Chastain - Mystery of Illusion (Shrapnel Records) 1985
1. Black Knight (3:21)
2. When the Battle's Over (03:42)
3. Mystery of Illusion (4:31)
4. I've Seen Tomorrow (3:01)
5. Endlessly (3:25)
6. I Fear No Evil (4:37)
7. Night of the Gods (5:09)
8. We Shall Overcome (3:53)
9. The Winds of Change (5:17)
10. Mystery of Illusion [demo] (4:32)
11. Winds of Change [demo] (5:15)
I got into David T. Chastain in the mid-1980's while I was in college. My first exposure to his guitar prowess was CJSS's "World Gone Mad". It was an energetic, traditional metal album and featured some scorching guitar work. Soon after I picked up David's "Instrumental Variations" CD and was enthralled as well. Oddly enough, I steered clear of his Chastain releases until many, many years later.
The first Chastain album is pure, undadulterated heavy metal featuring the powerhouse vocals of Leather Leone. Being that this was a Mike Varney, Shrapnel Records release, it's all about the shred guitar. Of course, David Chastain is all about tearing up a fretboard. "Mystery of Illusion" is a deep, epic and slightly gothic feeling metal album with excellently crafted tracks that have that old school feel, without sounding tired and boring. "When the Battle's Over" is a double bass driven metal number and really shows the range and aggression that Leather Leone has as a vocalist. It also showcases the drum work of Fred Coury (Cinderella). Likewise, "I've Seen Tomorrow" and "I Fear No Evil" are full-bore speed metal songs. "I Fear No Evil" seems to be a bit of a political statement about war.
The slower numbers are equally as enjoyable. "Night of the Gods" has a plodding, heavy riff and is couple with the banshee screams of Leather. The song reminds me slightly of Dio-era Sabbath, not that it sounds like any particular Black Sabbath song, but in that it has the same heavy, gothic, Dio vibe. "Endlessly" offers a more melancholy side of the band. While still featuring some string bending guitar solos, the song is more melodic in nature than the majority of the album. I want to describe the song as a ballad, but that description tends to be misleading, as this is not a cheesy 80's hair band ballad. Rather the song just bleeds emotion and melody. "The Winds of Change" finishes things off and has an almost neo-classical, Yngwie Malmsteen feel to it.
The entire album is well played and decently produced, yet not over blown. According to the liner notes by David Chastain, the album is "laden with imperfection". That may be the case, but those imperfections are part of the charm and warmth of this album, as well as a lot of early 80's metal albums.
The 2008 Shrapnel Records remaster comes wrapped in a four panel digi-pack. There is not booklet, but the digi includes liner notes by David T. Chastain that included song by song thoughts.
Chastain - Ruler of the Wasteland (Shrapnel) 1986/2008
1. Ruler Of The Wasteland (3:47)
2. One Day To Live (4:06)
3. The King Has The Power (3:04)
4. Fighting To Stay Alive (3:54)
5. Angel Of Mercy (5:16)
6. There Will Be Justice (4:14)
7. The Battle Of Nevermore (5:08)
8. Living In A Dreamworld (3:26)
9. Children Of Eden (4:21)
10. The Battle Of Nevermore [demo] (5:48)
11. Children Of Eden [demo] (4:55)
Chastain's debut was a very good album of guitar shredding heavy metal. "Ruler of the Wasteland" was a step up from that album. Everything is improved from the songwriting to the production to the individual performances of the band members. Many female vocalist in the 80's came off as sort of wimpy. That is certainly not the case with Leather Leone. She sounds tough as a nails. Her voice is full, aggressive and energetic, yet retains a sense of melody as well. Released on the Shrapnel label in 1986, there is no doubt that the guitar playing is top notch. David T. Chastain tore up the fret board like he had something to prove. The line-up was rounded out by new drummer Ken Mary (Impellitteri, Fifth Angel, House of Lords) and bassist Mike Skimmerhorn (CJSS). Former drummer Fred Coury left to join Cinderella.
As far as the songwriting goes, "Angel of Mercy" is an absolutely brilliant song which is somewhat dark, gothic, melodic and heavy all at the same time. This song alone is worth the price of admission. However, all nine original tracks are outstanding from the pounding metal of the title track to the speed metal of "One Day to Live" to the epic "The Battle of Evermore". There is a perfect mixture of songs, tempos, melody, and memorable hooks to keep the album interesting from start to finish. "Ruler of the Wasteland" is a heavy metal classic. The metal masses seem to have forgotten about this gem, but there are the core few that remember it. Hammerfall immortalized the album with their cover of the most excellent "Angel of Mercy". As well, Powergod paid tribute to the album with a cover of the title track.
The 2008 reissue comes in a 4-panel digi-pack without a booklet, but does include liner-notes and a song-by-song notes from David T. Chastain himself. There are also 2 demo tracks added as a bonus.
Chastain -The 7th of Never/The Voice of the Cult (Leviathan Records) 1987/1988/2004
|The 7th of Never
1. We Must Carry On (3:26)
2. Paradise (4:12)
3. It's Too Late for Yesterday (4:48)
4. 827 (3:20)
5. The Wicked Are Restless 5:32)
6. The 7th of Never (4:51)
7. Take Me Back in Time (4:48)
8. Feel His Magic (5:03)
9. Forevermore (5:59)
The Voice of the Cult
10. The Voice of the Cult (4:31)
11. Live Hard (3:07)
12. Chains of Love (3:27)
13. Share Yourself With Me (3:49)
14. Fortune Teller (4:21)
15. Child of Evermore (4:23)
16. Soldiers of the Flame (3:10)
17. Evil for Evil (4:13)
18. Take Me Home (6:16)
David T. Chastain & Leather Leon
Chastain's third full-length album was titled "The 7th of Never" and is pure heavy metal. People might assume that with a female vocalist in the band, Chastain may be more on the pop side of things. However, that isn't even slightly true. "We Must Carry On" and the title track are true heavy metal in their purest form. Likewise, "Paradise" is speed metal that pushes thrash metal boundaries. The album is full-throttle powered by the raw, energetic and passionate vocals of Leather Leone. She is no pop diva! Rather Leone is an aggressive heavy metal singer with leather lungs and a heart of pure steel. Add the progressive, neo-classical, heavy metal guitar work of David T. Chastain into the mix. As would be expected, Chastian's unique guitar abilities are peppered throughout this album, but no where more apparent than in "827" is an instrumental that allows Chastain to stretch his musical muscle. The track starts off with some solo guitar shredding but beaks into a full metal song in which the guitar becomes the lyricist. "The Wicked Are Restless" slows down the pace and intensity of the album a bit, but adds a slightly more ominous, dark vibe. Actually, the overall vibe is a bit darker than their first two albums.
"The Voice Of The Cult" is the fourth album by Chastain (the band) and continues a progression into dark, slightly gothic, traditional heavy metal. The title track is one of the standout cuts on this album. The song seems to be a tribute to the fans and followers of Chastain and is a metal anthem that proclaims that metal will never die. Indeed! Unlike most of the pop metal divas on the 80’s, Leather Leone has powerful pipes with a ton of metal attitude. There are no pop songs to be had here; this is heavy metal! Of course, the star of the show is David himself, who lets loose on plenty of meaty guitar solos. The band, Chastain, was not just a means for the man to solos over. The songs here are all quite good. "Evil for Evil", for instance, is a speedy thrash metal song, reminding me slightly of Cacophony, and features some fine shredding guitar solos. As a matter of fact, the entire album is pretty upbeat and heavy. There are no instrumentals on "Voice of the Cult", and really no ballads to speak of. The closest thing to a ballad is the opening moments of "Take Me Home". The song starts off sounding like a dark, melancholy ballad before breaking into a slow, gothic, doomy metal song.
"The 7th of Never and "Voice of the Cult" are two underrated heavy metal gems. Classic metal fans and shred addicts alike would do themselves well to check these two cult classics out.
Chastain - The Voice of the Cult (Leviathan Records) 1988
1. The Voice of the Cult (4:34)
2. Live Hard (3:09)
3. Chains of Love (3:30)
4. Share Yourself with Me (3:51)
5. Fortune Teller (4:25)
6. Child of Evermore (4:25)
7. Soldiers of the Flame (3:11)
8. Evil for Evil (4:15)
9. Take Me Home (6:20)
Back in the mid-80’s I discovered this killer band called CJSS with this shredder of a guitar player called David T. Chastain. I quickly discovered a solo release from David titled "Instrumental Variations". I wore the grooves off those records. For some reason I never really dug any deeper into Chastain’s catalog, even though I was aware of his Chastain albums with Leather Leone on vocals. For some reason I really just never gave them a listen. It’s now over 20 years later and I am just beginning to discover the wonderful catalog of music that Chastain put out. "The Voice Of The Cult" was the fourth album by the band Chastain and continued a progression into dark, slightly gothic, traditional heavy metal. The title track is one of the standout cuts on this CD. The song seems to be a tribute to the fans and followers of Chastain and is a metal anthem that proclaims that metal will never die. Indeed! Unlike the pop metal divas on the 80’s, Leather Leone has powerful pipes with a ton of metal attitude. There are no pop songs to be had here; this is heavy metal! Of course, the star of the show is David himself, who lets loose on plenty of meaty guitar solos. The band, Chastain, was not just a means for the man to solos over. The songs here are all quite good. "Evil for Evil", for instance, is a full throttle thrash metal song, reminding me slightly of Cacophony, and features some fine shredding guitar solos. As a matter of fact, the entire album is pretty upbeat and heavy. There are no instrumentals here, and really no ballads to speak of. Album finisher “Take Me Home” starts off sounding like a dark, melancholy ballad before breaking into a slow, gothic, doomy metal song. "The Voice of the Cult" reignited my interest in Chastain. Now I need to track down David T. Chastain - "Instrumental Variations" and CJSS - "World Gone Mad" and "Praise the Loud".
Chastain - For Those Who Dare (RC Records/Roadrunner) 1990
1. The Mountain Whispers (4:25)
2. For Those Who Dare (4:07)
3. Please Set Us Free (6:04)
4. I Am the Rain (3:34)
5. Night of Anger (6:23)
6. Barracuda (4:04)
7. Light in the Dark (5:23)
8. Secrets of the Damned (4:48)
9. Not Much Breathing (4:01)
10. Once Before (6:17)
Chastain enters the 90's with an album that is slightly heavier and more riff driven than past albums. The album features a very metallic, gritty cover of Heart's "Barracuda". The guitar tone on this album is incredibly crunchy, though on this track is has a roomy sound to it, almost as if the amp was set up in a room by itself and the microphone was on the other side of the empty room. Frankly, while it's unusual, I really like it. Other tracks such as the bombastic opening track and the speed metal of "Secrets of the Damned" the tone is less roomy and more biting. The title track starts off with a short neo-classical intro, a la Yngwie Malmsteen, before changing gears into a mid-paced, riff driven metal romp. The closing track is an epic piece that showcases each member of the band, including some solo bass work from David Harbour, who sits well alongside the resident shredder David T. As usual, Leather gives a commanding performance. She really is one of best female metal vocalists. She gritty and aggressive, yet still retains a sense of melody.
"For Those Who Dare" is full of attitude, but it also bleeds emotion. There is just something about it that I can not put into words that pulls you in and keeps you there for the entirety of the album. Next to the classic "Ruler of the Wasteland", this would be my second favorite disc from the Leather Leone years of the band. Unfortuantely, it also marks the last Chastain album to feature Leather's stellar vocals. (Thanks again Vexer6)
Chastain – Sick Society (Leviathan) 1995
- I Know the Darkness (5:13)
- Sick Society (4:53)
- Violence in Blame (5:56)
- Those Were the Daze (4:44)
- Destructive Ground (4:56)
- To the Edge (5:18)
- The Price of War (4:13)
- Every Emotion (5:05)
- The Vampie (5:20)
- Sugarcaine (4:48)
- Love and Hate (3:44)
- Angel Falls (7:01)
Chastain’s "Sick Society" moves far, far away from the gothic-tinged, heavy metal of the past and takes on a heavy, Pantera-inspired groove. In general the songs are all slow to mid-paced and incorporate down tuned, chugging, stop/start, groove based guitar riffs. A few tunes have riffs that sound like they were lifted right out of the Dimbag Darrell school of guitar playing. On a couple songs, such as "Sugarcaine" and "Those Were the Daze", Chastain sticks to a simple, heavy blues riffs. Knowing that David T. Chastain can let loose on some spectacular leads, I at least expected there to be some smokin’ shred contained herein. However, that really isn’t the case either. The solos haven’t been dropped altogether, but there really aren’t a whole lot to speak of. For example, "To the Edge" has a bluesy lead break that is very short and is over in about fifteen seconds. Vocalist Kate French has a mean, nasty and aggressive voice that works well for this style but I can only imagine how great she would sound over top of some more upbeat songs. There are a few times when Kate becomes less aggressive and sings in a cleaner style and shows she has a great singing voice as well. If there had been a serious ballad on this album, I’m sure Kate would have handled it spectacularly. Unfortunately, Chastain chases a sound that was popular in 1995 on "Sick Society" and nothing here rivals Chastain’s 80’s releases. While it’s not a bad CD, it’s certainly not David T. Chastain’s best releases either.
Chastain - In Dementia (Leviathan Records) 1997
1. Human Sacrifice (6:09)
2. Blackening (4:47)
3. Seven (6:28)
4. Sick Puppy (4:48)
5. Tongue (6:13)
6. In Dementia (5:44)
7. House of Stone (5:43)
8. Conformity (6:35)
9. Desperately (8:44)
Chugging along like Pantera meets Alice in Chains, the Kate French era of Chastain is a very different animal than the goth-tinged, galloping classic metal of the Leather years. However, it's obvious to me, that despite the more modern riffing, that Chastain's heart lies in that classic metal sound; galloping riffs, impassioned vocals, screaming leads and a whole lot of melody. "In An Outrage" somehow manages to capture some of that spirit, while still retaining the more modern metal sound that the French-years have been known for. Much of this is due to the modern production techniques as well as the guitar riffs themselves. Album closer "Desperately" definitely captures some of that classic metal vibe. The epic, nearly nine-minute long song is melodic, slightly melancholy and has a blues influence. The rest of the album, however, continues down similar paths as "Sick Society". French plays a big part in the band's sound. She is not some pop diva in leather, nor is she some opera crooner attempting some sort of psuedo-goth sound. Rather she has a Mustaine-like snarl fits the music like a glove. Honestly, I prefer the band's more classic metal, Leather Leone years but "In Dimentia" is still a good listen.
Chastain - In an Outrage (Leviathan Records) 2004
1. In an Outrage (5:13)
2. Malicious Pigs (4:59)
3. Lucky to Be Alive (4:56)
4. Souls the Sun (6:02)
5. Bullet from a Gun (4:06)
6. Women Are Wicked (5:15)
7. Tortured Love (4:29)
8. New Beginnings (5:07)
9. Rule the World (5:49)
10. Hamunaptra (6:08)
David T. Chastain is a shredder, there is no doubt about it. His albums with CJSS and much of his 80's Chastain material is considered to be classics by many metal fanatics. However, many fans were confused with David in the 90's when he was apparently trying for a cold, modern metal sound, abandoning the warm, classic heavy metal he had been known for. Gone are the groove based songs and back are the riffs that David had been known for. Yes, with "In An Outrage", Chastain brings back the traditional heavy metal appeal. The line-up of David and long-time singer Kate French is enhanced by the addition of former Vicous Rumors veterans Dave Starr on bass and Larry Howe on drums.
In An Outrage opens with a monstrous, heavy song that sports a truck load of passion. "Bullet from A Gun" is an equally powerful song. "Tortured Love" is a slightly more modern sounding mid-paced romp with a heavy riff and Kate French's vicious vocals. There are no faux goth or opera style vocals here. Kate is a metal vocalist through and through. Her voice generally has a rough edge, but there are times she incorporates some beautiful clean vocals as well. Either way, her vocals and melodies are front and center on this record. While David writes all the music on "In An Outrage" and offers up his usual accomplished guitar work, it's Kate's vocals that will make or break this album for most people. The album closes out with what may be the best song on the album, "Hamunaptra". This song really sees Kate's vocals and David's music fitting together like matched puzzle pieces. The song has an almost epic feel and is very melodic, while not losing an ounce of it's heavy feel.
Chastain has delivered a surprisingly solid traditional heavy metal album with "In An Outrage". Everything is here that anyone would expect from this band, the riffs, the guitar solos, and the leather-lunged vocals. Long live metal!
CJSS | David T. Chastain | Leather