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“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.
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“Uncreation” by Benedictum

Artist: Benedictum
Title: “Uncreation”
Label: Locomotive Records
Release Date: 3/14/2006
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 8/10

One seldom thinks of San Diego when it comes to powers of the Metal elite but when you hear the music offered by Benedictum you will know that the area has officially tossed its hat into the mix. Fronted by Veronica Freeman this is a band that is bound to cause quite the stir. Today’s Metal music finds a lot of powerful female lead singers fronting some of the best bands around; Nightwish, After Forever, Lacuna Coil and Arch Enemy all remind us of how much of a compliment to the music a female presence offers. Yet rather than fall into the same model as the above I am happy to report the difference that Benedictum gives the listener, instead of Operatic, Gothic or growls Veronica possesses a veritable Banshees wail. Her powerful lungs make her hold more in common with the likes of Doro, or even Ronnie James Dio himself. It’s a fine contrast to what people have come to expect in the role that normally has been fronting these kinds of bands. The musicians in Benedictum are equally adept with Pete Wells (lead guitar), Blackie Sanchez (drums), Chris Morgan (keyboards) and Jeff Pilson (bass). Wells does some dynamite stuff on the guitar and shows that the band is not merely backing up Ms. Freeman but instead a full unit that is out to break down some walls. Sanchez’s drumming is dead on and while not over technical he pounds it out like thunder through the bands debut. It goes without saying that Pilson is an industry veteran in terms of Melodic Hard Rock from his years of Dokken performance, and this album brings him back to playing a heavier style much like the way he originally started out. He also is the Producer of the album and this shows in the overall quality level of the recording.

I had a number of favorites from the release starting with title track “Benedictum” and “Wicca”, these are true head bangers and are sure to please fans of this type of traditional based Metal. On top of their solid original material there is an added treat in the two covers provided which are Black Sabbath and Dio (the Sabbath song being from the Dio years as well) and I was floored by how close Ms. Freeman gets to the Dio vocal register. The band has a very live sound to them and I am sure this is only the beginning of something cool. Check them out if you can as I recommend this for fans of Doro & Warlock and perhaps older Lita Ford.

Track List:
1. Uncreation
2. Benedictum
3. #4
4. Misogyny
5. Ashes To Ashes
6. Wicca
7. Heaven And Hell
8. Them
9. Two Steps To The Sun
10. Valkyrie Rising
11. The Mob Rules

Official Web site: www.benedictum.net