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Benedictum

Uncreation

Review by Greg Olma

I have not been this impressed with a debut release in quite some time. Benedictum is San Diego's newest metal export and is a fine one at that. The band is a nice mix of old school metal with new metal flavors added to keep things fresh and relevant. Veronica Freeman, the lead singer, possesses a rich and husky voice that fits the music perfectly. Even though female fronted groups seem to be in fashion lately, Benedictum is no corporate gimmick. The band are no mere sidemen either. Each one puts in a powerful performance with Pete Wells especially standing out. The production gives his guitar a nice fat, chunky sound without sacrificing the subtleties of the song. If you are a Ronnie James Dio fan, you will find this CD the next best thing.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Uncreation
This track starts with a backward evil voice and then moves into a Black Sabbath sounding tune. During the chorus, the band brings in some of that new metal sound to keep this more current.
Benedictum
The band's signature track begins with some religious chanting. I don't know what it is, but the Latin lyrics in this song make it sound evil. It definitely has that Sabbath vibe but again, newer metal moments are brought in to keep it fresh.
#4
If I were to look for progressive elements in any of the tracks on offer here, this is the song that I would pick. There are some odd time changes that give it a very loose prog feel. The band also adds some Hammerfall type chanting in the chorus.
Misogyny
This cut is a plodding, doomy rocker. Keyboards add a nice melodic touch to keep this from being one-dimensional. The fact that there is a little keyboard solo that harkens back to that Deep Purple sound gives it extra points in my book. Veronica also puts in a very forceful performance during this piece.
Ashes to Ashes
There is a nice groove that starts this tune but ultimately, it turns in a galloping rocker. It's not a bad cut; it just doesn't have the same magic moments that the other tracks have.
Wicca
This is a very Dio-esque sounding piece and quite honestly, one of the best songs on the disk. The stars must have been aligned at the time of recording because the band sounds at their best.
Heaven and Hell
Yes, this is the old Black Sabbath classic and this is by far the best version I have heard (aside from the originators). Benedictum change up the beginning and the end a bit but they stay true to the majesty of the original. Anyone who thinks a woman can't sing a Black Sabbath song needs to hear this. They will change their mind very quickly.
Them
This is probably the heaviest song on the CD. It also has a chorus that is so catchy that you will be humming it for hours. I can picture this as being one of their stand out cuts live.
Two Steps to the Sun
I can really imagine Ronnie James Dio singing this guitar heavy rocker. It is something that might have been found on the Strange Highways release; more of a modern Dio sound. Even the title of this track is very Dio-esque.
Valkyrie Rising
Every metal album of this type has an epic song and "Valkyrie Rising" is this album's epic track. It starts off slow and then at about the 2 minute mark, it quickly speeds up to quite a rocker. Keyboards play a heavy role in the sound of this piece. Craig Goldy also makes an appearance on guitar.
The Mob Rules
While "Heaven and Hell" had a Benedictum feel to it, this track (another Sabbath cover) plays it too close to the original. Had they mixed it up a bit, I think it would have worked better. The music and vocals are spot on but that is really the problem. They are too close. The band has enough talent and feel to be able to keep the spirit of the song while adding the own elements too it. Also of note, Jimmy Bain (of Dio and Rainbow fame - ed.) plays bass on this track.
 
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