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Benedictum

Seasons of Tragedy

Review by Tim Jones

This quality sophomore release by Benedictum, a power metal band discovered by Dio's Craig Goldy, is solid.  Veronica Freeman is the vocalist, and has the same range as many male metal vocalists.  Her voice is strong, angry, and compliments the fantastic guitars found here.  Pete Wells is behind those guitars; Jesse Wright plays bass and Paul Courtois plays drums.  The album also includes a large number of prominent guest musicians.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dawn of Seasons
This short, atmospheric instrumental, full of emotional guitar, provides a nice introduction.
Shell Shock
This is the first chance we get to hear Freeman.  The song begins with Courtois' drums, and continues in power mode with Freeman's vocals at the forefront.  This is very much a heavy metal song, heavy on guitars, bass, and drums.  Two minutes in, the music becomes a little more interesting, and then Wells performs an incredible guitar solo.  Voices shouting "Shell shock" in the background, along with Freeman singing, finish the track.
Burn It Out
We get the sound of a car engine, followed by some very heavy guitars.  Grave Digger's guitarist, Manni Schmidt, helps out here.  Freeman conveys a very sexy tone here.  A guitar duel breaks up the song, and then we hear Freeman's sexy, demanding voice again.  This is a heavy tune.
Bare Bones
Drums and bass are soon joined by guitar.  At first, it sounds like the earlier songs, but this one has more melody. The long chorus is broken into two pieces, and the second part of the chorus is melodic, powerful, and beautiful.  It's still a heavy song, but the chorus here puts this tune above many of the others on the album.  It's a very cool piece.
Within The Solace
The chorus on this track stands out. It sounds a bit like U2's hit "Elevation" and is catchy and full of energy.  One can almost hear the lyrics being replaced with " I've got no self control, been living like a mole..."  This is a good strong song, and, despite the U2 similarities, very much metal.
Beast in the Field
There is a very pretty keyboard intro here, and then electric guitar starts up in the background.  The other instruments join in, and Freeman screams her metal scream.  It's great power metal here, reminiscent of Dio and Iron Maiden.  The guitar work in the background is excellent.  Three minutes in, Freeman's tone changes briefly, and we see a different side of her.  The music slows down, and a cool rhythmic groove permeates the music.  The track continues with a repeat of the chorus and a touch of death metal vocals, followed by a strange soft ending that warps intentionally off-key before ending the track.
Legacy
They give us some great guitar work to start this one out.  Excellent power metal, this is one of the better songs on the album.  Freeman's vocals ride on top of the instruments.  A wailing guitar solo is followed by some fast instrumental work before Freeman takes over again.  Progressive metal fans will find much to love here, with this melody and the spectacular instrumental performances.  Gentle keyboards conclude the track.
Nobodies Victim
Big on bass and drums, this is one of the heaviest songs on the album.  Death vocals make an appearance, but then the cut takes a twist and introduces a (relatively) mild and melodious chorus.  This particular chorus appears just twice (the second time to end the track) and does little to diffuse the overall heaviness.  The tune fades out, then inexplicably returns with a short instrumental recap of the melodic chorus.
Balls To The Wall
This cover of the Accept song is unrelentingly hard and heavy.  It is also a bit repetitive.  Fortunately, the musicians have a chance here to show off their talent, especially with drums and guitars.  Dokken's guitarist George Lynch helps out.  Despite the great performance, Benedictum's original songs are more likable.
Steel Rain
This is a fantastic track, and a highlight of the album.  This piece alone would make the album worth buying.  it's slow and melodic, with Freeman's yearning voice alternating between soft and heavy.  This power ballad shows off Freeman's voice better than any other song here...she's not constrained to her metal voice - wow!
Seasons of Tragedy
The title track concludes the album (unless you're lucky enough to snag the limited release with a cover of Dio's "Catch the Rainbow").  "Seasons of Tragedy" is an excellent song that begins with a chant and slowly builds into full power.  Keyboardist Chris Morgan joins to add another dimension.  Both power metal and progressive metal fans should be happy here. We get fantastic guitar solos, complex music contrasting with simple, heavy contrasting with not-so-heavy, and keyboards.  Despite this, the song stays true to the band's major influences (Dio, classic Savatage, etc.)  After eleven minutes (by far the longest track here), the album ends like it began...soft and melodic.
 
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