Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Oct. 18
Sound description: Progressive heavy metal.
RIYL: Rainbow, the Iron Maidens, Dio, Rough Cutt, Savatage
- Blurt: "Gods Need Their Space" · July 6, 2006
Inception: San Diego, 2000
Current Status: Playing, touring, and recording.
Influences: Ronnie James Dio, Rainbow, Savatage, Warrior, Rough Cutt, Led Zeppelin, Psychotic Waltz, Girlschool, the Iron Maidens, Lita Ford, Vixxen
Benedictum was originally called Bound. Under that name, they recorded a three-track demo. After changing their name, they recorded another three-track demo with Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Dio).
Benedictum's stylish, epic brand of metal delivers on all fronts: awesome riffing, fierce rhythms, strong melodies, shredding leads, and delicate textures converge at the crossroads of tradition and 21st-century innovation, topped off by what is truly one of the most extraordinary voices in rock.
Vocalist Veronica Freeman and guitarist Pete Wells, the band's tandem driving force, have put in plenty of time slugging it out in the trenches perfecting their chemistry. "Pete and I have known each other for over ten years," says Freeman. "We were both in a band called Malady for several years and when that came to an end we stayed together and started looking for an all new crew.
"We had always admired Blackie [Sanchez]'s style and those fast feet of his so we teamed up with him and formed the nucleus of the band. We also wanted a keyboard player and I had met Chris [Morgan] from being in a couple of Dio tribute bands. He added such great texture to the whole thing. We had a few tunes of our own but really wanted to see what would happen as we wrote together."
It was another San Diego scene alum, guitarist Craig Goldy of Dio fame, who encouraged the group to produce a demo with the promise to pass it on to some of his industry contacts. "Craig and I are old friends who just don’t get the chance to see each other very often but remain very close," relates Veronica. "He had a chance to come see me in San Diego and I played him some of our recordings from rehearsal and he freaked out."
The band went on to record an album with Jeff Pilson (ex-Dio, Dokken) manning the board. Then came an unexpected break -- an invitation to play Italy's massive Gods of Metal festival in June '06, with the newly reunited Guns N' Roses headlining!
“On the first days, each band had their own trailer with their name on it,” says Freeman of the backstage arrangements for festival acts like Def Leppard, Whitesnake, GN'R and others. “But when Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses showed up for headline day, they demanded three trailers and we all had to share with other bands. I think I was the only chick on the bill that day and I felt bad making all these band guys stand outside while I changed.”
Benedictum’s invitation had stemmed from their popularity in Europe, where Classic Rock UK magazine named them one of "15 Hot New Bands to Worship in 2006.” While overseas, the band slotted in some other dates around Europe.
“It was one disaster after another. Going to Italy, our Motif keyboard got lost [by the airline] and sent to Frankfurt Germany. All of our sound samples were in there and we had to wait on the tracking from the airlines…Our gig in Spain was cancelled, but I’d already used my credit card on nonrefundable flights for eight people. Then the Switzerland show got cancelled, and we kept getting charged for every kilogram overweight on our equipment and luggage. In London, we paid 675 euros, which is about $800 U.S., just to get our stuff in.”
Freeman says her German boyfriend came along, only to lose his wallet in a cab, leaving him without credit cards or ID. “I went with him to the consulate in Berlin to get his letter of transportation, taking this seven-hour train ride, which was beautiful but the schedule was already off the chain.” She says audiences were receptive everywhere they went, but “We sure learned a lot about how it works behind the scenes, or how it doesn’t work anyways.”
In summer 2010, the band recorded a new album with producer Ryan Greene (Megadeth, Lita Ford) at his Area 52 studio in Scottsdale, Arizona. The album features guest appearances by Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Dio) and Craig Goldy (Budgie). Singer Veronica Freeman also worked with Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson (ex-Dio, Dokken) to produce some acoustic bonus tracks for the album.
They spent most of November 2011 on the Path of the Valkyries tour with New York symphonic metal band DesDemon, including the all female-fronted band Flight of the Valkyries festival in Baltimore on November 19.
After a rare local gig March 31, 2012 at 710 Beach Club, they played the Warriors Of Metal V Fest on June 29 and 30 at the Frontier Ranch in Pataskala, Ohio.
In early 2013, bassist Jesse Wright was replaced by Aric Avina, who debuted on their next full-length recorded with producer John Herrera and songwriters Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner) and Craig Goldy (Dio).