Release Date: 29th November 2013
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
Sounding like the female answer to Phil Anselmo, Veronica Freeman really demands some respect as she sings like her life depends on it.
This is the band's fourth studio album and has a few surprises up its sleeves. Of course it's Metal through and through and you can predict that the guitars are as sharp as razors, but with the guiding hand of Jeff Pilson in the Producer's seat and the acquisition of Jag Panzer drummer Rikard Stjernquist, this is quite an assault.
The only blemish for me personally whilst banging my head to 'Obey', is the annoyingly misguided first track. It isn't a proper song, merely a cool intro which segues in to the first track 'Fractured'. With that grumble out of the way, the opening salvo of 'Fractured', the title track and 'Fighting For My Life' rape and pillage the senses with savage energy. Awesome is a word I attempt to avoid these days, but I'm throwing it out there as a result of loving these three tracks with their pounding delivery.
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The relentless intent doesn't stop there as 'Scream' stabs the ears with the cry of "Scream! - Shout!" before rumbling along like a tank again crushing bones beneath its tracks. There are subtle changes of gear which keep each of these first few tracks interesting, and this applies to 'Evil That We Do' which contains a groove that's familiar but doesn't detract from the enjoyment.
In contrast to the pace of what had flowed under the bridge to this point, seventh track 'Crossing Over' slows the tempo with a heavier feel. Oozing self-confidence and darkness during the opening verse, you know this is going to be epic and moody in tone. The chorus doesn't disappoint as 'Crossing Over' showcases a tasty guitar solo after Freeman states: "This is my own mortality..."
'Cry' fades into life and presents a power ballad soaked in atmosphere, and then as the second verse appears within earshot a guest appearance from Tony Martin greets us. It's a welcome break from the intense Metal-infused antics of the previous tracks and also celebrates the diversity of Benedictum.
Within the aftermath of 'Cry' the quality is slightly weaker on both 'Thornz' and 'Die To Love You' although both have their merits. An attempt to raise the bar doesn't quite work out as 'Apex Nation' comes across as fairly traditional and average as well. The album closer is called 'Retrograde' and provides an opportunity for the band to stretch their muscles.
Where some may say this is self-indulgent or elongated for the sake of it, I enjoy it when a band who present themselves as a Heavy Metal band bashing out reasonable length tracks let things go to share in their abilities once in a while. The bombardment of instrumentation is allowed a break during this opus, when some tranquil piano is given the chance to breathe.
'Obey' offers up some delicious Heavy Metal music for the majority with a few tracks unable to meet the high benchmark, but overall you won't be disappointed if you venture into the realms of a large-voiced female-fronted band that are pushing their way to new heights with this fourth album. It's like the equivalent of being kissed with lips made of metal studs.
1. Dream Of The Banshee
4. Fighting For My Life
6. Evil That We Do
7. Crossing Over
10. Die To Love You
11. Apex Nation
Veronica Freeman: Lead Vocals
Pete Wells: Guitars
Rikard Stjernquist: Drums
Aric Avina: Bass Guitar
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