Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BENEDICTUM - Dominion CD review

Frontiers Records
Genre: Metal
Rating: 5/5

I became an instant fan of BENEDICTUM with their 2006 debut, Uncreation. Now that was metal, powerful traditional metal fronted by a woman, Veronica Freeman, who's vocals were aggressive, not operatic and she didn't wear a prom dress. In 2008 they released their sophomore effort Seasons of Tragedy which proved that they weren't just a novelty but a force to be reckoned with. Since then BENEDICTUM have been very busy, mostly with touring and revamping their line-up. Freeman and guitarist Pete Wells are the only original members now, then again they are the main force behind this band. The roles on bass, drums and keyboards might have changed but the ferocity of the band's overall sound has not. Dominion shows that their time spent touring across Europe had a definite influence on them. Some of the material on here shows a touch of progression and yet still ensconced in their original traditional metal structure. One more thing that never gets old is their inclusion of a classic metal cover at the end but more on that later.

Contrary to previous ones this third release by BENEDICTUM took more listens for me to fully appreciate than before. Obviously the three years since their last one had an effect especially since I keep their past releases close at hand and happen to play them at least once a month. I have to whenever a guest comes over and wants to hear some "real metal", BENEDICTUM is as real as it gets. Now as far as this one goes, the opening title track will throw some older fans for a loop. Musically it's slightly Euro Progressive Metal save for Freeman's vocal prowess were she runs through her total range of screams, growls and singing. "At the Gates" adds some touches of melodic death metal (ironic?) to their repertoire plus Wells adds a face peeling solo. "Seer" falls back to the Euro Progressive Metal style and shows off how Freeman's vocal range can get operatic if she desires. She's just more powerful than prom dress wearing vamps. Songs like "Grind It". "The Shadowlands" and "Bang" are pure headbangin fun. "Prodigal Son" is a very epic metal track and at times has a DIO influence which is something that fans of BENEDICTUM have come to love and appreciate. Once again credit Wells' guitar work on here since he lays down some haunting atmosphere to his solo early on then rips your head off with a lightning fast lick, finally ending with a melodic fluid flourish.

In order for traditional metal to capture one's attention and hold it depends on variety. Dominion has plenty of that if you contrast the sinister sounding "Dark Heart" with Freeman weaving in little girl sounding vocals amidst her powerful chops. The next portion comes in the slightly acoustic ballad "Sanctuary" which showcases Freeman's ability to be soulful as well as powerful in her vocal performance. She's not just one of the best female vocalists in metal today, she's one of the best vocalists period. Yes I'm bias ever since I discovered them in the pages of Classic Rock magazine years ago. Then I heard Uncreation and decided this will be one of my favorite bands for now on. With this new one my early prediction years ago is still true. Oh yeah about that cover song, well before they've done two Dio era SABBATH cuts (on Uncreation) then did ACCEPT and RAINBOW on their last one. On here it's RUSH ala "Overture/The Temples of Syrinx" and all I gotta say is holy shit! Sure I've heard bands cover RUSH before and it's always "Working Man". But BENEDICTUM shows off why they are incredible by tackling a song from 2112 which is in my not so humble opinion RUSH's best album ever and they nail it. I can just imagine crowds going nuts when they do this as an encore. Dominion is simply one of the best releases for 2011. That's not hyperbole either true believers in Metal, it's a fact.

Label: http://www.frontiers.it/home/

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/benedictum

Official: http://www.benedictum.net/

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