Leather — We Are The Chosen (Steamhammer/SPV)
She puts the Leather into denim and leather.
Her furious brand of heavy metal spans five decades.
And We Are The Chosen might just be her most ambitious work yet.
Welcome back Leather Leone.
Trad metal fans of a certain vintage will remember this dark-haired vixen as the piercing foil for David T. Chastain.
Together Leone and one of metal’s most iconic shredders joined forces on five cult classics from 1985 to 1990.
And the duo reunited in 2013 as Chastain’s classic line-up proved they’d lost none of that old metal magic.
But Leone’s first solo album in four years picks up the pace.
It’s testimony to an artist who still sounds hungry and hellbent on causing havoc.
And not for the first time in her storied career, Leone bounces off some seriously scorching axework.
Like Chastain before him, Vinnie Tex knows a trick or two when it comes to perfectly showcasing one of metal’s most visceral voices.
And Leone never sounded better belting out a slew of polished riff-fuelled fist pumpers.
Or should that be Polished?
Thanks to wizardly brothers Woiteck and Slawek Wieslawski (working out of Białystok’s legendary Hertz Studios) the mix is masterful.
And it’s a crying shame Leone’s voice was never elevated to such a dizzying level during Chastain’s commercial peak.
But good things come to those who wait.
And on Leather, a born-again Leone scales a new career peak.
Leather’s well-worn metal tropes might sound toe-curlingly trite delivered by anyone other than Doro Pesch’s sister from another mister.
But Leone’s reputation, experience and enduring pipes ensure she has credit in the bank when it comes to having one more crack at evil, fantasy, power and glory.
It’s no surprise that the late, great Ronnie James Dio remains an inspiration to this day.
We Are The Chosen echoes post-Ozzy Sabbath, Dio and even Elf.
In fact, it’s a must-listen for any fan of 80s metal and its rapid evolution.
Six-stringer Tex manages to nail a series of NWOBHM-styled hooks.
But there’s more than a hint of US heavyweights Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister here.
And when Leone’s dextrous sidekick really lets rip it’s like listening to Yngwie Malmsteen becoming a Rising Force.
Much as she did during her first stint with Chastain, one of metal’s undisputed queens has really lucked out with the über-talented Tex.
And the pair pull out all the stops on near seven-minute epic Hallowed Ground.
A Leppard-esque intro segues into yet another powerhouse vocal.
And Leone takes fans on a magical mystery tour — stopping off at trad metal’s various staging posts — during a poignant tribute to friend and fallen hero Dio.
The upbeat, unapologetic title track is a booming anthem for the ages.
And Who Rules The World serves as a soaring synopsis of Leone’s lifelong and unflinching commitment to metal.
Coming up on the rails with December in sight, We Are The Chosen makes a late bid for trad metal’s top pick of 2022.
Leone’s gone hell for Leather in the twilight of her career.
But it Tex two to tango…