Review by Daniel for Chateaux - Chained and Desperate (1983) Review by Daniel for Chateaux - Chained and Desperate (1983)

Daniel Daniel / May 10, 2019 / 0

1983's "Chained & Desperate" is the debut studio album from a four-piece heavy metal act from Cheltanham, England going by the name of Chateaux, which is a pretty ordinary name for a metal band it has to be said. Chateaux seems to have been the brain-child of guitarist Tim Broughton as he was the only band member still around to take part on Chateaux’s second album the following year so it’s a pretty safe bet that he was the main song-writer & contributor here. Tim formed the band as a three-piece under the name of Stealer back in 1981 with bass player Alex Houston handling the vocal duties. It wasn’t until two years later that we’d see the release of Chateaux’s first full-length recorded output & interestingly it features Grim Reaper vocalist Steve Grimmett behind the mike in a purely guest capacity. 

There are a number of distinguishing features of the album that are worth mentioning. Firstly, the production of the guitars is extremely raw, intense & over-the-top. The distortion level was maxed out, creating a wall of out-of-control noise that would suck a fair bit of the commercial appeal out of the material but would also give it a unique personality by creating a point of difference. It’s bold & uncompromising & I’ve gotta say that I kinda like it. I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t an influence on someone like Tom G. Warrior from Hellhammer & Celtic Frost. Just check out the similar style of riff at the start of “Straight To The Heart” which comes complete with very similar grunts to the ones that Tom would later become known for. Pure coincidence? I don’t think it is.

Tim Broughton is far from a proficient lead guitarist. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he’s very sloppy & has little to no understanding of musical theory, however the unusual production job gives his largely inadequate guitar solos an element of cool factor that manages to overcome his clear lack of technique. The rhythm section doesn’t do anything too flashy but they provide an effective accompaniment that allows the song-writing to do the job it was intended for. Chateaux are a fine example of a band that overachieves by working predominantly to their strengths. You can expect simple but effective song-writing from a band that know their skill sets well & don’t try to be something they’re not.

The other main talking point is Steve Grimmett’s soaring vocals which are nothing short of outstanding. He’s a classic heavy metal singer with a bit of Foreigner’s Lou Gramm & Whitesnake’s David Coverdale about him. I’m honestly not sure that “Chained & Desperate” would be worth listening to without him. He gives some of this material a genuinely anthemic quality & there are a few songs that really get under my skin. In fact, I’d go so far as to claim a couple of them as genuine NWOBHM classics. It’s a real shame that Steve would only appear on this album before moving on to concentrate on his own band Grim Reaper because I’m a big fan of his work here.

Musically, Chateaux push a style of heavy metal that’s not uncommon for the New Wave but their sound definitely helps to separate them from the pack. Label-mates Savage spring to mind as they also sport an ultra-heavy guitar sound that enhances their overall package. Chateaux build their songs around big guitar riffs in a similar way to Witchfinder General or Diamond Head’s first record & I find that an appealing prospect right from the start. It’s a really interesting record that had the potential to compete with the tier one bands if not for a couple of weaker tracks. Fans of the NWOBHM should definitely give it a few spins.

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