The V – “Now Or Never”


thev_nowornever Veronica “The V” Freeman is best known as the curvaceous lead singer of the American heavy metal band, Benedictum. Veronica and guitarist Pete Wells formed the band in 2005, which released ‘Uncreation’ (2006), ‘Seasons of Tragedy’ (2008), ‘Dominion’ (2011) and ‘Obey’ (2013). But this solo release sees her step away from metallic screaming and move to a more melodic hard rock style.

Veronica commented: “I had a lot of input and encouragement from Frontiers to try and stretch myself with different musical styles and approaches. It was great to be able to work with Pete Wells writing some of these songs too. So, it was a no-brainer to accept their proposal for a solo album. I am a bit nervous and beyond excited!”

There is an impressive guest list on this project. Besides her band mates in Bendictum, there is 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) and more besides.

Launching off with the heart-searching ‘Again’, which takes Veronica’s powerful vocals into rock goddess territory and melds them with a scorching hard rock sound tinged with metal, whilst incorporating a guitar-shredding solo. “I’m falling in love with you again / And I’m forgiving every single sin / I’ve opened up my heart to let you in / Cuz I’m falling in love with you again”. This was written and produced by Michael Sweet and is one of my personal favourites.

There is a groove feel as she takes on a torturous romantic liaison in ‘Now Or Never’ and falls head-over-heels into the hair metal inspired ‘Roller Coaster’. Then it is time for the melodic side to come fully to the fore in ‘L.O.V.E.’ and ‘Line In The Sand’. The balladic ‘Love Should Be To Blame’ is another Michael Sweet track, which leaves space for Veronica’s voice to soar. “Love should be two-sided; love deserves two lanes / That intersect and have collided / Sealing hearts with flames / Love should be to blame”.

Then you are grabbed by a sexually assertive duet with Leather Leone as they command you to ‘Kiss My Lips’. It has tons of attitude and makes you wonder what it would be like to be mauled by two alley cats as the claws are definitely out! Flippin’ heck!

‘Spellbound’ takes a contemplative look at the future and ‘Starshine’ lets loose with additional vocals by
Meliesa McDonell and melodies aplenty. The epic ‘Below Zero’ takes a heartfelt approach to the imminent loss of a loved one. It battles with being in denial when faced with the awful truth. This resonates so much as I watched my mother lose her battle with cancer. “She is close / The doctor says that there’s no time / Are you sure? Maybe she’ll survive / I need to know cuz I need her so!”

Another one of the heavier, metal tinged tracks is ‘Ready To Run’ as they open up to full throttle. “And I’m ready to run / I’ve got to leave it all behind / Now I’m under the gun / I’ve got to take back my life while there’s time”. Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) collaborated on one of the Benedictum tracks and appears again on the slow-paced heavyweight duet ‘King For A Day’.

I thoroughly enjoyed this album from start to finish. It was a delight to review as I wasn’t tempted to skip any of the tracks. I sincerely hope that this is not a one-off album and that there will be more to follow.

Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby

Rating: 9.5/10

Track listing:
01. Again
02. Now Or Never
03. Roller Coaster
04. L.O.V.E.
05. Line In The Sand
06. Love Should Be To Blame
07. Kiss My Lips
08. Spellbound
09. Starshine
10. Below Zero
11. Ready To Run
12. King For A Day

Veronica Freeman – Lead vocals
Leather Leone – Duet vocals “Kiss my Lips”
Tony Martin – Duet vocals “King for a Day”
Meliesa McDonell – additional vocals “Star Shine” & Acoustic guitars
Derek Kerswill – drums
Jeff Pilson, Mel Brown, Garry Bordonaro, Aric Avina, John O’Boyle & Mike Lepond – Bass
Pete Wells, Michael Sweet ,Peter Tentindo, Jimmy Durkin, Mick Tucker, Jordan Ziff, Michael Harris – Guitars

Produced by John Herrera
except for:
‘King for a Day’ (produced by Kenny Lewis)
‘Love Should be to Blame & Again’ (produced by Michael Sweet)

Record Label: Frontiers Records, July 2015

Weblinks: Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video below: ‘Line In The Sand’

Video below: ‘Again’

Video below: “Now or Never” (EPK)

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