Nima : American singer Leather Leone is best known for her work with Chastain, with whom she released a few great albums in the 80s. For me Leather is, together with Doro, one of the original "metal queens" and her powerful, utterly metal voice was always very charming to me. In 1989 the lady released her solo debut ‘Shock Waves’ under the name Leather. A strong record, which however could not match her work with Chastain, in my opinion. In 1990 she left Chastain and more or less disappeared from the scene. In 2011 she came in the picture with Sledge Leather and made her absolute comeback in 2013 with, again, Chastain.
In early April, nearly thirty years after her debut, Leather will unleash her second album, simply called ‘II’. And damn it, it has become a cool piece of work. What we have here is unadulterated, traditional US heavy metal. Despite the contemporary approach the spirit of the eighties is highly present, and personally of course I only welcome that. There is no room or opportunity for discussion and the band rages on mercilessly from the very first second. Opener ‘Juggernaut’ strikes hard instantly and immediately takes you in its grasp. This ... is ... METAL! And the pure metal frenzy continues from there with full force. On the last two Chaistain albums Leone proved that her voice had not lost any of its power and charm, and although she sounds a bit more raw nowadays, she is still highly recognizable and as convincing as she used to be. Even more so, to me she is the female answer to Dio! In Rob Rock's live line-up, Leone has an excellent band backing her, who also know their business perfectly and don’t drop any stitches.
The comparison with Chastain is obviously inevitable, but besides that I often have to think of the faster, sturdier works of a band like Jag Panzer, but also Priest, Dio, Hellion and co. In addition to traditional metal, however, we also get typical rock n 'roll passages, but also heavy groove riffs a la Zakk Wylde. Therefore that album doesn’t lack variety whatsoever. And exactly because of that combination of the traditional metal and the modern approach, 'II' has been given a timeless character that will appeal to a wide audience. I must say that especially the faster tracks make a stronger impression. The slower 'Sleep Deep' and the semi-ballad 'Annabelle' are definitely not bad songs, and also the mid-tempo pounders like 'The Outsider' and 'Black Smoke' are strong tracks, but for me it is mainly faster blasters like the aforementioned opener, 'The One', 'Hidden In The Dark', 'Let Me Kneel' and the rock n 'roll closer ‘Give Me A Reason’ that lift up the average level. Altogether however ‘II’ is a strong and pure metal record that will definitely not disappoint the fans of the genre. And needless to say that Chastain fans may not miss this album in their collection.