Leather – “II” (High Roller Records)
Probably one of the most criminally overlooked female metal vocalists of all time, Leather Leone is best known for being the singer for David T Chastain, as put together by Shrapnel Records President Mike Varney, who needed a power larynx to match the savage shredding power of the virtuoso guitarist. Step forward New York’s Leather Leone, already singing for upcoming SF band Rude Girl, who were at the time sharing stages with Suicidal Tendencies and Megadeth. Leone would go on to record 5 albums with Chastain, along with a solo record “Shock Waves” in 1989 before disappearing for the next 29 years off the music scene! Now, emerging out’ve brazil with a new band, Leone has decided to take on the world once more with “II” and man, it absolutely shreds! The first thing is just how good Leone’s voice is, both in terms of power as well as her obvious femme charms. But don’t be expecting some cutesy girl pouting in dresses, ‘Leather’ Leone is aptly named for being none other than a she predator personifying power and presence in that amazing voice – ironically something that scared many labels, promoters and even bands. Forever fighting her corner, Leone seems to have found some true justice in Rodrigo Scelza and his production company, who, like Varney has made it all possible once again by bringing in some truly talented musicians to back her – and all with a penchant for 80s US power metal! As such “II” is 11 tracks of authentic metal truly in that vein, stoked with fretboard freneticity but equally balls deep power melodies and strong passion throughout, as carried through in no small part by the brilliance of Leone herself. Beyond the amazing performances that make it sound like these guys have been playing for years, it’s the incredible compositions which resonate metal at its finest in melding molten music with red hot passion. From the double bass propelled ‘Hidden In The Dark’ with its fast jumping riffs and classy guitar melodies along with Leone’s soaring vocals, it just makes you wanna head bang, play air guitar and sing along to the catchy chorus all at the same time! When things slow down on ‘Sleep Deep’ it doesn’t make an iota of a difference as Leone’s sultry tones and highs exude the class and deep passion all over the powering backing guitars and slow double bass beats excellently executed by drummer Braulio Drumond. With my pulse soon hitting explosive levels, the soft ballad ‘Annabelle’ had me hoping for some respite but alas no, for the dark clanging guitars soon had heavy groovy riffs and thumping drums hitting home while Leone literally sang her lungs out in power and emotion on what was probably her standout performance in this already high achieving release – truly breathtaking. An absolute powerhouse of an album, it’s long overdue that the world bowed down and acknowledged the undisputed talent of Leather Leone!