Cloven Altar "Enter the Night" (2017) Album Review
Cloven Altar - "Enter The Night" (2017)
Good grief, does Cederick "Ced" Forsberg ever sleep? In the six years since he first surfaced with the debut Rocka Rollas demo in 2011, this amazingly prolific Swedish multi-instrumentalist has become something of a one-man heavy metal cottage industry, releasing more than a dozen albums and EP's under a variety of band names, covering a broad spectrum of metal styles. Until recently Ced's main band was the Rocka Rollas, but that old-school speed metal combo is sadly on ice until they can find a vocalist to complete their already-recorded fifth full-length album. Fortunately, while the RR's get their you-know-what together, Ced's got plenty of other irons in the fire to keep him occupied and satisfy our old-school metal Jones, like Mortyr ('80s thrash), Blazon Stone (blatant Running Wild pirate-metal worship), Breitenhold (fantasy speed metal), and who knows, probably a dozen other things that we don't even know about yet!
"Demon Of The Night" (2015)
Enter Cloven Altar...
Genre: Melodic Power/Speed Metal / 9 Tracks, Run Time: 30:42
Label: Stormspell Records / Release Date: June 15, 2017
The latest project to come out of Ced's metal foundry is Cloven Altar, a two-man, European/American partnership in which he plays all guitars, drums, and bass (!), and the vocals are handled by Dustin Altar, an American who (according to Metal Archives) was once a member of a straight-edge metalcore band called Oubliette.
Cloven Altar came together when Dustin's short-lived traditional metal project Spellbinder split up, and he sought Ced's help to complete some leftover tracks he'd written for it. This inter-continental collaboration soon turned into a full-fledged "band," and Cloven Altar (an obvious mash-up of the band names Cloven Hoof and Pagan Altar) released their debut self-titled EP via the pure-metal specialists at Stormspell Records in 2014. Their debut full length, Demon of the Night, was released a year later and now the pair's second album, Enter The Night, is about to be released. Stormspell Records was nice enough to hook your humble narrator up with a sneaky peek of the album before it hits the streets in Summer 2017. (Author's note: as of this writing, no tracks from the new album have been uploaded to YouTube yet, which is why all the video samples included with this article come from Cloven Altar's past releases).
"Prince Of Hell" (2014)
Enter The Night gets off to a ripping good start with the chunky "Heart Of The Beast," a catchy anthem that's pure NWOBHM, and segues into the fist-raising "Die For Metal," which features some impressive high-pitched screaming from Dustin atop a wall of barbed-wire Cederick riffs. "In Worlds Unknown" features some twin-guitar interplay straight out of the early Helloween playbook, and I swear I detect some Fire Down Under-era Riot in the riffage of "Theories of Specules." Ced and Dustin may be fanboys wearing their influences on their sleeves here, but they certainly know how to take those influences and turn them into some decent old-school metal tunes.
The title track to Enter The Night is another all out melodic speed metal fiesta, as is the short-but-sweet "Thrones Of The Masters." By the time you get to the album-ending double shot of "Blood Runs High" and "Burning Steel," which approaches thrash velocity at times, your head should be nodding along and your hands should be involuntarily curling into the "Devil Horn" hand sign. If they aren't, check your pulse.
With a run time of just over half an hour, Enter The Night doesn't overstay its welcome. The 9 tracks are short, sweet, and to the point - there are no growling vocals, no sprawling nine-minute "epics," no extended trips through the progressive metal daisy-patch, just good ol' fashioned meat 'n' potatoes heavy metal, served up in easily digestible three-minute-and-change chunks -- perfect for head banging, air guitaring and singing along to. Is Enter The Night the most original thing ever to come down the pike? Of course not, but it's impressively played (props to Ced the one-man band!) and passionately performed. I've heard records from full bands that sound less lively than this duo.
In a nutshell, if you crave the old school sounds of the NWOBHM and the early 80s power/speed metal scene, Cloven Altar has your prescription. Fans of early Iron Maiden, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Jag Panzer, Riot, or Omen should be more than pleased with Cloven Altar's Enter The Night.
True heavy metal never goes out of style. Play this one loud, and play it proud. He who dies with the most Cederick Forsberg CDs wins!
Cloven Altar Discography
Cloven Altar (EP) - Stormspell, 2014
Demon Of The Night - Stormspell, 2015
Enter The Night - Stormspell, 2017