CD Review: Chastain – We Bleed Metal

CD Review: Chastain – We Bleed Metal
All Access Rating: B+

Chastain - We Bleed Metal 2015
The old gang is almost back together. Only drummer Fred Coury, better known from his days with Cinderella, remains a no-show.

Surrender to No One, issued in 2013, saw the welcome return of iconic female power-metal vocalist Leather Leone to the Chastain fold, and now, the band has reunited with original bassist Mike Skimmerhorn for its latest Leviathan Records release We Bleed Metal, an album that unabashedly relives past glories while wrestling with how to become relevant in 2015.

All the familiar talismans of Chastain's '80s heyday are present, from Leone's all-encompassing wail and wrathful expression giving the lash to David T. Chastain's fiery and diverse guitar shredding fury. Coexisting uncomfortably, for whatever reason, there is palpable tension between the two forces, which usually results in electrifying metal with neoclassical underpinnings, especially when propelled forward by the battering drums of Stian Kristofferson (Pagan's Mind, Firewind). Occasionally, though, they seem to be rebelling against each other as if Chastain is undergoing an attempted coup. Still, thought-provoking lyrics that press such hot-button topics as religious extremism, financial collapse and mankind's appetite for self-destruction would keep We Bleed Metal in the 24-hour news cycle if CNN and other networks of its ilk ever deigned to acknowledge traditional metal's existence. But, that's a conversation for another day.

In the here and now, there is a fire-and-brimstone rallying cry for marginalized headbangers in a soaring, stampeding title track, and nasty, rugged, snaking riffs that bring thunder and lightning to the darkened skies of "Don't Trust Tomorrow," "Against All The Gods" and "I Am A Warrior." Heavier still is "Search Time for You," a lumbering, mysterious trudge with Middle Eastern adornments that runs out of steam, but the bruising, ravenous "Evolution of Terror" and "The Last Ones Alive" – where a beautifully rendered acoustic intro succumbs to hellish brutality – resuscitate We Bleed Metal with acrid, smoky breath. With three-fourths of its original lineup intact, the current version of Chastain follows familiar paths through dense, scary woods of riffing, animalistic howls and pounding rhythms, always staying true to its mission. To deviate now would seem to be a disingenuous, desperate grab for attention.
– Peter Lindblad

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