Veronica Freeman…many of us know her simply as THE V, and also as the lead singer for heavy metal band BENEDICTUM, whose last album Obey was really, really good. But I’ll bet a lot of you didn’t know that there was more to her than just a Heavy Metal Goddess, and that she also has a melodic side. Hell, I’m not really sure SHE even knew it until the idea for this new solo album Now or Never (out now, Frontiers Music) came around. The press releases will all tell you how much she’s “stepping outside her comfort zone” on this record. Quite frankly that couldn’t be further from the truth. Never have I heard someone sound more at home than THE V on these tracks. I don’t make it a habit of flaunting my access to artists, but I’ve been hearing these songs since long before they were fully mastered and I told her point blank way back then how I thought this was some of her absolute best work yet.
The proof lies in songs like “L.O.V.E.” and “Line In the Sand”, the former dazzling with an unforgettable pre-chorus and riff-tastic guitar work, and the latter serving as a battle cry for anyone who may be in need of motivation; stand up for yourself, go out and take what’s yours, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to do what’s right for YOU. CHASTAIN’S own Leather Leone shows up for a duet vocal on “Kiss My Lips”, a song that combines the heavy and melodic , as does title track “Now or Never.” The stompin’ groove of this one means it has to be the second song played in a live setting, after a straight-ahead rocker. I can see a drummer just hitting that kick drum and getting a crowd all riled up now. One of the heaviest tunes is album opener “Again” which wouldn’t be out of place on a BENEDICTUM record by any means.
The tempo and groove of “Rollercoaster” certainly make for a great time, and one of the album’s absolute best moments comes in “Starshine.” Lately when I’m having a shit day I just fire this one up and as soon as I hear that chorus, I know that this too shall pass. A killer highway driving song reminiscent of early DIO is the best way to describe “Ready to Run” while “Below Zero” showcases a fluidity previously unseen, and it works very well. Tunes like these are always the ones I gravitate toward, not that I’m ever untoward, obviously. You can really hear the emotion in V’S voice on “Love Should Be to Blame”, which is chock full of hills and valleys.
Another duet closes the disc in “King For a Day.” Tony Martin (do I even need to?) brings a nasty energy to this slow potboiler, and the way these two play off of each other is a chemistry you just can’t fake. All in all, Ms. Freeman, THE V, has put out arguably the record of her career with Now or Never. The hard work has paid off and the results speak for themselves. With a list of guest musicians like Pete Wells, Mike LePond, Garry Bordonaro, Michael Sweet, and Jeff Pilson helping, how could they not? Now let’s hope for a full-on U.S. tour because anything less would be downright criminal. And it better come to Philly; I’ll get the crab bisque ready…
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Starshine”, “L.O.V.E.”, “Line In the Sand”, “Now or Never”, “Ready to Run”, “King For a Day”