“Seasons Of Tragedy” by Benedictum

Artist: Benedictum
Title: “Seasons Of Tragedy”
Label: Locomotive Records
Release Date: 3/4/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Having enjoyed their debut “Uncreation” so much I was eager to see how San Diego’s Benedictum would do with their sophomore release and I am happy to report that “Seasons Of Tragedy” stands proud on its own and finds the band proving themselves a great Metal force as tune after tune thunders by. The band is led by Veronica Freeman and she is nothing less than impressive. Her vocal style doesn’t follow the day’s trend of being either Operatic, Symphonic or Death Growling but instead seems to bring us back to a more traditional Metal singer who uses elements of each discipline as needed. Either way she can belt them out and comes off as a powerhouse on every song on the album. Musically this one is perhaps even a little stronger than the debut and perhaps this is based on the band growing into one another a little more and feeling much more confident at the task. Of course the first album rocked but with “Seasons Of Tragedy” they have effectively kicked it up a notch and it all begins with a mood-setting instrumental called “Dawn Of Seasons”. The band jumps into gear with “Shell Shock” and this is a really great opening tune since it grabs you by the throat and you can almost feel how the band does this one live since you cant help but find yourself head banging to it. Pete Wells sounds even better on this one with a number of blazing leads and trudging groove-laden riffs and does great work on tracks like “Within The Solace” and “Legacy”. Having found myself enjoying most of the tracks it was a little tricky to decide on a mere two. Completing the lineup we have Jesse Wright on bass and Paul Courtois on drums. A perfect rhythm section for this type of Metal as they hold the bottom end down and occasionally demonstrate enough of the necessary flair to brighten up a track a little more. The band is very in your face and not only finds producer Jeff Pilson once again offering up some bass guitar, but we also find George Lynch (Dokken/Lynch Mob) and Manni Schmidt (Grave Digger) on the tracks “Bare Bones” and “Burn It Out” respectively.

With “Uncreation” the band offered up two covers that I felt were welcome additions to an already solid CD and they repeat the process for one track with “Seasons Of Tragedy” as they deliver the Accept classic “Balls To The Wall”. Fans of the tune know that this is not really your “chick singer” type of song but thankfully it seems as though Ms. Freeman has enough of the necessary cajones to stand as tall as her male contemporaries in this field. This is an incredible tune that has stood up over the decades of Metal anthems and they did a fantastic job of it. Freeman brings a raspy growl to the fore with it and while it’s not an exact mimic of Udo and Accept, I didn’t mind. I really like the diversity in her voice and I think any fan of bands like Doro, Dio, and even some older Judas Priest would enjoy what Benedictum is bringing to the table. I also liked the use of double bass drumming under the chorus which is different from the original. The European release of the album comes with the Rainbow track “Catch The Rainbow” and it features guitarist Craig Goldy but the tune was not on my domestic copy and that was a shame since it’s such a good tune. I would have liked to hear their take on it. This omission was rather annoying because while the closing number of “Seasons Of Tragedy” was a powerful and driving song to take you out of the bands realm and leave you to your own devices, I also felt that it didn’t need to be over 11 minutes in length. Perhaps live this is an incredible finale but on record unless you are Opeth and Dream Theater there is little need for such an extended number. The bottom line is that Benedictum appears to be a band that means business and has a lot of intense Metal to deliver to the hungry legions. I recommend this and will be watching for an area appearance with an attentive eye.

Track Listing:
1. Dawn Of Seasons
2. Shell Shock
3. Burn It Out
4. Bare Bones
5. Within The Solace
6. Beast In The Field
7. Legacy
8. Nobodies Victim
9. Balls To The Wall
10. Steel Rain
11. Seasons Of Tragedy

Official Website: www.benedictum.net

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