Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Album Review: The V - Now Or Never

When singers step outside of their main bands, the results can often tell you a lot about who they are as people. Every band dynamic is different, and there are plenty of them out there where, despite the appearances, the singer is more or less along for the ride. So in order to get their own musical tastes across, they have to venture out and make a solo record. At other times, solo records are just ways of making more music when a band isn't being highly productive, and sometimes they're just an excuse to work with people who wouldn't be right collaborating with the main band. There are plenty of examples of all of these, and as you would expect, they vary wildly in quality.

The V finds Benedictum singer Veronica Freeman stepping out from her band, and taking the reigns on a more hard rock oriented record that has a few special guests along for the ride. I'll preface the rest of this review by saying that I'm not very familiar with Benedictum's work, so there will be no comparing of this record to what Veronica has made her name singing.

"Again" opens the record not in a full-throated hard rock way, but with tinges of Dio-era metal seeping into the guitar lines. The chugging guitars in the verses give you something to bang your head to, and then the chorus comes along with the hard rock flavor I was waiting for. Veronica's melody is simple, but it pares perfectly with her vocal power, and draws you right in.

That feeling doesn't last long, as the next couple of tracks dig too much into the bag of cliches, coming away with songs that are a couple of riffs and not much from the vocals. For a record branded as a singer's, the approach is misguided. Veronica gets buried with tepid melodies that don't do anything to showcase her talents. It could be forgivable, I suppose, if the guitar playing was sharp enough, but the riffs are the competent variety that aren't going to last with you long after the record is over.

"Line In The Sand" puts us back on solid footing, with just enough bounce and a chorus that puts Veronica back in the spotlight. The song feels to me, as I'm listening, to be something that could have been on the excellent Revolution Saints record from earlier this year. Songs like this one show that Veronica's big voice can be great for hard rock, if she's given the right material to sing.

An example of that is "Love Should Be To Blame", which takes a more dramatic turn, and gives Veronica's voice the ability to pack an emotional heft. It could be considered a ballad, I suppose, but that term doesn't always get used properly. And after a nearly perfect song, we get treated to "Kiss My Lips", which is an unfortunate mess of double entendres and needless come-ons that sound far more desperate than they do sexy. These sorts of songs never work, and I don't really know why artists keep slumming it through such awful messages. And then the record goes and redeems itself with "Starshine", which is a beautiful little example of how to properly do pop-oriented rock. It's sweet, bright, and its sunny outlook is a perfect addition to the record.

Overall, while I'm sure that "Now Or Never" was an important record for Veronica to make, it shows that albums that are pulled together from so many sources rarely feel like complete albums. The record is inconsistent, both in terms of the quality of the songs, and with the sound they're going for. It is clearly a solo record, because it wants to do a little bit of everything. There's enough good stuff here to make it an interesting record to listen to, but there isn't enough to make it stand up as an important record. But for fans of Veronica's voice, it's worth checking out.

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