Chastain – Surrender To No One
Reviewed by SpaceKev
With the current state of the music industry, D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) is quite commonplace amongst musicians and bands these days. On the west coast in the early 80s, Mike Varney started up Shrapnel Label and gave the world its first exposure to Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friendman, and Jason Becker, as well as Paul Gilbert. He also gave the opportunity to the subject of this review, David T Chastain. After relocating to Cincinnati from Atlanta, David T Chastain started making his own music, but he also gave many bands such as Gus G and Firewind their start. He is a shredder with a prolific album catalog that could make Steve Wilson or Devin Townsend envious.
One of David T Chastain’s many projects, the one that bears his name, has reunited with its classic lineup, or three-quarters of it at any rate. More importantly, he reunited with Leather Leone, the vocalist who recorded vocals on the first five Chastain records. The two have not worked together since 1990. Leather was one of the few female faces of indie metal back then, and she had a very aggressive and in-your-face vocal approach that few of her female comrades in the genre had.
Leather’s vocal style is very similar to that of Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast. Although Noora has her quiet moments when her voice is as smooth as silk, Leather, for lack of a better term, is leathery 24/7. One time, I had left the room and came back, forgetting that I had Chastain playing. I thought I stumbled upon some classic Metal Church because her vocals, married to the music of Chastain, reminded me of David Wayne. She is quite good at what she does, the way she has always done it: very earthy and gravely.
Mr Chastain is an extremely talented guitarist. To paraphrase David St Hubbins from Spinal Tap when talking about Yngwie: “I like the way he uses T…you know, so you don’t confuse him with all the other David T Chastain’s in the business”. The band is yet another outlet for the songwriting and playing of Mr Chastain, and all the songs on Surrender To No One are chock-full of his great playing. What I think has happened over time, and something that I didn’t notice until now, is that his soloing has tempered to suit the song, rather than just the straight out wail-and-wank playing of his youth. I would even go so far as to say that his solos are emotive.
Chastain is very much an American heavy/power metal band. Melody – forget about it. What you get with Surrender To No One is an old school throw down. There is nothing singsongy, nor are there any anthemic elements in the songs. Most of the tunes are mid-tempo or just a little above it. Despite that, all of the songs are crafted to keep the listener’s fist pumping in the air and their head banging. Despite any reservations I may have, I found myself doing just that, and quite often.
“Stand Up And Fight”, the opening song and my favorite, is a proper opener for the CD, as it begins with an open kind of energy. “I Am Sin” is a good, and the only, overtly melodic song. The title track, “Surrender To No One,” is properly aggressive, but I am curious as to why it is buried so deep in the CD; it’s the second to last song.
Overall, Surrender To No One is a good CD with good songs. Exactly what you would expect. It will appease the Chastain fans that have been waiting for the reunion to take shape. While I enjoyed it, it left me a little wanting. I mentioned earlier that I had some reservations, and it is because there really is no song with a fast tempo, and I feel that the album needs such a song. Some double bass action at 160 bpm or higher would be nice. I also mentioned that Mr Chastain’s solos are well crafted and emotive, which is very nice and refreshing in this style of music. However, I think he needs to insert a fast shredder to keep listeners on their toes. The skill set in the band is definitely there to accomplish it. At times, it became a little monotonous, and I think these things would have added some dimension to the overall mid-tempo slug fest that makes up the CD.
There is a little bit of a void here in the USA for a straight ahead indie metal band with a respected profile; it’s a void that needs to be filled. I am very happy that the band Chastain is back with Leather out front, and I think they are exactly one of those bands that can do that. Even though there is a lack of speed, there is still a really good amount of aggression. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then Chastain’s Surrender To No One is for you.
Live Long and Rock Hard,
3.25 // 5