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Austin Gold

As tough as a steer’s hide, Leather Leone's vintage voice crackles and fully lives up to the sound of her name across the scorched earth musical landscape of ‘We Are The Chosen’s ten tracks. Four years on since the release of her previous solo album, ‘Leather II’, and on the surface, the patina of her voice has developed more of a cracked lustre that fits just right on these steely songs.

Cranking up her commanding tones with maximum force, opener ‘We Take Back Control’ unzips this bag of Metal links in her musical chain (Chastain) with a fusillade of drums, bass and stinging guitar firing off in all directions. Doth the lady protest too much on the follow-up tune ‘Always Been Evil’? Methinks not! Leone states her dastardly intentions with finely drawn decorative harmonising guitars by her partner in sonic crime, Vinnie Tex.

Slowing things down a shade, ‘Shadows’ grinds out a heavy bottom-end guitar riff. ‘Off With Your Head’ reveals a banging body of instrumentation with Leone hollering over heavy axe work by Tex. As is so often found on recordings that smash and grab their way through a Metal terrain, the title track takes on epic proportions and ‘We Are Chosen’ does exactly that with a storm of keyboard effects blowing with chugging guitar and an understated vocal from Leone finding a perfect fit.

As if to dust itself down after such a full-force sonic attack so far, the atmospheric guitar picking motif and spectral keyboards on ‘Hallowed Ground’ – the longest track on the album – deceives the listener as it picks up the pace to drop back down into a misty valley of musical interplay. The hoary adage “light and shade” applies here as the song reaches an intense crescendo, in which a smoky-voiced Leone delivers her best vocal performance on this recording's standout song. ‘Dark Days’ and ‘Who Rules The World’ revert to type with an eardrum-busting barrage of clashing music. Final recording ‘The Glory In The End’ appositely closes out an album of more highs than lows.

In a subtle play, if that's possible, of Metal cliches, Leather and her cohorts have produced their defining album.

Reviewer: Paul Davies

Label: Steamhammer/SPV

Genre: Heavy Metal

Issue Reviewed In: #101

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