CHASTAIN - SURRENDER TO NO ONE (Leviathan Records)
(Review by Stefan)
It was Shrapnel Records’ CEO Mike Varney who observed the incredible guitar skills of David T. Chastain back in the early 80s. Both Mike and David’s cooperation turned out really good, there was a new band under construction who would called Chastain. First member that teamed up was SF based, ex Rude Girl leading lady named Leather Leone. Bassist Mike Skimmerhorn joined forces as bassist, he knew David from working together in the band CJSS. Fred Coury, who played in Cinderella later on, took place behind the drum set. With this line-up also Chastain’s debut album “Mystery Of Illusion” saw the crack of dawn in 1985 on a global basis. Eight songs on it, one by one highlights to me… definitely one of my all time favourite US Metal albums !
With all respect for both drum and bass works on that effort, David T. Chastain’s swirling guitar tactics and Leather Leone’s unique vocals can be considered as the most decisive factors to me. A first album of a band that radiated much class and a lot of potency so more efforts were on the rise as follows, “Ruler Of The Wasteland” 1986, “The 7th. Of Never” 1987, “The Voice Of The Cult” 1988 and two years later on, the mighty “For Those Who Dare” popped up in style! According to myself, on top of this list with five masterpieces stands the unsurpassable “Mistery Of Illusion”, that mighty album engraved in my heart and soul forevermore.
After the release of “FTWD”, Chastain seemed to be vanished from the radar until a few years later on, and with new singer Kate French, “Sick Society” appeared in ’95 followed by “In Dementia”, “In An Outrage” and “The Reign Of Leather”, all unleashed through Mr. Chastain’s own label Leviathan Records. The discography of his created solo albums counts at least 10 pieces, this grandmaster is also the mastermind behind CJSS, Zanister, Georgia Blues Dawgs, Southern Gentlemen, Spike a.o. As if this was not enough, I also want to mention that he also offered his top notch guitar moves to numerous other albums from greats in the likes of Leather, Joe Stump, Firewind, Michael Harris, … nothing but respect to a man contributed to at least 50 recordings so far… and this number will surely increase further as time flies by.
I am delighted that three quarters of the original Chastain line-up have found each other again, may I present you the brand new full length album entitled “Surrender To No One” ! Along with entering drummer Stian Kristofferson (Firewind, Pagan’s Mind) this new Chastain album shows that the band is still in very good condition. This reunion will not pass by unnoticed, I’m convinced about that.
‘Stand And Fight’ may open this new Chastain album with much elegance and a whole lotta power. To this kind of music so called US Power Metal I got hooked on since the 80s era. Back than, Chastain belonged to my favourite acts and has still remained unchanged to date. Listening to this opener, well it feels like coming home really ! David’s way of outstanding, pure technical guitar wizardry in combination with Leather Leone’s unique vocal delivery always meant a lot to me. With regard to Leather’s nowadays way of singing I’d like to announce the following mild criticism: the higher vocal notes run a little less easily in comparison with many years ago but that’s completely normal. In aging, your voice also changing so in fact there is nothing to worry about. She still belongs on top of my own, all time favourite female singers of which the first three are: Ann Boleyn, Lee Aaron and of course the unapproachable Leather Leone !
Except for the dark power ballad ‘Save Me Tonight’, most of the songs arrive in style with a true spectacle filled with lots of power and melody, all deserved with an eye for detailed perfection. All the ingredients that have made Chastain famous back in the 80s are still present so again, “Surrender To No One” can be considered as the most impressive comeback albums released in 2013. More power riffage comes with the song called ‘Call Of The Wild’ which is one of the highlights to me. Certainly not to circumvent are the high-quality, musical skills of bassist Mike Skimmerhorn and drummer Stian Kristoffersen, well known from his devastating duties with Firewind. I recommend you to listen to ‘Deep Down In The Darkness’ where both Mike and Stian deliver fantastic works during this superb composition reminiscent to Chastain good old days playing US Power Metal in a full shredding mode. On the title track, Leone once again showcases all her beautiful vocal skills, just like she did way back in the days… more than 20 years ago! Hear and enjoy the beautiful contrast between her legendary high screams and lower tuned vocals, still very impressive after all these years.
Finally I have come to the conclusion that Chastain’s comeback album “Surrender To No One” was entirely made of the right material I still adore with all of my heart. It is razor sharp and glittering on all sides, this means US Power Metal like it has to come into my life a couple of decades ago. Definitely a must-have for all fanciers of pure Classic Metal the American way. I truly hope both David T. and Leather stay with us for quite a while. I already look forward to hear some more US Metal magic delivered by the one and only Chastain ! Order at: www.leviathanrecords.com or find out some more info via: www.chastainmetal.com
My Points: 89 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish