Where has Benedictum been all my life?
As the bulk of modern rock wallows in nameless, faceless, tuneless tripe, along comes Benedictum from San Diego, California to shake the cobwebs out of my ears and give my world a rosey glow.
Simply put, Benedictum kicks major butt.
Where do I begin to sing the praises of Benedictum? I could start with drop-dead gorgeous lead singer Veronica Freeman -- a front woman with the looks of an angel and the voice of a devil...Ronnie James Dio to be exact. No kidding. On "Heaven and Hell," the Dio-era Sabbath masterpiece, Veronica is a dead ringer for Dio. And the riff is as heavy as anything Tony Iommi ever set to tape. In short, Benedictum's "Heaven and Hell" is one of the best cover versions I've ever heard.
Okay, how about Benedictum's overall sound? What's it like? It's like...Hmmm. I can tell you what it's *not* like. It's not like most modern-era metal bands that use the guitar like it's an effect, banging away tunelessly in a wall-of-sound sort of way. (Why can't anyone write a decent riff these days? Ritchie Blackmore where are you?) Nope. Benedictum's guitar tone is powerful and heavy, yet never becomes background noise. Guitarist Pete Wells writes real, honest-to-goodness riffs.
There are two covers on the limited edition CD: the aforementioned "Heaven and Hell" and another Dio classic "Mob Rules" from the Sabbath album of the same name. Both are note perfect. Even the vocals. Which, coming from a gorgeous babe like Veronica (and not the diminutive, disctintly *male* personae of RJ Dio), is all the more extraordinary.
Veronica writes from the heart and sings from the depths of hell, dragging emotions kicking and screaming from the netherworld to shove them into the light of day. Pete Wells has a great guitar tone and an ear for a clever chord progression. He's a metal guitarist, make no mistake about it -- but with a rock guitarist's (think Nugent, Blackmore, Montrose, or Dio) ear for a catchy riff. Together, they are the heart and soul of Benedictum.
Recently, I interviewed Veronica via telephone for 90 minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat. She's an intelligent, spiritual, savvy musician with the drive and talent to make it big with her band.
And Benedictum's songs reflect that. These guys play like they're hungry for success. Theirs is an original, no-holds-barred metal that never falters, hits no false notes, and takes no prisoners -- with the epic track "Valkyrie Rising" as the CD's crowning glory. If any band deserves to make it these days, it's Benedictum.
Stand out tracks run the gamut of the disc. My personal favorites are "Heaven and Hell," "Valkyrie Rising," "#4," "Wicca," "Uncreation"...Okay. Darn near everything on the CD.
Oh, I almost forgot. Uncreation was produced by legendary Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson, with assistance from Dio guitarist Craig Goldy. The sound is pristine. The level of musicianship from all concerned is first-rate.
Uncreation is going to knock you for a loop. You'll never see the punch coming, and you'll wonder for days afterward what hit you.
This is metal done the right way.
Waste no time. Buy this disc...and then demand that your town's concert venue bring Benedictum to you. If this band tours the U.S. they're going to be sell-out huge.