So a couple of weeks ago I’m on the phone with my good friend Wendy making our plans for an upcoming show we’d be working and I mentioned what I was listening to and SHE says, “I’ve been listening a lot to the new Chastain”. Waitaminnit, WHAT new Chastain?? I quickly found out and was soon immersing myself in the first collaboration in years from David T. Chastain, bassist Mike Skimmerhorn, and the one and only Leather Leone, Surrender to No One, out now via Leviathan Records. Now again, I had heard neither hide nor hair from this crew in years and was anxious to see what this record had in store for me.
The first thing that I noticed is the goddamn old school metal riffs dipped in a coating of steel, Jeezus!!! Add Leather’s rough and ready vocals to the mix and this stuff kicks some serious ass! From jump my two favorites were “Freedom Within” and “I Am Sin”. The former is basically from Riffs R’Us, as is opener “Stand and Fight”, and the latter is slow and E-V-I-L (yep, in all caps!) with a deliciously slow tempo and some of more of David T’s awesome soloing, plus Leather sings in a softer tone in a couple of spots before unleashing vocal hell.
I’ve read that some people have issues with the production on this record, but it sounds totally balanced to me, especially on “Rise Up”. Throughout the whole thing, you can hear the rhythm section of Skimmerhorn and new skin-pounder Stian Kristoffersen in the mix but never too high up, and it’s never more apparent than on the guitar solo to this one. You can hear every note right where it should be, so I don’t know what some of these crackheads are on about. The tone on “Fear My Wrath” almost reminded me of Zakk Wylde who happens to be one of my favorite guitarists, thus ensuring this song would be another standout for me.
Chastain’s speedy side rears its head for the title track, slowing to half-time for just a step on the hook, and you can definitely see the impact they’ve had on bands like Huntress and Kobra And The Lotus who are putting out great albums in their own right as we speak. The fast and intricate playing from the entire band makes “Save Me Tonight” another winner coupled with the clean, melodic chorus from all of them, Leather included. Again, I can’t say enough about the solos of David T. “Call of the Wild” is one that certainly achieves the band’s vision of “Keeping one foot in the old days and one in 2013” and is pure, unadulterated fucking metal, plain and simple.
“Evil Awaits Us” and “Deep Down In the Darkness” are two more tracks that manage to be very heavy while closer “Bleed Through Me” is a complete gear shift for the album, bringing everything to a slow grind and Leather really flexing her muscles. If you’re a fan of good old-fashioned metal that still sounds fresh today, then check out Surrender to No One from Chastain. Welcome back, gentlemen and lady! Stay awhile, won’t you?
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Freedom Within”, “I Am Sin”, “Save Me Tonight”, “Fear My Wrath”, “Rise Up”