James Durbin may have been the “metal guy” during his season on American Idol, but it’s been an uphill battle for him to get any sort of street cred in the actual scene. His subsequent solo albums seemed noncommittal in terms of style and his brief stint singing for Quiet Riot felt more like an odd novelty than a real step forward. It’s hard to tell how the reception towards The Beast Awakens (Frontiers Records srl) will compare but at the very least, it’s a notable turning point on his path to Heavy Metal legitimacy.
After nearly two decades spent exclusively on the live circuit, Blue Oyster Cult returns with their fifteenth full-length album, The Symbol Remains (Frontiers Records Srl). In a way similar to the recent releases by fellow Seventies Rock legend Alice Cooper, the band opts for a kitchen sink songwriting method. The fourteen tracks play out like a career retrospective of sorts, exploring a variety of moods between classic-minded rockers, synth-heavy AOR numbers, and atmospheric occult excursions.
When it comes to modern bands who play with a distinctively vintage metal style, there are two distinct types. There are those who tap into that near magic and illusive quality that makes the early greats the inspirations they are, yet still sound fresh and of this age at the same time. Then there are the ones who sound simply dated and should have been put to bed long ago. California’s Benedictum certainly fall into the latter camp.
It is quite staggering that Benedictum have continued as long as they have, considering how cliché ridden their fourth album Obey (Frontiers Records) is. From the (attempted at least) tension building intro, through each individual song, Obey simply shows no originality of its own, nor does it fill you with any of the adrenaline that heavy metal should do. Each riff sounds tiresome, no song stands out above more than complete tedium, and as big as Veronica Freeman’s voice is, it doesn’t have that commanding quality or unbridled sense of emotion that such a presence should have by any means.
Obey sounds embarrassingly outdated and ancient, in a way that really shouldn’t exist in this day and age. Seriously the likes of Grand Magus and Triaxis have taken from such classic heavy metal periods yet have still sounded timeless and relevant; Benedictum just sound like they are from a time forgotten. Obey, quite simply, is a lifeless album that should be buried with the dinosaurs.