A good and successful review/article, regarding the past and especially different eras (that will hardly be repeated), must meet a specific standard, other than the author’s sufficient -if not absolute- knowledge of said era. The words must have the ability to take you back in those years, each sentence must be able to let the reader experience that era and what the circumstances were. Instead of that, most of the times we’re reading (I guess not very often on Invader) the authors personal allusions and memories filtered by their basic need to promote themselves and remind us that “I was there, I lived that era” and that’s their main goal, disregarding what the article is about in the first place. The best we are able to give to our readers though, is a good “companionship” or the spark for a good conversation, we shouldn’t take ourselves too serious guys….
In the whole course of the heavy sound and especially Heavy Metal, from all the trends and fads that crossed it, either music-wise or style-wise, one thing was never washed over. That of being “macho” -or what we call being a “tough motherfucker”- the extreme pompous manliness. As funny as that sounds to many (I hope to most in the future), that A-Male attitude it’s still not overwritten in our music, in this day and age. Let alone in the ‘80s. To give you some insight on that decade, most of the fans back then were physically fighting over Rob Halford’s straight orientation. It was so unthinkable that the Metal God could be gay, regardless how obvious it was by the way he was dressing himself or the way he acted. Blinkered or not, that’s how far peoples mind could go, back then, they turned a blind eye to anything else. During all these, great guitarist David T. Chastain, for about 5 years (1985-1990) entrusted the key position behind the microphone to a female, Leather Leone. Together, they presented 5 brilliant albums of pure US Heavy Metal, embellished with Power and Thrash elements. Even if you were little involved with this genre, it’s impossible to never heard of some of the legendary “Mystery of Illusion” (1985), “Ruler of the Wasteland” (1986), “The 7th of Never” (1987), “Voice of the Cult” (1988) and “For Those Who Dare” (1990). Chastain’s incredible shredding guitar, catchy choruses, galloping riffs and Leone’s characteristic vocals, made it to the “gold pages” of the Metal Bible.
Leone though, felt like she was living under the famous guitarists shadow and that she was limited by the repenting musical pattern of Dio/Priest, that the band was following. Any novelties, or changes in the sound, were barely noticeable, from album to album. What was most important though, was Leonne’s desire to firstly stand out and show that she is “self-luminous” and has a greater cause, which she proved when she seared off from Chastain. Even though the decision of releasing a solo album was based on the desire to sing something different, in reality, we won’t find any big differences in her solo attempt, compared to Chastain’s next album “For Those Who Dare”, that was released a year later through Roadunner as well, neither in their previous albums. Obviously, that’s not something bad. Actually, the opposite.
Whether “Shock Waves” is Leone’s whim or not, it still proved to be a wise (musically/metally) move by her, the quality of it, it’s the evidence we need. Yet, it commercially failed and it’s hardly ever mentioned by fans, which I find unfair. Hardcore metalheads remember that album, mostly because of Mark Sheltons (Manilla Road) appearance in the self-titled track of the album, which he composed. Generally, in this album, or I better say for this album, many huge musicians worked together. The rhythm section is David Harbour (bass) and John Luke Herbert (Drums), which aren’t random names, both worked with King Diamond as well with Chastain, while Michael Harris on guitar, played in Arch Rival (check their great album “In the Face of Danger” (1991), with the incredible hit “Siren’s Song”), Surgeon and Zanister (another of Chastain’s project). Except for David T. Chastain and Mark Shelton (Manilla Road) that composed songs as I already mentioned, Pat O’Brien (of Lethal and later Nevermore for a while (1995) and Cannibal Corpse since 1998) had an important role on it, same as Leonne herself. She was familiar with the people around her, so the whole atmosphere was friendly and warm. That was the proper environment to thrive!
The album isn’t solely based on sharp riffs or frantic pace on guitars, since there’s a balance between fast and slow songs. “Fast” songs such as the intro “All Your Neon” and “The Battlefield of LIFE” (composed by David T. Chastain that starts slow but progresses to a galloping rhythm, mid-tempo hymn, with the very smart riff after the catchy chorus, that gets repeated often throughout the song and makes it stand out), “Shock Waves” (that has a lot of Manilla in it and its most likely the best track), really stand out in this album. The “slow” tracks are based in Leonnes hoarse vocals that -as a rougher version of Pat Benatar- spits out the lyrics and turns any song to a hit and possibly to a Single. “Something in this Life” stood out to me that resembles Lethal but Metal Church, while the use of keyboards/synth give nostalgic 80s vibes and combined with the virtuosic solos, create a unique atmosphere (“It’s Still In Your Eyes” is an amazing track).
The album was released in 1989 through Roadracer (affiliated with Roadrunner) and through Chastains label, Leviathan Records. It was re-released 9 times, last one was that of Divebomb on 2010.