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Veronica “The V” Freeman - Now or Never

 Veronica “The V” Freeman - CD Review
Now or Never

Now Or Never



CD Info
Genre: Melodic hard rock
Label: Frontiers
Language: English
Total tracks: 12
Total time: 48:22
Rating: 10 of 10


My initial introduction to Veronica Freeman as a vocalist first came by way of another band: A Sound of Thunder, a band most of my regular readers know that I have been quite fond of since early 2013. While Nina’s voice is certainly one to be reckoned with, hearing Veronica on the alternate version of “Queen of Hell” was something else entirely. Not only could she go toe-to-toe with Nina, but she had an aggressive, brutal style all her own that hearkened to earlier female metal vocalists like Ann Boleyn and Leather Leone. Then, later on that year, I became more familiar with her own band, Benedictum, when I got the chance to review their album, Obey. Benedictum was just as powerful and heavy as I would expect a band with a vocalist like V. to be in.

I also heard about Veronica’s intent to make a solo album that same year too, when I interviewed Leather Leone for Sonic Cathedral at around the same time, and she spoke of her respect and love for V. and how excited she was for people to hear this solo material, deeming it like nothing she had ever done before. But it would be a while yet before any of us would get to hear it, as great work takes time; and because V., like many other artists these days, needed a little help from her friends (and her fans) to get this project off the ground. Enlisting the services of Kickstarter, V. embarked on a successful campaign that met her goal above and beyond, and gave her the means she needed to finish the long-awaited solo album that her fans longed to hear.

The final product, Now or Never, showcases V’s powerhouse voice, but there is also a cavalcade of guest stars that read like a “who’s who” of the metal community: Michael Sweet from Stryper,, fellow Benedictum guitarist Pete Wells, Leather Leone from Chastain, and former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin, just to name a few. While this was more of a hard rock effort than the metal style that people were used to hearing from her with Benedictum, it was clear that V’s vocal bad-assery was not taking a backseat and that, for her, going in a mellower direction did not mean she was getting soft.

“Again”: A killer opening tune; chock-full of great guitar riffs and equally fantastic vocals from V. This is definitely not her more assertive Benedictum-style delivery, but it doesn’t skimp on the ass-kicking, either! It’s a perfect combination of straight-up rock aggression coupled with soulful melody. If this hasn’t already been chosen as the first single, it should be!

“Now or Never”: Some more tasty guitar licks open up the title track of the album; V’s vocal delivery here sounds almost like she is arguing with herself. The chorus is easy to remember and catchy as hell; something to encourage a lot of fist-pumping and headbanging in a live setting.

“Roller Coaster”: This song starts off kicking your ass and just keeps going! V. shows off her vocal prowess here, proving that she’s one of the biggest voices in rock and metal today. Her voice and the guitar solo on this track really just cut loose, and the pounding drums make you want to bang your head with zero fucks given. For a song that’s a little less than 3 minutes, it packs in a lot with a heavy punch. V. really dishes it out on the final line: “Such a bad boy…but I’m a bad girl!”

“L.O.V.E.”: The drumming at the start of this song sets the tone for this hooky tune. The verses and chorus are both done in that sing-song style that, if it didn’t have heavy guitar riffs and V’s giant voice, it almost could be considered a pop song. I say this speaking as a child of the ‘80s, when “pop” was not a curse word; when popular music actually had substance, quality, and sincerity. This song definitely has that same sort of sensibility; it’s melodic, it’s catchy, and it rocks.

“Line in the Sand”: Speaking of songs that hearken back to the ‘80s, this is another tune that is reminiscent to me of melodic ‘80s hard rock; like V. took all the poppy hooks from bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, left out the Aqua Net and spandex, and crafted this piece of harmonic goodness.

“Love Should be to Blame”: V. keeps the soulful harmonies going on this mid-tempo rocker. Vocally, you hear a side to her you don’t really hear much within the boundaries of Benedictum: V. is not only a larger-than-life powerhouse vocalist that can melt your face off with the strength of her voice, but she can also turn around and use that intensity in a very sweet and almost vulnerable way. This is no sappy love ballad by any means, but this track showcases the pure beauty of V’s vocal range, and resonates with emotion and passion. This one is a favorite.

“Kiss my Lips”: Here we go, a duet with Leather Leone! Not only can you hear the similarities between the two voices, but it’s like a 3-and-a-half-minute contest of how much bad-assery can be fit into one song. When either of these two sing anything, it commands attention from the listener; so when the both of them come together on this down-and-dirty track, they are gonna grab you by the figurative balls, and sink their claws in deep until the ride is over. This mighty joining of forces between Leather and V. was the first time I was informed of V’s solo album, so it was obviously the one track I had been looking forward to for the longest time, and they did not disappoint! This track probably ties with the previous one as my favorite.

“Spellbound”: Another song that combines the heavy with the melodic, it’s a standout track in that it shares all the same components as the others, but there is something a little different that I can’t quite put my finger on. Something almost gothic about it, I want to say; but I’m not sure if that’s the right phrase either. You get to hear more of V’s “clean” vocals, which I really like.

“Starshine”: More pure, clean vocals from V. on this track, and vocalist Melissa McDonnell joins in to provide some of those high, angelic vocals that complement V. quite well. “I want to be the one you always call, starshine…and when you cry, I want to wipe your tears away”; if those lyrics came from a more lightweight voice, it might almost sound whiny or needy, but V. flips the script and uses her voice to convey those same lyrics with confidence and self-assurance.

“Below Zero”: A fast-paced rocker, the rhythm sets the tone for the urgency in the lyrics, which speak of a personal matter of watching a loved one fight for their life. You can hear the worry and anguish in V’s voice, and the guitar riffs wail, sounding dark and ominous, but also uplifting and hopeful. V. vocalizes between these two polarizing emotions of someone watching the end and refusing to believe it, but also holding on to the small chance that things can always turn around.

“Ready to Run”: While this album has not let up on the heaviness, this is probably the closest you will get to a “traditional” metal song. I hear traces of Dio’s “I Speed at Night”, to best describe the sound of this churning, driving, up-tempo killer track. I can see a lot of V’s fans particularly enjoying this song.

“King for a Day”: The final song, it’s a fitting closer, as Tony Martin reunites with V. on this slow, groove-laden heavy duet. Lyrically, Tony and V. take turns telling the story of a guy who has always been down on his luck, until the love of a very special someone turned it all around, even if only for one day. But this is V. we’re talking about, so this is no sappy romance ballad! Tony and V. are both keeping it heavy even when they sing to each other about love lost. They sound so great together; their voices fit each other so well. Throw in a blistering guitar solo among all of this, and you’ve got yourself an incredible finale to an electrifying album.

Overall opinion: I gave this album a perfect 10 because quite frankly, it’s one of those albums where I did not skip over any tracks or find any “filler” whatsoever. This album is, from beginning to end, filled with tunes that are heavy, melodic, catchy, memorable, and just plain good. Above all, this album was intended to showcase V’s vocal ability outside of Benedictum, and I think that Now or Never lived up to that and then some. I was continuously impressed by the way V. can go from her standard “rocker chick” aggressive voice, and then shift completely to these gorgeous, resonant tones that are soulful, evocative, and passionate; neither of which compromises the other. There are songs on this album about your standard “girl meets boy, girl loses boy” stories, but they do not come off as cheesy or clichéd when V. sings them. There is a sincerity to this album that, if you have ever had the chance to meet V. or get to know her as a person, you can feel throughout each song. Perhaps that is why these lyrics that, if done by some auto-tuned pop princess would sound forced and phony, V. makes them real and honest. You can feel that she has lived these words. Now or Never ranges from heavy-hitting hard rock to pop-laden acoustic jams to gritty traditional metal, and none of it sounds out of place among the others. It shows V’s diversity not just as a vocalist or as a musician, but as a music fan as well. It’s often a common misnomer among music fans that somehow musicians cannot appreciate other styles of music, or that we should somehow be offended whenever one of our favorite bands or artists ventures out into musical territories that are different than what they are known for. However, musicians are people too, and just as we could not eat ice cream every day no matter how much we loved it, so then do musicians wish to “think outside the box” every now and then and pay tribute to the other styles of music that they also love. After all, any musician who wishes to evolve does not just stay in the same lane; any true musician is always looking to broaden their horizons and try new things. While this project is not a complete 180-degree turn for V., it is something different than her fans have become used to hearing from her. They will be pleasantly surprised to hear that she is not only capable of belting it out and screaming with the best of them, but that she can also bring you to your knees with her cleaner vocals that are no less lacking in power and aplomb. This album is a winner and is unquestionably going to be on my list of top albums in 2015. Give it a listen and maybe it will be the same for you as well.


Special thanks to Frontiers Records Extra-special thanks to Veronica Freeman
For more information about Veronica “The V” Freeman, visit her official website.