Cloven Hoof is a power metal band from Wolverhampton that was active from 1979 to 1990, and again from around 2000 onwards. The band were associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, alongside bands such as Motörhead, Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. Enduring many line-up changes through their career, only founding bassist Lee Payne has existed as an ever-present member.
Cloven Hoof went through a few early line-up changes, including a brief spell with vocalist Steve Sammon, before settling on a steady line-up that would last their first few recordings. Theatrical from the beginning, the four band members took up pseudonyms after the four elements - David "Water" Potter, Steve "Fire" Rounds, Lee "Air" Payne and Kevin "Earth" Poutney. This line-up recorded the band's successful demo tape from 1982, along with The Opening Ritual EP, and Cloven Hoof.
Following the release of their self-titled debut, David Potter left the band to be replaced by Rob Kendrick, who took up the "Water" pseudonym. This line-up only managed to record the live album Fighting Back, before splitting up completely soon after the release of the album. Lee Payne was the only member left, and soldiered on through the years.
Lee Payne started the band again in 1988, hiring vocalist Russ North and guitarist Andy Wood from the split up band Tredegar along with drummer Jon Brown.
With a whole new set of musicians in place, the band dropped the stage names and went on to record two more albums - 1988's Dominator and 1989's A Sultan's Ransom. Former member of Sweet Andy Scott was brought to the band for the role of second guitarist soon after the release of these two albums, but contractual difficulties caused the band to split up in 1990.
In the summer of 2001, Lee Payne began putting a new line-up together for the next reincarnation of Cloven Hoof when Andy Wood had phoned him about the contractual difficulties that had plagued the band from continuing on for completely a decade past.
After a few years work and failure to entice back any previous Hoof members, Eye of the Sun was recorded and released in 2006 with the help of session musicians Matt Moreton on vocals, Andy Shortland on guitars, and Lynch Radinsky on drums. According to Payne, it was the first Cloven Hoof album to have been produced without any contractual problems, but even though he was proud of the album's successful production, he wanted Russ North to have sang for it instead of Moreton.
Following the successful comeback release, the entire line-up other than Payne was released, and Russ North returned to the fold after finally taking care of the obstacles that prevented him from rejoining a few years earlier. A brief period of line-up fluctuation could be seen on the band's website over the following few months, with former member Jon Brown briefly listed as being back on board. Newcomer Roy Chudobskyi had rehearsed with the band six times, and did only one show, but didn't satisfy the band.
Eventually the line-up seemed to settle with Mick Powell, a guitarist almost hired by Cloven Hoof in the early '80s. In another unannounced change, Jon Brown rejoined.
A collection of re-recorded songs The Definitive Part One was released in early 2008, with a new album to be called Throne of Damnation scheduled for release in 2009. Mick Powell played guitar and keyboards on The Definitive Part One but had left the band by the time it was released. Cloven Hoof continued for a few months as a four-piece again before Powell briefly rejoined in April 2008 and was eventually replaced by Christian Horton.