Benedictum is a female-fronted American heavy metal band formed in 2005 in San Diego, CA. The members, currently, are Veronica Freeman (vocals), Pete Wells (guitar), Aric Avina (bass), and Rikard Stjernquist (drums). Benedictum, according to their own bio, follows “in the footsteps of such legendary bands as Warrior, Rough Cutt and Psychotic Waltz“, but, I’m not too familiar with any of those bands. They also invoke “power reminiscent of early Rainbow, the definitive sound of Savatage, and a nod to all the Gods of Heavy Metal.” I know Rainbow, but not Savatage. So, from my rock chick perspective, I think Benedictum is comparable to Sweden’s Sister Sin. The most distinctive feature, however, of Benedictum‘s sound is Veronica Freeman’s powerful vocals, which “are the pit-bull on the pant leg of heavy metal.” Freeman’s voice is one of the best female voices in all of heavy metal. Benedictum have released three excellent albums to date: Uncreation (2006), Seasons of Tragedy (2008) and Dominion (2011). They are currently finishing up their fourth album, which is set for release in November of 2013.
Uncreation (2006) is my favorite Benedictum album mostly because it was the first one I heard. Veronica Freeman’s vocals immediately grabbed my attention. The album opens with the sludgy Black Sabbath-esque title track, and into the thundering “Benedictum” in which Freeman chants the verses in Latin as if she’s praying to those “Gods of Heavy Metal.” And, in “Wicca”, my favorite track, she sings in defense of “the ancient rites of old” of the paganistic witchcraft religion. In “Misogyny”, a powerful statement of female empowerment worthy of Tairrie B (My Ruin), she proclaims: “You want me on my knees / You think that women are only there to please you / So take me if you will / But my spirit is something you’ll never kill.” And, in “Them”, she snarls: “They tell me I can’t cuz I’m a chick / I tell them kneel down and suck my dick.” I won’t be telling her she can’t. Finally, Benedictum offers up not one but two Black Sabbath covers, both from the Ronnie James Dio-era of that band: “Heaven And Hell” and “The Mob Rules”. The former is one of my favorite Sabbath covers next to Danzig‘s industrialized “Hand Of Doom” (yeah, I like that version of that song).
Seasons of Tragedy (2008) wasn’t as immediately appealing to me as their debut, but, eventually, it won me over, as did their third album, Dominion (2011). The Judas Priest-ish power metal rocker “Shell Shock” is my favorite, but “Burn It Out”, “Bare Bones”, “Beast In The Field”, “Legacy”, and the epic 11-plus minute title track are all good, too. “Nobodies Victim” is another empowerment song in which Freeman declares: “I refuse to be a victim / I refuse to be your victim / I refuse to be Nobodies’ victim.” But, shouldn’t it be “I refuse to be somebody’s victim”? Anyway, “Steel Rain” is Benedictum‘s first power ballad, and the cover, this time, is Accept‘s “Balls To The Wall”.
Benedictum’s latest release, Dominion (2011), was released through Italian classic rock label Frontier Records, who signed them. The excellent opening title track offers more empowerment: “I challenge your dominion / Over what I think and feel / I will not be broken on your wheel.” Other cool tracks are “At the Gates”, “Dark Heart”, the near alt-rocker “Loud Silence”, and the guitar solo instrumental “Beautiful Pain”. But, the two bonus tracks are the real standouts on this album. The first, “Sanctuary”, is an uncharacteristic passionate acoustic ballad. The second is a cover of “Overture/The Temples Of Syrinx” from the 1976 Rush classic 2112. I always loved “The Temples Of Syrinx” and this version rocks!
Watch Benedictum performing “Dark Heart” live here:
2006.03.14 – Uncreation [Album]
2008.01.11 – Seasons of Tragedy [Album]
2011.03.08 – Dominion [Album]
2013 – ?