I have to admit that I didn’t know that much about Benedictum going into this review, apart from what was written in the press release.
The band formed in 2005 and after getting noticed by Craig Goldy released ‘Uncreation’ in 2006. ‘Seasons of Tragedy’ followed in 2008. Jeff Pilson and Craig Goldy, who made appearances on the first two albums, also appear here, along with Rudy Sarzo for guest musician duties. Along with guitarist Pete Wells and vocalist Veronica Freeman, the other members are Chris Shrum on bass, Mike Ramone on drums and Tony Diaz on keyboards.
If like me you were expecting some sort of goth opera metal sound when the first song kicks in then you’re in for a shock. I actually had to go back and check that the band had female vocals because the sound I was hearing was more male. Instead of airy fairy vocals floating around on top of the music, Veronica’s vocals are right in there in the thick of it with the other instruments and she’s holding her own. This girl can do melody as proved on bonus track ‘Sanctuary’, but a more metal approach in the lower registers is the normal style.
I’ve got to say that I hadn’t listened to the album that much before starting to write this review and the trad/power metal of the album didn’t really do much for me on initial listens. It isn’t until half way through the album and the melodic guitar of ‘Beautiful Pain’ that I tend to start paying attention. It fits in well with the following track, ‘Dark Heart’, which somehow seems more accessible that earlier tracks. This is followed by the funky metal of ‘Bang’, which is verging on catchy!
For me the band reach their peak on the final normal track, ‘Epsilon’, which is a 9 minute epic where a few progressive elements sit very well with the band.
The first bonus track is the aforementioned ‘Sanctuary’ and the second a cover of Rush’s ‘Overture/Temple of Syrinx’. Having covered Accept’s ‘Balls to the Wall’ and Sabbath’s ‘Heaven & Hell’ on previous albums, it is clear that the band don’t fight shy of a challenge. As with their previous endeavours, the band emerge after their encounter with Rush, with their reputation intact.
So after a negative start to the review, the last few songs have convinced me that Benedictum do have something too offer, especially if you are a bit of a metal head.
Rating: 3 stars