You know what I love? When someone gets me a promo of a band I’ve never heard before with an emphatic, “Check this out!” The reason for that is they’ve quickly gotten to know me and they’re pretty confident this is something I’m gonna like and not crucify here on A&GS. And more often than not, they’re right, with a few exceptions I won’t name here. In the case of Benedictum I can definitely say that my friend Dustin was right on the money. This is a fucking serious kickass band that will slap the taste outta yer mouth and have you begging to be slapped again. Their new album Obey just came out via Frontiers Records and it is a winner across the board. Killer riffs? Check. Tight rhythm section? Check. Badass vocalist who sounds like she’d kick your ass, then do a shot over your limp, knocked out ass? CHECK!!
Make no mistake; Veronica Freeman is the real deal. WHERE her vocals come from, I’ve no idea, but they are real, raw, anthemic, and aggressive. This band isn’t for the faint of heart. They are loud, they are hungry, and they will shred you in a New York minute, ok? You can hear it in the songs, starting with title track “Obey” and “Fighting For My Life”. Guitarist Pete Wells is a riff machine, and new rhythm section Aric Avina (bass) and Rikard Stjernquist (Drums, ex-Jag Panzer) are locked and loaded on a crisp, clear production made possible by John Herrera with help from Jeff Pilson (Yis, THAT Jeff Pilson!!) who produced the first two albums and has also been a big supporter of Benedictum from day one. That in itself is really cool to see.
After the intro “Dream of the Banshee” we get “Fractured” which sounds like the heavy metal spawn of Warlock’s “Hellbound” so yeah, they had my attention right away, no? “Scream” is one that harkens back to the metal days of yore, when we looked forward to albums from bands like W.A.S.P. that we’d listen to all wide-eyed. But my favorite song is “Evil That We Do”. Pete’s riffs and solo on this are just fucking killer and Veronica’s vocals have taken up permanent residence in my brain as a result. The same goes for “Crossing Over” which is my second favorite. A great groove, smashing guitar work, and Veronica just killing it make this easily the second best tune on the record.
There are also two duets on Obey. The first is “Cry” featuring Tony Martin which is a well-executed slower song. I don’t know that I’d necessarily call it a ballad; I just think it’s really good, and the two of them sound great together. Nina Osegueda, lead singer of A Sound of Thunder lends her amazing voice to “Thornz”, a good ol’fashioned bitchfest about men who done them wrong, which is also a highpoint of this album. But I also have to say, the other song that really hit me from first listen was album closer “Retrograde”. Seven minutes of stacked riffage and a contagious hook were all it took to reel me in, and I imagine many of you will feel the same way.
I’ll say this right now. I can totally see what all the hype is about with Benedictum, and if their live show is anywhere near as kickass as what’s on this disc, then the venues better take out additional insurance, because this band will leave a trail of scorched earth in their wake. I may be late to the party, but I sure am glad that I got here when I did. Check out Obey, you won’t be sorry.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Evil That We Do”, “Crossing Over”, “Retrograde”, “Thornz”, “Fractured”, “Scream”