The Female Metal Valkyrie Veronica Freeman and her band Benedictum have been busy working during the past few months. A new Benedictum album is in the works and will be a complete return to a traditional but powerful feel – much like the band’s first 2 albums. Working with the band on the production is Grammy Award Nominee and Billboard charting producer, John Herrera and of course Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner). Jeff has already had one writing session with Benedictum and Veronica has just returned from her second writing session with Jeff Pilson this past week. Craig Goldy (Dio) has been writing with Benedictum as well and there will probably be some vocal duet surprises on the album too. The songwriting team of Pete Wells and Veronica Freeman is however still in full effect and with Rikard Stjernquist (Jag Panzer) adding to the mix there are some powerful great ideas coming to life.
But Veronica is also working to show another side of herself. In Veronica’s words: “I had a lot of input and encouragement from Frontiers in the previous months to try and stretch myself with different musical styles and approaches. So I have decided to accept their proposal for a solo album – which will be released under the moniker of” THE V“. Musically Veronica will be pursuing a much more melodic and hook-friendly direction. John Herrera will also produce this endeavor and there should be some special guests appearing in the writing and performing dept including a song from Jerry Dixon from Warrant and some bass performances from Brad Lang from Y&T as well as from Jeff Pilson and others to round out the talent that will be involved with this project. Pete Wells will also show his other side with some of the music he is contributing to this project.
Both new albums will be released in 2013 – Benedictum are really looking forward to also being able to perform in Europe in 2013 so lookout for Veronica’s talents both in Benedictum and with the V sometime soon! We all really hope you will enjoy all the music that is coming your way!
When I first heard that Frontiers Records signed Benedictum, I was pretty surprised. I have listened to their first two CD’s Uncreation and Seasons of Tragedy and knew that this was a really heavy band.
Kudos to Frontiers Records for stepping out of their Melodic Rock comfort zone for releasing one of better metal CD’s of 2011.
The über sexy Veronica Freeman is one of the most amazing female vocalists I have ever heard. She can scream, growl, and sing in a way that is so impressive, it blows my mind that Benedictum isn’t much higher in the food chain of heavy metal. Guitarist Pete Wells may be Freeman’s metal equal. His playing on Dominion is nothing short of amazing. He is one of the unsung heroes of heavy metal, and Dominion should change that.
On Benedictum’s third effort, Dominion, the band doesn’t hold back any punches, and delivers one super tight metal album, filled with songs deserved to be played at maxium volume. Benedictum has obviously caught the eye of many hard rock veterans, as Dominion features guest apperances from Jeff Pilson, Craig Goldy and Rudy Sarzo!
The title track “Dominion” is a heavy face melter, that just blows my mind when I hear it. Freeman’s voice is at such a low register, I had to make sure it was still her that was signing.
“At the Gates” pummels you with its heavy bass drumming of Mike Pannone, and absolutely kills you with the awesome lyrical delivery from Veronica Freeman. You can’t listen to “At the Gates” without banging your head!
“Grind It” is one of the shorter numbers on Dominion, and yet, when I hear Freeman growl in her lower register, it send shivers down my spine, and puts a big METAL smile on my face. Awesome!
You can practically hear the influence of Ronnie James Dio in Freeman’s delivery of “Prodigal Son”. This is another heavy and cool tune!
The fantastic fretwork of Pete Wells matched with the keyboards of Tony Diaz on the brief instrumental “Beautiful Pain” reminded me a lot of Whitesnake, and left me salivating for more songs in this fashion. This song serves a cool intro the rockin’ tune “Dark Heart”.
“Bang” is a fist pumping, metal anthem that will get a ton of replay from this metalhead! This is the biggest metal anthem of 2011!
Benedictum slows it down for the acoustic number “Sanctuary”. This song while not a heavy tune, would sound great on radio. It is a shame that there aren’t many DJ’s out there with the balls to play it.
Benedictum has included some impressive covers on their first two CD’s, and Dominion is no exception. The cover of “Overture/Temple Of The Syrinx” from Rush’s 2112 shocked me as to just how good it it. This song closes out Dominion in fine metal fashion.
If Benedictum keep releasing albums as impressive as Dominion, they are going to conquer the world of heavy metal. If you are a metal fan, get this CD, and play it loud!! It gets better with every listen! Highly Recommended!
Rating: Out of 10
2. At the Gates
4. Grind It
5. Prodigal Son
6. The Shadowlands
7. Beautiful Pain
8. Dark Heart
10. Loud Silence
13. Overture/The Temples of Syrinx
Veronica Freeman – Vocals
Pete Wells – Guitars
Mike Pannone – Drums
Chris Shrum – Bass
Tony Diaz – Keyboards
BENEDICTUM – VERONICA FREEMAN – The third studio album “Dominion” from Benedictum was released on March 8th, 2011, on Frontiers Records. Any fan of this band knows that lead vocalist and founding member Veronica Freeman has a strong Hard Rock and Metal voice. What I didn’t know was just how positive, friendly and humorous Veronica’s personality really is. I found out for myself, upon our initial introduction, as to how proud and protective Veronica is towards her band’s name. Let me explain…
You see, this middle-aged Metalhead writer suffered either a senior moment or a brain burp. Take your pick. I called Veronica’s band “Benediction” and there was no turning back. Yes, I wanted to make my get-away, right as the last syllable of the incorrect band name leaped from my tongue. Too late for that. Veronica was all over me like a pissed off parochial school nun with a swinging ruler. After several apologies and excuses on my end, we both settled into mutual laughter about it all.
The laughter on my end continued, once Veronica informed me she was wearing her fuzzy slippers while doing this interview I laughed some more. My vision of Veronica Freeman will never be the same. Just kidding. I admire the vocals of Veronica equally as well as the Metal her band Benedictum plays. There was just one promise Veronica wanted me to keep… that was to tell the world I mispronounced her band name. I made good on it. I wouldn’t dare break a promise to Veronica Freeman. Her outgoing and yet playful personality made for a memorable interview. Here is what Veronica had to say:
HRH: Benedictum is carrying on where they left off with “Seasons Of Tragedy”. Do you feel like your on a speeding natural high with the completion of “Dominion”?
VERONICA: I think I’m on that everyday! I’ve done more interviews on this “Dominion” album than the last two albums combined. This album was like giving birth!
HRH: Benedictum blends so many styles together, with Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Thrash and Progressive too. What is the secret to having your band’s sound come across so fluid?
VERONICA: I don’t know, it’s secrets I can’t reveal! There is a lot of input from the other band members on “Dominion”. I’m open to input. If it’s too out of the realm, then I’ll back off. With new band members, we have a different feel too. We just create feel-good and passionate songs. It’s a culmination of influences too. When Pete and I write, we have a groove within our thoughts that just comes out!
HRH: Influences can and do define a vocalist. Are you comfortable knowing you are most likely an influence already to a young generation of girls?
VERONICA: Hey, I never heard that, name one girl!
HRH: Hard Rock and Metal is global and I’m certain you have younger girls looking up to you somewhere, whether it’s America or even out in the Middle East.
VERONICA: Okay, then I would probably be beyond honored if that was the case.
HRH: There are many bands out there, only not as many are fronted by a charismatic and talented female vocalist like yourself.
VERONICA: Thank you! Your absolutely right, there are so many bands out there, some good and some bad. I just hope they (female fans) get empowerment from my voice. I like my stuff to express myself, it’s almost cathartic to me. The lyrical content coming from the frustrated and jaded feelings of my past comes out in my songs. With my lyrics, I also like to express hope, something in which you need to keep going! I do want people to remember me. I’m just grateful! I do know a lot of people have more opportunity and less opportunity than me out there too.
HRH: What advice do you have for aspiring female vocalists of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal?
VERONICA: How about advice for all aspiring vocalists?
VERONICA: I’m all for empowerment, but I’ve always wanted to be stronger and want to bring it! I like to keep a certain standard. It’s a lot more acceptable now to have detractors. I would say don’t rely on the female “thing” and just be a good vocalist. I don’t want to work that angle with the female “thing”. Being a female vocalist in Metal, it’s not that unique or a novelty anymore. You have to make sure you have a mentor and learn how to gravitate and maneuver. Females in particular, be yourself and try not to get pigeonholed into that certain “thing”.
HRH: I admire your attitude and style, Veronica. Still, there are female fronted bands out there that sound carbon copy.
VERONICA: I know what you mean. When I hear certain bands, I’m like, wow, I want to sound angelic like that or growl like that. You can’t be afraid to be the unique creature you are. You must be true to what you are and what you do.
HRH: You do have your vocal uniqueness. You have a male tone about your voice.
VERONICA: I know I can have that real masculine tone, it goes with Metal! It’s therapy for me, to get out my inner angst when I’m singing. I can’t do that opera stuff, it’s just not me.
HRH: You cover Rush on “Dominion” with “Overture/Temples Of Syrnx” in a most admirable way. What more can be said about Rush other than they belong in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
VERONICA: Do you know how long I’ve been singing that song? All my life! It’s like a dream come true to cover this song! I wanted to do justice with it, Rush fans are very protective of their band.
HRH: I’m a lifetime Rush fan.
VERONICA: I’m glad to hear that, it means you’re not mindless! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) Gee, thanks!
VERONICA: Rush influenced me and the way I write. I like those epic kind of songs that take you somewhere, to evoke something from me and gives me energy. It’s sonic stimulation!
HRH: Wow, sonic stimulation, that sounds good!
VERONICA: Doesn’t it? It could be a name for a band.
HRH: Well, it sounds like a Punk band with the word “sonic” it it.
VERONICA: Yeah, maybe. As for Rush in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? That should have happened a long time ago, it’s so obvious! I want to tell that place to get a clue!
HRH: What is the one key element that is missing in today’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal world that existed twenty five years ago?
VERONICA: I was just talking to somebody about this! The key is marketing. There’s no promotion on radio. Classic Rock radio stations has some rotation, but no new stuff is really mixed in to promote new bands. There are no teaser tracks from your favorite band’s new albums anymore, like there was years ago. There’s no avenue of mass promotion anymore. You have to go seek it out now, it’s out there, only you just have to find it!
HRH: If you could interview one Rock ‘n’ Roll legend, past or present, who would it be and why?
VERONICA: I had a chance to meet (the late) Ronnie James Dio. He was my largest influence. His energy was so amazing. It would have been fun to sit down and pick his brain and mindset as he wrote songs. I like knowing what inspired certain people, to find out what that flame is that ignited such incredible music to be written.
VERONICA: It’s been so great for Pete to finally receive some love from the fans and press. I feel he’s done his very best work on this new album. Pete is a lot of fun and a joy to be around. I get along with him so much! So many people never knew about us, now a whole new wave of people are starting to build around following our band. People are really checking out our first two albums.
HRH: How and when did you become friends with Craig Goldy?
VERONICA: I’ve known Craig forever. Way back in the day we became fast friends, we just started to hang out. It’s fun to be friends with someone as dedicated to the guitar as Craig is. We both have a saying, that we always liked to dream out loud together. We’ve always kept in contact no matter what.
HRH: You can ride a motorcycle, have you ever been to Orange County Choppers up in New York State?
VERONICA: No, I have not. I would love to go there though. I have my two web based businesses that are motorcycle related. They both involve selling motor and sport bike accessories. Fans and bike enthusiasts can visit Alienhelmets.com and Streetfightersinc.com. Because of my online bike accessory businesses, I can stay home and wear my fuzzy slippers! (laughs) I’ve got a pair of bear claw slippers too! (laughs)
HRH: (laughs) Okay, that sounds like a cool gig!
HRH: Any tour plans or festivals being planned for 2011?
VERONICA: I certainly hope so. I’m waiting for my booking agent. We would love to play the U.S. and love to play Europe.
HRH: If you had an infomercial airing at midnight, to sell “Dominion”, what would your power pitch be for this album?
VERONICA: Wait There’s more! For only nine ninety five, you too could have Classic Rock with a melodic and Progressive Metal twist!
HRH: Well done, Veronica! I’m buying!