Axe-man David T. Chastain made a significant impact on the development of Thrash with his captivating approach to shred guitar and his flexibility in terms of musical composition. The strength of CHASTAIN's work, however, stems from the unique dynamic that female vocalist Leather Leone adds to the distorted riffs, syncopated double bass drums, and mixolydian lead work found on CHASTAIN’s formative releases.
Female vocalists often enable bands to explore softer subjects with lyrical content that most male singers could not tackle without bordering on balladism. However, what rocks more than a woman who pulverizes you with the power of an avalanche and leaves you fighting for breath at the bottom of some mystical canyon? That is exactly what you will find on “For Those Who Dare.” Don’t get me wrong: Leather Leone is no Angela Gossow, but she possesses a feminine shrill that rings more genuine in the ears of most modern listeners than the falsetto-driven male vocalists competing on the 80's Metal scene.
The vocals on “For Those Who Dare” set the foreground for other female-fronted acts such as ARCH ENEMY and AMARAN while remaining true to the time period and culture surrounding the Metal scene throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. The lyrical content does not stray from previous releases as most songs loosely convey a message of uprising through various mythological and metaphysical themes without becoming too poignant or direct. The motif of a quest appears throughout the album, which makes the choice of the album (and song) title an appropriate one.
Leather's vocal range enables CHASTAIN to experiment with dropped tunings, although his tone often detracts from the power of working in lower keys. The overall effect shines best on tracks such as "The Mountain Whispers" where Leather remains rough and unrefined. "For Those Who Dare," "Please Set Us Free," and "I Am The Rain" all showcase CHASTAIN's classical experimentation while Leather unifies the album with consistent and dynamic contributions. Leather brings semblance to the band, and without her influence “For Those Who Dare” would remain uncharmed - although technically perfect.
What Leather fails to provide stems from her inflexible nature. She holds a raw and pure talent that distinguishes her as an innovator but changes little from track to track. Her replacement, Kate French, provides a more emotional assembly in terms of pitch and lyrical subject matter; however, the precedent that Leather set by juxtaposing sweet feminine charm with unsubtle shrills carries into Kate's contributions as well. Leather's impact on female vocalists has spread into many existing Metal genres, and “For Those Who Dare” best encompasses her style and approach. The significance of this album will remain an anomaly that enabled the future of Metal, as well as the career of a prolific guitarist, to take shape.
(Online March 4, 2007)