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Benedictum – Seasons of Tragedy

Label: Locomotive Records
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Kevin Alba

How did I not hear about this band sooner? Having released “Uncreation” in 2006, “Seasons of Tragedy” is the second album from Benedictum. What I find most refreshing is that while being a female fronted power metal band they draw absolutely no comparisons to Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, or Evanescence, something that is about as common these days as the bulk of new progressive metal bands being compared to how much they sound like Dream Theater. So you are probably thinking if she doesn’t have that pretty little sweetheart voice she must be a monster and sound like Angela from Arch Enemy, right? Think again!

I read somewhere that Jeff Pilson of Dokken fame, who actually has a lot to do with this album, referred to her as the female version of Dio and I can actually agree with that. Imagine a female version of Dio crossing paths with Doro during her time in Warlock and you have Veronica Freeman the sensational new female voice of power metal. Now that we know all about the voice the question is how does the band sound musically? Imagine Primal Fear and Grave Digger joining forces and adding in a bit of thrash, the result is this tremendous power house! While I make comparisons to other bands Benedictum are fully capable of standing on their own as a major force and not just another band who sounds like others.

The album opens up with an instrumental intro called “Dawn of Seasons”. Listening to this intro I get that calm yet uneasy feeling that I hear in the opening seconds of Testament masterpiece “DNR” before it explodes into the beast it is. This intro gives way to “Shell Shock” which from the very first second grabs me by the nuts and drags me across the room. Ultra heavy machine gun riffs kick off this opening track which gives way to Veronica’s killer true heavy metal vocals, something that I have been very thirsty for from a female singer. Needless to say this track left me shell shocked as I sat in complete amazement listening to the rest of the album following it.

Towards the end of “Burn It Out” on top of the menacing guitars and pounding drums Veronica brings her voice down a notch sounding sexy and seductive (“I want it faster, wheels to the ground”) pulling the listener right into the track to only get their ass kicked again seconds later.

Wow, who is playing that killer guitar solo on “Bare Bones”? None other than George mother fucking Lynch (Dokken)!

“Beast in the Field” starts off with eerie piano playing building to an onslaught of all that screams true heavy metal. The double bass arrangement with thrashing speed metal riffage that takes place before the chorus was such a killer touch. This track easily rivals the best of Primal Fear’s work.

Several tracks later we have what I consider to be the best cover of “Balls to the Wall” I have ever heard. So many have covered this Accept classic but few have managed to capture it the way Benedictum has. The opening seconds have an almost techno/club feeling to it and make you double check the cd to make sure it is still Benedictum, this quickly gives way to that oh so familiar sound that we as true metal fans love. I have heard Fozzy, Sinner, and Sebastian Bach with Wolf Hoffmann himself on guitars cover this track and this truly stands out as my favorite. George Lynch also appears on this track with Jeff Pilson as well to make it that more special. “Steel Rain” is a slower track that really brings out Veronica’s voice and shows how beautiful it is.

I cannot say enough good things about this album and how solid this band is overall. Other guests on this album include Manni Schmidt of Grave Digger fame and Craig Goldy of Dio fame. “Seasons” has surprised me incredibly and will make my year end Best Of 2008 list. I know the majority of this bands fan base is over in Europe but they are from right here in the US coming out of San Diego, California and I cannot wait to see them play on these shores at some point.

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