Chastain: Mystery Of Illusion-80’s-1985.

By early-1984, guitar virtuoso David T. Chastain had moved on from his hard rock outfit, Spike, to form the more metal-centric CJSS with the intention of exploring a direction more true to his musical vision. However, before CJSS would go on to achieve success of their own, David caught the attention of Shrapnel Records founder Mike Varney, who wanted to construct a new project around his accomplished musicianship. The #1 prospect to front the band was Rude Girl vocalist Leather Leone, who—alongside Spike and CJSS bassist Mike Skimmerhorn and future Cinderella drummer Fred Coury—cemented the initial lineup of the new project, christened simply: CHASTAIN.

A highly prolific writer, David had stockpiled a wide assortment of tracks to choose from for the group’s nine-song debut, Mystery of Illusion—resulting in catchy, high-energy salvos such as “When the Battle’s Over”; more melodic compositions like “Endlessly” with especially excellent lead work; and the slower, almost Black Sabbath-like approach of “Night of the Gods.” Recorded by Steve Fontano at Prairie Sun Recording Studios in November/December of 1984, Mystery of Illusion was released on LP and cassette through Shrapnel in 1985, with Roadrunner handling the LP in Europe. CHASTAIN‘s magic combination of David’s anthemic songwriting with Leather’s soaring vocal power opened the floodgates for the legendary careers for which both artists are now known.


Demo ’84Demo1984 
Mystery of IllusionFull-length1985
Recordings ’85Demo1985 
Ruler of the WastelandFull-length1986
The 7th of NeverFull-length1987
The Voice of the CultFull-length1988
For Those Who DareFull-length1990
Sick SocietyFull-length1995
In DementiaFull-length1997 
The 7th & The VoiceCompilation2004 
In an OutrageFull-length2004
The Reign of LeatherCompilation2010 
Wicked Riffs 8790Compilation2012 
Metal in Your FaceCompilation2012 
Surrender to No OneFull-length2013 
We Bleed MetalFull-length2015
Leather Leone
David T. Chastain
Mike Skimmerhorn
Fred Coury
Side A
1.Black Knight03:21  Show lyrics
2.When the Battle’s Over03:42  Show lyrics
3.Mystery of Illusion04:31  Show lyrics
4.I’ve Seen Tomorrow03:01  Show lyrics
5.Endlessly03:25  Show lyrics
Side B
6.I Fear No Evil04:37  Show lyrics
7.Night of the Gods05:09  Show lyrics
8.We Shall Overcome03:53  Show lyrics
9.The Winds of Change05:17  Show lyrics

One thought on “Chastain: Mystery Of Illusion-80’s-1985.

  1. Nightmare_Reality, August 2nd, 2012

    Heavy metal in 1985 was still a morphing and always changing landscape, as there were groups thrashing as hard as they could, bands that were taking evil beyond its limits (Bathory and Celtic Frost), and then there were bands like Chastain who wanted to play like their heroes in Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. A lot of American bands who played in this vein were usually a bit faster and ended up pioneering the USPM subgenre, but Chastain played very much like the forefathers on “Mystery of Illusion,” the band’s debut full-length record. Was this band’s rendition of heavy metal as good as the legends before? No, not really, but this album serves as a terrific foundation of what was to come in this band’s future.

    As many would expect, the songs on this album are dominated by midpaced riffs and a lot of melodies, which is made apparent on the first track “Black Knight,” which consists of the aforementioned riffs and a decent melodic intro. The melody that opens “I Fear No Evil” is definitely an ear-catcher and the riffs later on also follow suit. Unfortunately, Chastain wasn’t very consistent and songs like “When the Battle’s Over” and “I’ve Seen Tomorrow” tread along a mediocre path due to derivative riffs and a lack of proper execution that was seen on other memorable tracks like “Mystery of Illusion” and “The Winds of Change.” Another track that just didn’t stick well at all was “Night of the Gods,” a sludgy song that had plenty of St. Vitus and Black Sabbath influence, but this clearly isn’t the style of music that Leather Leone and the crew excel at.

    Speaking of Leather Leone, she is one of the highlights on this album with her beautiful voice that possesses an insane range. Her singing on “Endlessly” is soothing and pleasant, but she can also hit the high notes and bring a bit of aggression to her vocals as well (“I Fear No Evil”). Another bright spot on this full-length is the lead guitar work of David T. Chastain. There are of course the aforementioned melodies that show off his skill, but this man can absolutely shred and this is noted in just about every song. His solos are brilliant, there’s a perfect mix of melody and technicality in every one, adding something to remember on even the dullest of songs. “Mystery of Illusion” isn’t the greatest heavy metal album that you’ve never heard, because there are plenty out there that are better, but it’s still a quality listen from a stellar band who would later go on to unlock their real potential with their next release.

    “Mystery of Illusion”
    “I Fear No Evil”
    “The Winds of Change”

    Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s