Courage arrives in different forms. It doesn’t necessarily arrive as a swashbuckling pirate battling 40 soldiers, or simply a solitary knight in combat with a dragon that is 100 times bigger than they are. Courage can be so evident within the confines of a conversation. During the conversation that takes place with Veronica Freeman, lead vocalist of the mighty Benedictum, there is talk about the band but also the emotional investment that runs throughout the music. Putting the heart and the feelings out there for fans to identify and to embrace the cathartic qualities the music has to share.
With a new album comes the promotion, and Benedictum are no different. Buzzing over the release of their fourth studio album Obey which has many great examples of pure heavy metal; whether you like your metal to be fast and furious, or whether you like it heavy with melody weaving throughout. So wrestling the flu and glowing with positive energy, Freeman has a lot to say about the new album and about the band that she has fronted for around eight years. With the creative partner and guitarist Pete Wells providing the appropriate chemistry, musical sparks fly as thunderous moments like the title track, Fighting for My Life and Apex Nation assault the ears with razor-sharp riffs and respectful intent.
The band really found their direction and grabbed some momentum thanks to Craig Goldy, a friend of Freeman in the early days of Benedictum. Goldy is known for his guitar contributions on Dio albums like Dream Evil and Master of the Moon, appearing on the David Lee Roth solo album A Little Ain’t Enough and being involved with the 1984 self-titled album by Guiffria. He believed that Freeman could really do justice as the front-person of a band, although according to the lady herself, she was looking in to creative writing or dancing at the time. Now after those humble beginnings, Benedictum are the proud parents of three studio offerings in the shape of Uncreation, Seasons of Tragedy and Dominion.
Talking to the mighty “V” about the band and their music brings about plenty of energy, laughter and insight. When asked about a specific song on the latest album Obey, Freeman had lots to share regarding the thought process behind the lyrics. “To throw it all out there because you know, I don’t know, you ever have the chance to go round again in life so; you know I get very depressed sometimes and all that kind of stuff so its, I appreciate the good times in life the best that I can but I know that I just have such an awareness that, indeed life is so very fleeting and I often spend many nights wondering. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I know it’s probably not that normal but I wonder what does lie beyond, you know, from all the different beliefs, especially for me having gone to Catholic school.” The voice of Freeman is fragile like it’s made of glass, and the cracks motivated by a sore throat that continue to be prominent carry a genuine sincerity. Pausing with her flow of thought she exclaims how she has never really spoken about these things before like this, and juggles briefly with the notion of continuing.
“You know, I had the whole uniform and my Oxford shoes for many years and it’s just like, have this particular belief. And then I went through different phases in my life of you know always that question of what happens when you die and then, even being so depressed sometimes in my life that I thought about do I want to end this? You know, I was so miserable and all that kind of stuff and I’m like you know, at the end of the day there’s so much to be said for just being able to take that next breath. So I try to maintain a gratitude for that.” Freeman is following the momentum of her thoughts and continues with an evident conclusion to her tone.
“I lost my Mom this year; I lost two close friends this year and; three, gosh, now that I think about it. I just often wonder when that moment comes, what does really happen or does anything happen? Do the actions that we take in this particular realm, do they really have an effect or is it just that we can’t see it? You know a lot of times, karma, really? Because I see so many good people so many bad things happening to them, and so many people who are absolutely dastardly that seem to always get the breaks you know what I mean? And I just wonder in my limited wisdom, but these things I do wonder about, and that song is actually really supposed to be about somebody who passed but is not quite aware of that yet, and coming in to that great realisation that oh fuck I’m dead, now what?!”
This thread of thought Freeman is expressing stemmed from a comment about how good the track Crossing Over is, one of many highlights on Obey. Closing this stream of philosophy and reflection, she rounds off her explanation of Crossing Over by saying, “Do I want to go out basically dancing out of my body or do I want to be clinging to the sheets you know holding on, to that last breath of life? I don’t know.” With that, she takes a moment to collect herself before we get back to discussing Obey.
Another notable moment on this new album arrives in the shape of Cry which features the inclusion of Tony Martin. He is the voice that can be heard on five Black Sabbath albums which include the mighty Headless Cross and songs like Feels Good to Me and The Sabbath Stones. With his style of vocal delivery, it fits like a glove on the collaboration alongside Freeman. “I have always been a gushing fan and you know, god bless Facebook. I reached out to him a while back.”
The bubbly personality shining bright, Freeman elaborates further about the initial contact with Martin. “As things developed with the album I was like sure, wouldn’t this be kind of fun. So I contacted him and said do you even do stuff like that? Would you be willing to?” With some clarification, she then shared his response. “He was very selective though, it wasn’t like you know yeah I’ll do it, this is what I want. It was like, well, I need to hear what you have in mind first before I commit to anything.” She still sounds very proud with what was achieved. “So I submitted a couple of songs. Originally I had wanted him to be on Retrograde because I just thought that would be really cool, but he chose Cry and that’s what ended up happening. He was really, really helpful with ideas and stuff like that so it worked out really well.”
There are many sides to the lead vocalist of Benedictum, but the one that glows the most during the conversation is the deeply emotional individual who loves to think and to understand life better. So what exactly does the band Benedictum mean to Freeman within the scheme of things? “This is what it’s all about for me, at the end of the day, when someone said they got in to a car accident and they didn’t think they’d be, and they were told they couldn’t run again and all this stuff; and they put on their headphones and they had their iPod going on and they’re listening to Benedictum and that music got them through their physical therapy, and the next thing you know they’re running miles and thank you so much, and I’m like wow.” Freeman then follows this example with another. “When someone emails me and says that their autistic child knows every single lyric from Seasons of Tragedy perfectly, that blows me away.”
Then another example; “I met someone the other day after going to someone else’s show and there’s a record store that I go in to, I mean, I don’t still see myself that way because I’m struggling like everybody else, but, it just blew me away this girl just started crying. Are you Veronica from Benedictum? I mean in tears, and I was like I wasn’t sure if I should say yes.” This brings about a brief outburst of giggles and then we’re back on track. “But then she was just like oh you’ve really inspired me, and I was like Inspired you to what? She’s like Just to be strong, that kind of means something.”
If you’re look for a band that holds the true values of heavy metal close to their proverbial bosom whilst also carrying the torch for lyrical substance in and amongst the attitude, then check out the world of Benedictum who are most certainly in the zone. “When someone tells me that you gave me goose bumps, then I’ve got you!” Bring on the goose bumps.
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