Former Malady members who decided to ditch the bad habit of playing in cover bands and create their own compositions formed San Diego-based Benedictum. The group lead by Veronica Freeman and Pete Wells recruited former Freeman band-mate Blackie Sanchez, Cage stand-in bassist Wright and Chris Morgan and went through a couple of names before settling on the Benedictum name based on advice from management.
Freeman’s acquaintance with former Dio guitarist Craig Goldy leads to Jeff Pilson taking over the band’s demo production and bass position. Very soon Locomotive Records stepped in and issued the band’s album.
An appearance at Italy’s Gods Of Metal festival followed before musical differences lead to the departure of Blackie Sanchez who was replaced by Paul Courtois. A tour with Doro was arranged for late 2006. Seasons Of Tragedy was issued in January of 2008. Former drummer Blackie Sanchez was guesting on the stool during the band’s opening slot on Girlschool’s European tour in October. Paul Courtois was not able to drum due to “personal obligations.”
Vocalist Veronica Freeman of Benedictum was doing session work for the Lyraka project. Lyraka was described as a "Wagnerian Opera Metal" project that encompassed a set of highlights CDs, as well as a 3-D animated movie. Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz) and Tommy Heart (Uli Jon Roth, Fair Warning, Soul Doctor) were also contributing vocal tracks. Andy DiGelsomina was the composer and lead guitarist of the project. The first CD was expected in March of 2011.
Frontiers Records picked up Benedictum and would release the band’s next album in early 2011. The band was recording the album with producer Ryan Greene. Frontiers Records announced February 18th as the release date for Benedictum's third full-length album, which was called Dominion. Female fronted bands Benedictum and Desdemon teamed up for the Path Of The Valkyries U.S. tour in November of 2011 to promote their recent studio releases. In 2012, Banshee replaced Benedictum on the Warriors Of Metal Fest Roster. According to Benedictum’s frontwoman the band wanted to keep its schedule open to work on its album. Veronica Freeman, was working on a 2013 solo album. The band itself was also writing new material.
BENEDICTUM – UNCREATION – LOCOMOTIVE
Benedictum might sound like a name for a death metal band, which this band is not, but more importantly surely this writer is not the only person who went through half of Uncreation before he realized that there is a woman behind the microphone here. Such is the voice of Veronica Freeman who, along with several other members operated in various Dio and Black Sabbath cover bands, and probably did a very credible job. She has a great voice, but would anyone notice her gender on tape? It is not until track number ten, Valkyrie Rising, that she alters her vocals in order to sing in a feminine tone.
Disliking Benedictum right off the bat is neither difficult nor unforeseen. The band lists a keyboardist – and heavy metal fans know where that slippery slope is going – while the ex-cover band members have included not one, but two Black Sabbath cover versions on their debut release. Both songs Heaven And Hell and The Mob Rules are on the disc and make one wonder who directs the group’s thought process? Moreover, involved with the band and album are names like Craig Goldy, Jimmy Bain and Jeff Pilson. No, seriously. Dio, eat your heart out!
One might have a hard time taking the whole schebang seriously, but with Uncreation the band has somehow snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and produced a good listen. Freeman’s vocals are capable, mixed higher than everything else and occasionally amazing as on the aforementioned Valkyrie Rising, the melodic Misogyny or the powerful Wicca. Speaking of those titles listen for some interesting and startling lyrics from the mouth of Veronica. While some subjects are historically interesting, others are ‘ballsy,’ shall we say?
The synthesizer can occasionally be heard as on the Rainbow-esque Misogyny or the aforementioned nine-minute long Valkyrie Rising, which begins like a Dream Theater opus, but god of metal hath mercy the damn thing is kept in the background and in check most of the time. Wicca is a great song, Ashes To Ashes is hard, Them – with its zany lyrics - is a fast cut which is not a King Diamond cover. The guitarist knows how to solo and should do more based on his performance here. His work on Valkyrie Rising is pure George Lynch.
Benedictum clearly has a future, but it either needs a or should change its management and business decision-making process. A band that wants to establish a career does not start with cover versions or tying its fame and reputation to a group of musicians, but rather builds an independent base. Having said that, Benedictum is heavy metal and the world needs more of that, so fans of Dio, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Warrior, Dokken and Saxon should pick up on these Americans. – Ali “The Metallian”