Back To The Past (6):
CHASTAIN

BACK FOR THE ATTACK:
A JOURNEY TO THE SICK SOCIETY

When you dig deeply into your memory of heavy metal music, the chance is big you'll run into David T. Chastain's name a lot of times around the second half of the eighties. In these days David was unstoppable in releasing one album after another. Each showing a different style of music, ranging from heavy metal to jazz rock. But every time with CHASTAIN's fast and powerful guitar-work as central point. CHASTAIN can be seen as a real workaholic in these days. Look around at your local CD shop. You'll find albums by CHASTAIN, David T. Chastain (his solo effort) and projects like CJSS and CHASTAIN/HARRIS. We will focus on the story of the band CHASTAIN, 'cause this is the only of the aforementioned bands, that included a metal maiden, namely Leather Leone. Also we will introduce you to her replacement, the very talented singer/ guitarist Kate French.

In '84 guitarist David T. Chastain and Mike Skimmerhorn (on bass) leave the band SPIKE (due to musical disagreements) and they form two new groups: the melodic CJSS and the more heavy CHASTAIN. CHASTAIN gets signed on Mike Varney's Shrapnel label and the twosome was completed by drummer Fred Coury and female vocalist Leather Leone. Leather came from a band called RUDE GIRL, a ROCK GODDESS-like outfit. Nearly every CHASTAIN album shows us the more heavy side of guitar master Chastain, while his side projects (f.e. CJSS) show the more commercial, jazzy and instrumental side of David. Leather is a great heavy metal singer and her voice wouldn't fit that easy in another style of music, I guess. "Mystery Of Illusion" is CHASTAIN's debut album and it is also the most complete album Chastain releases. "Ruler Of The Wasteland" is their follow-up. The album brings in drummer Ken Mary (ex-FIFTH ANGEL, ALICE COOPER). On the live front David adds Pat O'Brian to the band to concentrate himself on the solo work, while Pat covers the fill-in spots and rhythm guitar. Another year, another album and 1987 brings us the "7th Of Never" LP. An album that shows you the same structure as the first two CHASTAIN albums, fast songs that are completed with two strong ballads. Nothing more, nothing less. But who needs more, when you can speak about a constantly high quality of the bands' work?
1988 comes with "The Voice Of The Cult" and at the end of '88 David states that from now on his band CHASTAIN will get the highest priority next to his side-projects. Surprisingly enough, he doesn't release a CHASTAIN album in '89. Instead, Leather's solo album "Shock Waves" sees the light. She just wanted to get away from the idea of 'being the woman in the band of the mighty David Chastain'. Leather wanted to show that she could be as important as singers like DORO and Lorraine Lewis (FEMME FATALE), who had their picture on the cover of the metal mags in the USA. She choose for John Luke He'Bert (drums), David Harbour (bass) and Michael Harris (guitar) to assists her on the LP. And David Chastain? He co-wrote some of the songs for the little metal lady (6 out of 9) and produced the album. "Shock Waves" sounded really straight forward, true heavy metal how it's used to be played, but I am sorry to admit it: ....It only worked for a few die-hard metalheads and headbangers. The big public didn't notice the album, which is a real shame. It's a good album and it could be seen as a new CHASTAIN album, only without Chastain. Less priority for the fast guitar solos, but now focussing on Leather's strong voice. This brings Leather back to the next CHASTAIN album "For Those Who Dare", released in '89. If you know that the first version of this new album simply was refused by the record labels, it's obvious that the inspiration to make a good album was lost. Is "For Those Who Dare" such a bad album? No, not really. It's still a fantastic album, but in a land full of hypes and trends, the fans thought they were still listening to "Ruler Of The..." or "The 7th Of Never".
In '90 Leather leaves the band, but CHASTAIN didn't officially split up though. They were suspended for awhile. Till in '94, when David runs into Kate French, a 22-years old blonde, good looking singer/songwriter who hands him over a tape at the Foundation Forum. Kate started already very young in the music business. At the age of 18, she formed the all-female band TANTRUM and after that she was in a band called MACHINE GUN KELLY. Chastain is really impressed about her capabilities and guess what? The lady plays great guitar, as well. Reason enough to get together and to start working on the '95 effort "Sick Society". Not only do we hear Kate as a very talented singer, playing some fantastic guitar parts. We also see a slight change in the musical direction of CHASTAIN. Because when you listen to a song like "Sugarcaine" you'll even hear Kate introducing some blues into the music. And Leather? She seemed to have totally distanced herself from the music scene. Today she's working as an assistant for a veterinary surgeon, so she didn't stop being around all these wild animals, after all. But one thing is for sure: with the CD "Sick Society" we see a surprisingly strong comeback for CHASTAIN. Hopefully joined by a European tour later on this year. The reviews of the album are very positive and I guess that David Chastain wants to prove with Kate French, he's ready for the big work again. CHASTAIN's new album is reviewed in this issue of Metal Maidens and I join the people who are enthusiastic about this new CD. The old CHASTAIN fans won't be disappointed either with this killer comeback, which is a real master piece. I'm sure they'll reach more fans than they ever did!

written by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens 1996

DISCOGRAPHY

CHASTAIN
MYSTERY OF ILLUSION (Shrapnel/Roadrunner '85)
RULER OF THE WASTELAND (Shrapnel/Roadrunner '86)
THE 7TH OF NEVER (Leviathan/Black Dragon '87)
THE VOICE OF THE CULT (Leviathan/Roadrunner '88)
FOR THOSE WHO DARE (Leviathan/Roadrunner '90)
SICK SOCIETY (Massacre Records '95)
IN DEMENTIA (Leviathan '97)
IN AN OUTRAGE (Massacre Records '04)

LEATHER (solo)
SHOCK WAVES (Leviathan/Roadracer '89)