Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review - Benedictum - Obey (Frontiers)

Benedictum are set to drop their fourth foray into the hearts of metaldom courtesy of Frontiers on November 29th in Europe and December 3rd here in the states
I must admit I've been looking forward to this for several months having been tipped off early that it was on it's way. Well today I finally got to lay ears on it and in my opinion it runs neck and neck with the brilliance that was their second release "Seasons of Tragedy".

Let's take a look at the sonic ingredients that make up the new release "Obey. So right out of the gate there's Veronica Freeman. She's been described as "a pit bull on the pant leg of heavy metal" and that's a damn fine statement. Veronica continues with her take no prisoners vocal style on this release. Also back for more this time is Pete Wells. I think this album is one of Pete's best performances. Usually the mighty V takes center stage but this time Pete has really pulled out the stops and has applied some nicely crushing riffage. In addition to the two veterans there is a new rhythm section along for the ride. Rikard Stjernquist comes via Jag Panzer. Rikard played on all the classic JP discs and has brought his drum chops on board to Bendictum. Also reporting for duty is Aric Avina from Tynator. These guys have already formed a nice solid back end for this release. The extra added boost comes by way of Jeff Pilson. Jeff has once again taken the production reigns for this one. I feel that the guy is the perfect producer for this band. Part of my great affinity for the Season disc is due to Jeff's involvement.

So what do we have on here? Well there's sorta 12 tracks. The first track is a short instrumental piece call Dream of The Banshee which ends with Veronica in full banshee wail which goes right into track 2 "Fractured". This is when I instantly knew that Pete has brought his AAA game. The amount of weaving riffage on this track is incredible. Plus he has this cool slide riff with just the right touch of fuzz holding it all together. What a great track to start off.
Next up is the title track "Obey" and again theres no stopping this train. All those same ingredients tossed together again for another serving of potent metal. Veronica and Pete very much front and center. This is shaping up nicely.
Track 3 "Fighting For My Life" throttles back the speed a bit but not the aggression. This time it's Veronica with that slow methodical threatening vocal that she does so well. You don't want to mess with the pit bull. The next one "Scream" continues in this general tempo but Rikards drum work gives the impression of a faster pace. Veronica also displays a fair chunk of hr vocal range in the breakdown here going from those screaming highs to some eerie lower register stuff. I should mention that they have really created a nice drum sound on this one. It's not the driving lower tone double bass but it sits more in the mids like classic thrash. It really opens up the sound.
"Evil That We Do" seems to me to have the most apparent Pilson production touches. Maybe I've just listened to so much of Jeff's stuff that it's been ingrained in me. The guy continues to earn his stripes with everything he touches. Once again though another solid tune.
"Crossing Over" changes the game up from the prior tacks. This one kicks off with some nice guitar harmonies before settling into an almost hypnotic groove. I recommend just plain listening to this one and really soaking up the lyrics. It paints an incredible picture.
Track 8 is "Cry" and it features Tony Martin, This one is a slow one with all the prerequisite orchestration. So theres' definitely an element of eighties ballad in here. Not a bad thing and they did sequence it in here nicely just not my favorite track on the disc.
Track 9 brings us back in line with "Thornz". If you ever wanted to hear a bunch of Veronicas sing at once than look no further, you get that and more on this one. I should also note that this is another one of those slow aggressive tracks so there's been a lot of thought put into the flow of this album as they build you back up again speed wise.
Then they they in a monkey wrench. Where I was expecting a mid tempo tune "Die to Love You" is more of a slow burn. It's also just plain different with all the extra parts and the general feel in the song. I'm still not sure if I'm onboard with this one.Probably after a few more spins it'll win me over.
The next one "Apex Nation" opens with the sound of a motorcycle. That's a sure sign that it's going to be good. Name a bad metal song that started with a motorcycle. And yes they deliver on this one. Funnily enough in the verse this tune could almost pass for something from A Sound of Thunder. I wonder if all the working together has rubbed off. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
The disc closes with "Retrograde" a seven minute epic. I'm glad they popped this on the end with the length. There's a lot to take in on this one and I think that it stands a bit apart from the rest of the album. I thinks its great that they took the oppurtunity to stretch out on this one but I'm still the fan of those shorter hard hitting tracks that Benedictum does so well.

So let's take score 12 tracks but I'm calling it 11. Seven solid winners. An epic, a ballad and one that just seems off. Add in that it IS Veronica Freeman on all of them and that this has been Pete Wells finest hour and I have to give this some major horns up. I know I'll be putting down my metal dollars for the physical cd.

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