. Cloven Hoof may never have broken big, but they put out classic old-fashioned metal that fans should not miss.
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