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By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Saturday, November 30, 2013 @ 9:52 AM

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Frontiers Records - 2013

With the powerful vocal presence of singer Veronica Freeman, the album title feels more like a command than a simple naming device for the new BENEDICTUM CD.

You'll never mistake Freeman for a simpering pop starlet that much is for sure. But you wouldn't want that in the first place so the constantly stoked bellows that is her vocal instrument serves the band quite aptly.

The band used the short instrumental "Dream of the Banshee" to establish a mood but in the early part of the album, I found it a bit of a struggle to really sink my teeth into the material. "Fractured" comes out firing on all cylinders but it really didn't draw me in. "Fighting For My Life" was another fast paced track that sadly left me cold. On "Scream", the song was actually quite good until the minimalist chorus kicked in and left me feeling haunted for what should've been a much better song.

Through the first five tracks on the album, I was kind of disappointed. I wouldn't say I was a card carrying member of the Cult of BENEDICTUM, but I did really like their first two albums. The title track of the album was the only one I truly enjoyed (more on that later). And now here I was reviewing an album that sounded mostly like I was going to hate what I was hearing.

Of course then came Track 6, aka "Evil That We Do" and suddenly, the dog came back, the pickup truck started on the first try and the woman in my life stopped nagging...wait, that's a line for a review of a country music CD. In actuality, the song was freaking awesome!

I was in thrall to the vibe the music conjured up for the songs and I really enjoyed how the song was another rocker but not quite as power chord driven/reliant as the material on the disc to that point. And Freeman's vocals were great.

The song "Crossing Over" was more of a mid tempo track instead of an over the top aggressive tone but still, the song just worked because the band coalesced as one tight unit instead of four individual parts.

Over the course of the last 7 songs, "Die To Love You" was the only one I didn't like. I am sure that the song will have its fans and the band had to love it to put it on the disc for release but I just had a "skip it the next time I play the disc" feeling about the song.

The duet of the album is the song "Cry". The song features ex-BLACK SABBATH vocalist Tony Martin teaming up with Freeman for the ballad track. I loved the point counterpoint switch between the dueling vocal styles. It really made for an interesting listening experience where the woman in a duet has the more powerful sound of the combo. What really made the song stand out in quality was that it was a slow song that still had balls.

The two closing songs on the disc, "Apex Nation" and "Retrograde" are pure bang your head & wreck your neck tracks that will let your inner wild man, or woman as is the case, roam free.

While "Thornz" was a balls-out rocker, I enjoyed how it started out as more of a straight ahead rock and roll track that steadily grew until it was more of a power metal statement of righteous intent.

I'd be remiss not to mention the guitar work by Pete Wells and the band's rhythm section of bassist Aric Avina and drummer Rikard Stjernquist (JAG PANZER). While it is patently obvious that Freeman will generally get the lion's share of the press attention, she can't do it alone and this particular lineup of the band shines repeatedly on this album.

Now, I mentioned the title track of the album previously but it should be pointed out that this is another song where each member of the band takes their individual role in the production and gels with the others to form a perfect union of metallic wonder.

And then, Veronica Freeman makes you feel like you owe her money. There is a punishing oppressive feel to the song and at first blush, the lyrics would seem to make the song the front runner for theme song to a S&M party. And while I initially thought that I was perhaps reading WAY too much into the track, the sound effect of the crack of a whip at the end of the track sure did do much in the way of confirming what I thought I was hearing.

While it may reveal entirely too much about my knowledge of all things great and kinky, I felt as if I should've been listening to the song with a zippered leather hood on. Here's hoping that was the intent of the song, or I may just need some therapy.

When all is said and done, Obey started out slow but not only overcame the subpar beginning but eventually became unencumbered by it altogether. When the songs are at their strongest, the band is superb and Obey is something you wouldn't need to be commanded to add to your must hear list!"

4.0 Out Of 5.0

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