Veronica Freeman is better known as the front woman of traditional metal band Benedictum which is why this release caught my eye. Benedictum are playing on the Friday of this year’s Wildfire Festival (July 26 – 28) so we may well follow this review up with an interview!
“The V” is Veronica’s nickname, and taking that as the moniker for her new album has allowed her to sidestep into new territory. Whereas Benedictum are fairly heavy, The V is more of a hard rock album with melodic overtones. Assisting with the music are Pete, Aric and Rikard of Benedictum and a host of guests. Screw it, here comes the copy and paste…
- Michael Sweet (STRYPER)
- Garry Bordonaro (THE RODS)
- Jeff Pilson (DOKKEN, FOREIGNER)
- Mike Lepond (SYMPHONY X)
- Tony Martin (BLACK SABBATH)
- Leather Leone (CHASTAIN)
- Jerry Dixon (WARRANT)
- Jimmy Durkin (DARK ANGEL)
- Mick Tucker (TANK)
- Jordan Ziff (AGE OF EVIL)
- Derek Kerswill (UNEARTH, KINGDOM OF SORROW)
- Peter Tentindo (VENUS MARS PROJECT)
- John Herrera
- Ryan Greene
- Kenny Lewis
- Meliesa McDonell
- Michael Harris
- Mel Brown
- John O’Boyle
So, wow. As research, I’ve forced (as if) myself to listen to some Benedictum to get a feel for Veronica’s – in fact, Benedictum’s entire line-up’s – regular style. They’re a good band. Hard, heavy and with some great tunes. I’m glad to say that The V is equally good, but recognisably different. This isn’t “Benedictum Lite”, it’s very much a new sound in its own right.
Veronica’s voice is still fairly distinctive with a slight rasp, but the style is slower and… I hesitate to use the word “sexy”, but certainly opener “Again” is a song you could make love to. As opposed to Benedictum’s “Scream” which is more for those nights when you’re really in the mood to let off some steam with a room full of whips, chains and very willing partner.
I know I’ve focussed on “The V” herself – the album’s got her name on the front – but the rest of her usual bandmates are every bit as good. Reigning in the metal to belt out some truly heavy rock numbers, they’re every bit as important to the mix as the vocals. There are some great riffs in here, and the rhythms are tight.
Title track “Now or Never” brought back memories of KISS’ “Domino” for some reason, but that’d hardly a bad thing. “Roller Coaster” sounds a bit more Poison. “Starshine”… hell, Starshine sounds like The V.
That’s the beauty of this album. It’s obviously taken a lot of influence from a wealth of classic hard rock artists. In that sense, it’s nothing new… but why fix what isn’t broken? You polish it, bring out the shine and add a new bit here and there to compliment it. And that’s what The V have done with this release. “Now or Never” is a rock (b’dum) solid album of great music. There are some wonderful singalong choruses and catchy little hooks that will stick in your head once you’ve been through the album a couple of times. It also has that typical 90’s rock album pattern with the heavier songs complemented by a ballad or two.
Pick of the tracks are – for me – “Again” and “Starshine”. They’re polar opposites in terms of style and sum up the diversity of this release.
[CONFESSION – I got Veronica’s name wrong throughout the initial posting of this review, which she ribbed me about mercilessly when I interviewed her shortly afterwards. All I can say is “sorry”, but it doesn’t stop this being a great album that deserved this positive review!]