Benedictum: Obey review

\"BenedictumIn 2005, frustrated by the sound and direction of their current band of over a decade, Malady, and bored with playing Dio and Sabbath covers in their tribute band side project called Evilution, singer Veronica Freeman and guitarist Pete Wells embarked on a musical journey. Their intent was to bring metal something it has never seen or heard before and the result of that burning desire, Benedictum, is primed and ready to do that very thing.

Things really took off for the band when one-time Dio guitarist Craig Goldy caught them live and was blown away by what he saw and heard. He hooked them up with producer and Dokken bassist Jeff Pison, who produced their three-track demo that included a stunning cover of the Dio classic “Rainbow In The Dark.”

That demo, immediately caught the attention of Locomotive Records who signed them later that year. In early 2006, the band released their debut album, Uncreation, to major critical acclaim. Not surprisingly, that album contained two Dio-era Black Sabbath covers, “Heaven & Hell” and “Mob Rules.”

Uncreation garnered them many accolades and awards including being named one of the top bands to watch in 2006 by Classic Rock Magazine, landing a spot in Hard Rock Germany’s top 50 albums for that year and playing major festivals such as Wacken Open Air, Gods of Metal and Hard Rock Hell. They even got chosen as the opening act for tours with Doro and Girlschool.

They went on to release Seasons Of Tragedy in 2008, which contained a no holds barred, bare bones cover of Accept’s classic “Balls To The Wall,” that may very well be better than the original. In 2011, they dropped their third album, Dominion, which ended up as pick of the week by Don Jamison on That Metal Show. Not too shabby for a band that has no radio airplay or videos to speak of.

2013 sees the band at the top of their game and ready to take the metal world by storm, with their fourth studio release and first for new label Frontiers Records, entitled Obey, which is not just a title but a command to submit to the sonic onslaught they are about to unleash.

The album is loaded with muscular grooves, dynamic shifts, jaw dropping melodies, elegant thrash brushstrokes, and impassioned hooks and is groovier than an Austin Powers movie. It also contains an abundance of scorching guitar solos and infectious choruses that are catchier than the common cold.

Guitarist Pete Wells not only has the ability to write one hell of a catchy tune, but also possesses the technical skills to shred with the best of metal’s elite and femme fatale Veronica Freeman’s vocal gymnastics run the spectrum from Doro to Lzzy Hale and are second to none.

Massive amounts of credit must also be given to the ruthless rhythm section of bassist Aric Avina and former Jag Panzer drummer Rikard Stjernquist for pumping out earth-shattering doses of low end, so abrasive it could strip paint.

The album begins with a rather melancholy, orchestrated instrumental intro called “Dream of the Banshee,” that leads to an ear rattling primal scream followed by breaking glass. It signifies that “Fractured” has begun. This and tracks like “Apex Nation” are flashbacks to the 80’s sound of Accept’ “Fast as a Shark” or “Metal Heart.” You can even hear elements of vintage Motley Crue.

The lacerating hooks of songs like title track, “Obey,” and the gorgeous duet on “Thornz” which features From A Sound Of Thunder vocalist Nina Osegueda fall somewhere in the realm of Doro, Butcher Babies and Battle Beas; “Fighting For My Life” is more akin to the heavier side of Alter Bridge or Devin Towsend and features lethal doses of double kick.

The chugging riffs, powerhouse vocals and blistering solos of “Evil That We Do” and lead single and first official video ,“Scream,” sound as though they were ripped right from the pages of Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Fight and Rob Halford’s solo career. “Crossing Over” does exactly that- crosses over into the classic rock sounds of Rainbow or Dio era Black Sabbath if it were played by All That Remains, with Lzzy Hale on vocals.

“Cry” is a stellar duet with one-time Black Sabbath frontman Tony Martin. With a back and forth vocal trade off that brings to mind the vocal brilliance captured by Geoff Tate and Pamela Moore on Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime. At the same time, “Die to Love You” is a wall of sound that hosts a slow, building dissonant groove and a string section out of a James Bond score.

The album closes with a seven-minute epic, similar to Dio, Axel Rudi Pell or Trouble with a piano breakdown and string section in the middle that would make Freddie Mercury proud and would have been right at home on Queen’s classic album A Night at the Opera.

Here’s the bottom line- If your into classic rock bands like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Accept, Dio or Savatage and love female-fronted metal in the vein of Doro, Halestorm, Butcher Babies and Battle Beast, then Benidictum is the band for you. The time has come- you are powerless and must, therefore Obey

Rating: 8/10

-Eric Hunker