If you’ve been keeping up with our last two issues (which also happen to be our year-end and 100th), you’ve probably noticed that there’s a new Holy Grail record coming out this month. While you’ll have to wait until January 22nd to see if your excitement about Ride The Void even comes remotely close to J. Bennett’s, guitarist Eli Santana was kind enough to pass along the gift of leather, albeit in musical form, to hold you over. More specifically, the ten tracks below represent (in no particular order) the Pasadena, CA quintet’s favorite songs “that have to do with or are dedicated purely to the greatness of metal’s most prized wardrobe accessory.” We couldn’t have suggested a better topic if we’d tried. You can listen along here.
Judas Priest’s “Hell Bent For Leather” (from 1979’s Hell Bent For Leather)
Well, I think we would be excommunicated from all metal circles if we didn’t include one of the greatest songs about the glory of leather. Thanks to the Metal God himself, Rob Halford showed the metal community how to look tough just like the patrons of the European gay clubs he hung out in. I actually don’t think Rob Halford is gay, I just think woman aren’t metal enough to satisfy him.
Cody ChesnuTT’s “Look Good In Leather” (from 2002’s The Headphone Masterpiece)
Cody ChestnuTT was one of my favorite new artists back in the mid-2000s. He hit the scene with his R&B/indie album The Headphone Masterpiece. ChestnuTT is probably most recognized for the song he did with The Roots entitled “The Seed”. “Look Good in Leather” immediately came to mind because of the sheer sassiness ChestnuTT displays in this song, stating “I can do anything I want because I look good in leather.” I sadly don’t know about being able to do “anything”, because when I went to see him at the House of Blues in Hollywood, he gave one of the most unprofessional performances I’ve ever seen in my life. Most people left before he was finished. I still love this song though.
Saxon’s “Denim And Leather” (from 1981’s Denim And Leather)
Saxon is definitely one of my favorite NWOBHM bands of all time. I saw them in 2010 and, unlike Cody Chestnutt, Saxon gave an extremely professional and stellar performance. Saxon talks about another important part of metal attire in this song: denim. This song off the album of the same name is such a great description of the scene back then, even giving you the year it takes place. I just wonder how many relationships brought together by denim and leather are still thriving today. I always imagined my Princess of the Night to be draped in denim leather. The groove on this song rules by the way.
Accept’s “London Leatherboys” (from 1983’s Balls To The Wall)
Anyone who is familiar with our band knows our special appreciation of Accept. Udo, Accept’s lead vocalist, took a page out of Halford’s book and described the ruggedness of being entrenched in leather. This is kind of a cautionary tale of the kind of element that wore leather in London in the early ’80s. I’ve caught Accept three times in the past couple of years and they were awesome.
Venom’s “Women, Leather And Hell” (from 1984’s At War With Satan)
The original black metallers themselves talk about the winning combo for any true metalhead, “Women, Leather and Hell”. The thrash/punk vibe is what made me fall in love with early Venom. It doesn’t get better than when Cronos screams, “turn that mother up.”
Metallica’s “Hit The Lights” (from 1983’s Kill ‘Em All)
This song does not have leather cleverly worked into the title, but when songs of leather come to mind, I automatically think of the first line of this song: “No life ’til leather,” originally off the legendary No Life ‘Til Leather demo. Metallica didn’t spend too much time in leather, so I can only imagine their early lyrics were trying to fit in with their NWOBHM heroes.
Judas Priest’s “Leather Rebel” (from 1990’s Painkiller)
Here’s a shocker: Judas Priest has more than one song on this list. This might be one of my favorite Priest songs ever. It’s so thrashy and powerful, it just gets me so fired up. I’m not saying it makes me want to dress in leather with vigor, but it definitely gets the juices flowing.
Urchin’s “Black Leather Fantasy” (from 1977’s “Black Leather Fantasy” single)
This is a song that our singer Luna insisted be on the list and I’m so glad he did. The intro just solidifies the connection between leather and motorcycles because they are scooting all over this song. The killer guitar work is actually very reminiscent of another great NOWBHM band employing the guitar work of both Adrian Smith and Dave Murray. This is for people who may not wear leather but fantasize about it. Probably.
Turbonegro’s “Wipe It ‘Til It Bleeds” (from 2003’s Scandinavian Leather)
We would be morally remiss if we didn’t include at least one Turbonegro song on here. This song is off the album Scandinavian Leather, which leads me to believe that leather is different in Scandinavia. Probably more evil I’m guessing. This is one of the few songs on here that sings about caring for leather and keeping it nice. I’m almost positive there are no innuendoes in there. I do really love the vibe of this song and it’s got a great breakdown in the bridge. It would be a fun song to cover.
Bob Dylan’s “Boots Of Spanish Leather” (from 1964’s The Times They Are A-Changin’)
Last but not least, we have one of America’s greatest songwriters talking about a specific part of the leather ensemble. Dylan takes our leather journey from the frozen north of Turbonegro to singing of leather from Spain. This is a sorrowful song of Bob Dylan at sea singing about the one thing he wants sent to him, his Spanish leather boots. I’m not sure I could handle being stuck in a boat having to listen to Bob Dylan sing about missing his boots. There would definitely be one man overboard. But I’d probably love this song if Scott Kelly from Neurosis were to cover it.
*Pre-order a copy of Ride The Void here.
**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
All That Remains
A Life Once Lost
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Meshuggah
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)