Chastain – Surrender to No One (Leviathan)Sunday, 17th November 2013
Following a two decade plus retirement from the metal business, vocalist Leather Leone reflected on the loss of Ronnie James Dio and felt re-inspired to engage her golden pipes once again. Surrender to No One is her first Chastain album since 1990’s For Those Who Dare, and the current lineup contains the familiar trio of Leone, guitarist extraordinaire David T. Chastain, and bassist Mike Skimmerhorn, joined on drums this go around by Pagan’s Mind kit master Stian Kristoffersen.
Comeback albums can be a double edge sword between what the musicians wish to creatively achieve and what the long-time fans expect. The quartet balances this out adequately with these 11 songs- there are moments where the band settle into more of a solid power riff format that is a little stripped down of which “Call of the Wild” and the doomier “I Am Sin” work best. On the other hand, the dynamic heaviness and axe gallop action of the past come into play on “Deep Down in the Darkness” (featuring a drum clinic type workout from Stian) and classic Chastain shred/tapping heroic parts on personal favorite “Save Me Tonight.”
Leone has not lost one iota of her metal range, tenacity, or spot on feel to this style of heavy/power metal. The title track for instance may see her initial use her lower chops in the verses, but she quickly hits some sinister mid-range and high screams that rival any of the best in the business, and I’ve always felt that her being female never made a difference in her ability to keep up with the Halford, Dio, or Dickinson brigade.
Chastain 2013 is a welcome addition to the scene. I will always hold the first five albums in high regard for my metal development, and think Surrender to No One holds up quite well in terms of diverse songwriting and strong performances.