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Released: 2014, Frontiers Records
California’s Benedictum is one of those bands that just can’t seem to keep a stable lineup, and yet they just keep plugging away. Here, on OBEY, the band’s fourth album, only powerhouse vocalist Veronica Freeman and songwriter/guitarist Pete Wells remain from 2011’s fiery DOMINION album, with previous members being replaced by Aric Avina on bass and the most-excellent Rikard Stjernquist (of Jag F’n Panzer) on drums. Despite the turmoil, Benedictum keep churning out thunderous heavy metal, and OBEY is no exception.
As you’d expect in the realm of traditional metal, OBEY picks up pretty much where DOMINION left off, being chock full of headbangable songs, spiced with the occasional ballad, and an undeniable progressive tendency (particularly in “Retrograde”). Freeman’s voice is as stellar as ever, as she sings, howls, screams, and growls her way through the album’s 12 tracks. Her voice is definitely the main attraction of the band, and it amazes me that she can be soft and tender on a song like “Cry” and then wail like Dio & Dickinson on the next song (“Thornz”). She definitely deserves more attention from metal fans. Not to be outdone, Wells’ riffs are pure crunchy metal goodness. The best songs are the straight-ahead metal songs like the aforementioned “Thornz” or the title track.
My theory is that an album doesn’t truly need more than ten songs, and sure enough, there are two that I would cut from this album as well. The ballad, “Cry” is merely OK, despite the fact that it features an unexpected and enjoyable cameo vocal from Tony Martin. As well, “Die to Love You” isn’t up to the standard of the other songs, being a plodding track with weak lyrics. The rest of the album is heavy metal mana and will easily get your head banging and foot tapping.
Four albums and nearly a decade into their career, Benedictum have yet to release a weak album. OBEY is yet another rock solid jewel in the band’ crown and should be heard by all metal fans.
1. Dream of the Banshee
4. Fighting for My Life
6. The Evil That We Do
7. Crossing Over
8. Cry (feat. Tony Martin)
10. Die to Love You
11. Apex Nation
Veronica Freeman: Vocals
Pete Wells: Guitar
Aric Avina – Bass
Rikard Stjernquist: Drums
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