Review Summary: Somebody needs to remind Benedictum that the 1980's are over.
There's no doubt about it. If Benedictum would have released their debut album, Uncreation
, twenty-five years ago it would have been huge. The album harkened back to the time period in which Black Sabbath Judas Priest and Motorhead were the bands of choice for metalheads, and the "Heaven and Hell" cover was particularly impressive. Modern production aside, however, Uncreation
felt incredibly dated, and failed to sound like anything other than an 80's metal tribute album. Unfortunately, Seasons of Tragedy
is hasn't quite rectified this problem, but it isn't a bad record by any means.
Admittedly, a lot of Benedictum's hype isn't actually generated through the group's 80's metal leanings. Much has been made over frontwoman Veronica Freeman, and while I'm not exactly sure whether it's just because she's a chick in a metal band or because of her almost frightening Dio-meets-Halford-esque singing style (though probably the former!), she's definitely the band's centrepiece. Freemen's aggressive vocal delivery ranges from gritty shouts to raspy one-liners and high screams, and to be honest, if you didn't know it was a woman behind the mic, you probably wouldn't be able to tell. While her vocal style isn't original by any means, Freemen sets the tone for every song on the album (sans the eleven minute title track). The power-ballad "Steel Rain" is the only song where Freemen changes things up, leaving out the testosterone filled aggression in favour of a more operatic approach.
Much like Freemen, the rest of Benedictum is good at what they do. Guitarist Pete Wells lays down heavy, overdriven riffs, particularly effective in the likes of "Shell Shocker" and "Legacy". Bassist Jesse Wright is inaudible and drummer Paul Courtois lays down some solid fills. This isn't what Benedictum's problem is. Seasons of Tragedy
's main flaw is its predictability and stagnancy. Much like the traditional 80's metal which precedes it, the album is incredibly formulaic. Seasons of Tragedy
features nine soaring metal anthems, a power ballad (the aforementioned "Steel Rain") and an eleven minute epic. What's more, the first nine tracks all recycle the same ideas. Nothing differentiates "Shell Shocker" from "Beast in the Field" and "Nobodies Victim". Hell, even the Accept cover "Balls to the Wall" sounds identical to everything else. Maybe it would have made for a better listen if it was shorter (Seasons of Tragedy
is nearly an hour long), but the album is so conventional and boring that it just isn't very much fun to listen to.
Essentially, Benedictum is simply regurgitating twenty-five year old metal, only without putting their own stamp on it, as a band like Machine Men does. If you wear denim jackets, enjoy riding motorcycles down highways for no real reason, and think all music post-1984 is garbage, than sure, Seasons of Tragedy
might be something you'll want to look into. But for the rest of us, it's a nice novelty but ultimately doesn't get the job done.