Traditional heavy metal force Leather return with their second release in 29 years. This band is extremely new to me and given that they haven’t released any new material since 1989 fronts the question; is the flame still there? After listening to some tracks form Leather’s debut offering and comparing it to their latest (though Catherine is the only original member remaining) I can assuredly answer that question with a loud yes.
II delivers the kind of heavy punches one would come to expect from a traditional heavy metal band. Songs such as “The Outsider” go the route of portraying the outcast of a society through self confidence, arrogance and hatred; whilst others like “Black Smoke” and “American Woman” tackle the issues of mental freedom, pride and even promote a bit of feminism through the lyrics. Upon first entry and completion of listening the many chapters of II, my 1st impression was a bit below average due to the arousing feeling that the latter side of the music seemed to emit more confident songwriting in contrast to the first five opening tracks that were not bad at all but seemed as though they were written and recorded hastily. The latter moments of the b side should have served as the opening tracks of II. More seemed to be missing, therefore a 2nd play-through was instigated and it is then that the album began to gel and make sense as a complete entity. Though not perfect, the discovery made was that each told an individual story that captured and reflected the rebellious essence of traditional heavy metal in this modern societal structure, therefore establishing a cry of relevance and reason. Upon determination of whether II played to any particular theme in the current times came the inspection of whether or not the instrumentation was acceptable.
Each song carries its own unique melody, ring and pacing. One prominent factor happens to be the guitar solos featured on II which are very well composed and played with flare by Vinnie Tex and Marcel “Daemon” Ross. This combination aided in augmenting the memorability and framework of each entry. Tracks like “Annabelle” and “Hidden in the Dark” demonstrate very slick guitar soloing and pose threateningly to anything that dare questions or challenges it. Catherine’s vocals sound demanding and perhaps even better than it did in the past. Her vocals have definitely matured well with her age and there are hardly any signs of weakness in her singing and screaming abilities. The drumming by Braulio Azambuja is solid and goes along well with Thiago Velasquez’s baseline. Production-wise, II sounds modern, yet the ambiance of the late 80’s early 90’s traditional heavy metal scene is resurrected and engraved into the character of this latest offering.
II is definitely a convincing, compelling and welcome return by Leather; anyone disputing II’s relevance will be hard pressed to find that subjects addressed prove that Catherine is still a presiding force within the traditional heavy metal community.