The V: Now or Never

Heavy Metal Goddess Veronica Freeman got her start in music back in 1995 when she and her partner in crime to this day Pete Wells formed the band Malady. The pair played together in that band for over 10 years before re-grouping and changing their name to Benedictum in 2005. Since that time they have recorded 4 highly acclaimed studio albums and amassed a massive following under that moniker. While you may be familiar with their work with Benedictum or have seen their YouTube videos with Dio tribute band Evilution, most of you will be shocked to hear what the duo are doing now. Their newest endeavor Now or Never under the name The V for Frontiers Records sees the Heavy Metal chanteuse fully exploring the complete range of her vocal prowess on a set of melodic AOR that is a million miles away from her body of work with Benedictum. Now or Never was produced by John Herrera, with the exception two songs that were produced by Michael Sweet and one produced by Kenny Lewis and features a who’s who list of guest musicians and singers, including Leather Leone, Tony Martin and Meliesa McDonell on vocals, Derek Kerswill on drums, Jeff Pilson, Aric Avina and Mike Lepond on bass and the aforementioned Michael Sweet on guitar. You can hear the influence of Sweet on opener “Again” and “Love Should Be To Blame,” which he helped write, but the voice is unmistakably Veronica Freeman. While title track “Now or Never” finds her exploring the same musical territory of Lzzy Hale & Halestorm and features something you’d never hear on a Benedictum album, a horn section. From there the album picks up steam with the lumbering rhythms and muscular grooves of “Roller Coaster,” while the attention grabbing hooks and stunning angelic vocals on tracks like “Line in the Sand,” “Spellbound” and “Below Zero” transcend predictability by drawing inspiration from Vixen and Robin Beck. Elsewhere, the lush harmony vocal layering in “L.O.V.E” makes it one of the most commercial and mainstream songs on the album, while the razor sharp riffs, driving snare drum beat and strident vocals in Freeman’s exquisite duet with Leather Leone on “Kiss My Lips” just gets better and better with each listen. Freeman’s long time working relationship with Jeff Pilson must have somehow rubbed off or entered her subconscious musical mind, cause “Ready To Burn” is a modern take on the classic Dokken blueprint, all the way down to the scorching guitar solo, while her breathtaking duet with Meliesa McDonell on “Starshine” just begs for radio airplay and ends up being one of the album’s true highlights. To keep those loyal fans happy and saving the heaviest and very best for last, closer “King for A Day” is a bone jarring duet with one time Black Sabbath singer Tony Martin that hits like a roundhouse from Mike Tyson and would fit right in on any of the Benedictum albums. Here’s the bottom line. Now or Never is the album that will have fans and critics alike screaming Freeman’s name alongside legends like Ann Wilson, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin. 8.5 out of 10. Eric Hunker