Benedictum – Dominion

BENEDICTUM dominion COVER

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

Scheepers – Scheepers

SCHEEPERS COVER

Ralf Scheepers is best known as the lead vocalist with Primal Fear. His career in metal started with Tyran’s Pace in 1883, moved onto Gamma Ray for their first three albums, at which point he formed Primal Fear along with Mat Sinner in 1997.

During his time with Primal Fear Ralf has written some tracks that didn’t quite fit in with the band’s style and in this project, which started life back in 2007, he gets the chance to air these tracks.

I’m a bit of a late comer to Primal Fear, as I only bought my first album when they came to my attention by signing to Frontiers. That album, plus the couple that have followed have got me familiar with what Primal Fear have to offer. Indeed on this album it is apparent that Ralf is pretty happy with Primal Fear’s output, as he doesn’t feel the need to depart from it too much.

I guess the main variation is that some of the tracks adopt a more metal stance more akin to Judas Priest. That isn’t surprising as we have a cover of Priest’s ‘Before the Dawn’, Metal Mike from Halford plays guitar on ‘Locked in the Dungeon’ and Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens dueting on ‘Remission of Sin’.

Bearing in mind that this is a melodic rock site and not a metal site, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the highlights are the less metallic tracks such as ‘The Fall’ and ‘Playing with Fire’, which is the track probably closest to Primal Fear. I also liked ‘Pain of the Accused, which is a slower, longer, almost progressive track and the closing acoustic ‘Compassion’. Bucking this trend is the heaviest track, ‘Dynasty’, that is also the most radical departure from Primal Fear.

Given this man’s history, it is no surprise that he has delivered a good solo album, which will appeal especially to those who like their metal to be heavy.

Rating: 3 stars