Benedictum – Obey
Frontiers Records – 2013
As I sit down to write this review, I have to gather myself and take a moment before tackling it. The reason is because Benedictum is one of my favorite groups and I feel the responsibility of writing something that displays my passion for the band.
Right away the melancholy keyboard tone of “Cry of the Banshee” beckons the mood of Season of Tragedy album. That lets me know something wicked and powerful will follow. It does, as Veronica Freeman lets out a glass shattering scream cracking into “Fractured.” Rikard Stjernquist (JAG PANZER) makes his presence felt immediately with his pounding drums. Pete Wells’ guitar riff is ferocious and tag-teams with Stjernquist. Veronica (a.k.a. “V”) is well…Veronica. The woman screams like a banshee, scorching the tune with her unmistakable pipes.
Well’s axe screams and squeals like the late-great “Dimebag” Darrell in the title track, while Stjernquist kicks it like Dime’s brother Vinnie Paul. The slower tempo sections give V the opportunity to squeeze in and throat instructions for us to “Obey.” The lyrical content and meaning of this song could come across silly and maybe even campy in lesser hands, but the sultry singer cracks the whip of authority.
Benedictum seems to be making a collective statement of their existence in “Fighting For My Life.” There is urgency to V’s voice as she will not let anything take her or her band down. When she sings, “You want me, a piece of me. You want me that will never be”, you’ll believe her. The background vocals reinforce their fearless leader and her fellow musicians back her with steel-like support.
The guitar and drums detonate in “Scream.” Aric Avina’s (TYNATOR) bass is the concrete slab holding the thrusting rhythm together. V matches the song’s title with long, loud, piercing cries expressing her fiery emotion.
“Evil That We Do” catches like the upswing of “The Fisherman’s” hook from I Know What You Did Last Summer. Veronica’s backing “Ooooooohhhhhh” is instantaneously contagious and will infect your metal soul. I don’t know why but this tong reminds me of Megadeth. It’s probably Pete Wells’ ass-kicking guitar work and the thumping bass & drums.
V tells an epic tale in “Crossing Over.” In some ways this song’s construction brings to mind Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell.” Veronica nails the chorus because she exerts both a delicate touch while being powerful at the same time.
“Cry” is a duet-ballad between Veronica and former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin. They have excellent vocal chemistry and the band gives them the right instrumental undergrid.
Because of the sensitivity of the previous tune, “Thornz” tears into the audio space like a rack-full of metallic spikes. Pete Wells is a heavy metal assassin, playing a lethal combination of heavy-duty licks and lead guitar that leaves no listener safe.
There is an fascinating instrumental passage to the beginning of “Die To Love You” that sounds like a circus gone haywire. The deliberate pacing of this song leaves room for Veronica to shine and Pete’s solo is out of the ordinary, as he creates an array of cool sounds on his 6-string. The soft background vocals that highlight the chorus are a nice touch.
“Apex Nation” damn near feels like it was imported from Judas Priest’s Painkiller album. A motorbike roars to life as drums stomp in before the guitar engages like a clutch to drive this blazing tune into gear. V rides the mic at full speed to break down all the barriers.
A dark male-like voice starts the head-banging “Retrograde.” Veronica is absolutely stellar, while Pete, Rickard and Aric brilliantly create a long metallic poem. There is no way you will not be able to stop your body from moving to this song’s rhythmic pattern. It classic, huge and will rattle your metal core. Benedictum’s performance of this song belongs up there with anything Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, Metallica or Megadeth has ever done.