Going by the name of 'The V' there's an instant flashback to the 90's TV show and fond memories of hot aliens but instead this the debut solo album from Benedictum lead chanter Veronica Freeman.
Featuring such luminaries from the world of metal including Pete Wells, Aric Avina and Rikard Stjernquist of BENEDICTUM, 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), John Herrera, Ryan Greene, Kenny Lewis, Meliesa McDonell, Michael Harris, Mel Brown and John O'Boyle this promised to be something pretty special.
So, armed with a picture of 'The V' on the laptop as inspiration we dive in.
The first thing to note on this album is obviously Veronica's distinctive voice. Think Dale Krantz (Rossington/Collins band) on steroids and thats probably right on the money. A bit more soulfull in places on this album than on her Benedictum work which is very much welcomed.
Album opener 'Again' is a strong rockin' start to the album but second track 'Now or Never' with its slightly Led Zep opening is an absolute belter. A guitar line that continues throughout the song with vocals layered over it is fantastic. It erupts into a blazing solo before seeking refuge behind the vocals again.
'Rollercoaster' is another flat out rocker with a Def Leppard sounding riff and great vocals again by The V.
'L.O.V.E' is a modern day song about, err, love! Lyrically it's very contemporary but is firmly in the 80's anthemic ballad mode. Bit different in style from the openers but still a good song highlighted by the layered vocal harmonies.
Following the classic eighties rock formula of big hook filled songs with sing-a-long choruses comes 'Line in the Sand'. A mid tempo number that hits the mark.
The darker sounding 'Love Should be to Blame' showcases Freemans' different vocal approach on this album. The vocal being more subdued and suitable to the subject matter. Great song.
'Kiss my Lips', the duet with Leather Leone, just oozes sexuality and almost sounds like an order. And orders should be obeyed!!
Another hard rock song with a great groove to it is 'Spellbound'. Maybe not quite as good as what went before it but its a personal taste thing and is certainly not a song to skip over.
Track 9, 'Starshine', is the most easy going, commercial song on the album. Probably aimed at classic rock radio play where it should get some decent rotation.
'Below Zero' rocks things up a bit again and Develops into a nice riffy number.
Just when you think the album might be dying off a bit along comes 'Ready To Run'. An up tempo song with a driving rhythm section which is a real 80's throwback.
'Now or Never' finishes with the heavy, moody 'King for a Day' featuring Tony Martin. Given Martin's past outings with Iommi et al it has, as expected a definite Sabbath feel to it; this may be the best song on the album and has some blistering guitar work on it, as well as a very good turn by Martin.
All in all this is a classic hard rock album and if you love the 80's vibe being given a new lease of life then this album is a must buy.
Given the number of guest appearances on this it's only fair we list the "Now Or Never" recording lineup:
* Veronica Freeman - Lead vocals
* Leather Leone - Duet vocals on "Kiss My Lips"
* Tony Martin - Duet vocals on "King For A Day"
* Meliesa McDonell - additional vocals on "Star Shine" and acoustic guitar
* Derek Kerswill - drums
* Jeff Pilson, Mel Brown, Garry Bordonaro, Aric Avina, John O'Boyle and Mike LePond - Bass
* Pete Wells, Michael Sweet, Peter Tentindo, Jim Durkin, Mick Tucker, Jordan Ziff, Michael Harris - Guitar
"Now Or Never" was produced by John Herrera except for the song "King For A Day", which was produced by Kenny Lewis, and "Love Should Be To Blame" and "Again", which were produced by Michael Sweet.
Review by Andy Gillen