Ward XVI – “The Art Of Manipulation” (Rock’N’Growl Records)
With influences diversely ranging from Alice Cooper to Iron Maiden, Diablo Swing Orchestra and Avatarium, Ward XVI is ‘Theatrical Avant-Garde Rock’ played by 6 escapees from Whittingham Asylum going by names like Psychoberrie, Dr. Von Stottenstein and Beardy McStumble (be he’s the bass player ha ha)! Jokes aside, Ward XVI was a real ward that existing in the aforementioned UK home where alleged abuse occurred of psychiatric patients and the music, which ambitiously blends theatrical rock to metal and electro goth, really is left field, especially with the accordion giving a real creepy circus feel to the sound. This 12 track debut is actually a concept album based on an introspective of a female psychopath locked away who had drugged and murdered her victim – pleasant stuff indeed which Psychoberrie’s suave femme vocals more than bring to light atmospherically on the likes of ‘Hold Me’. That said, this isn’t one of these depressive melancholic albums as there’s plenty of fire and energy especially on the faster material like ‘Run For Your Lives’ or the heavy power riffed ‘Adrenochromania’ accompanied by those creepy keyboards. On ‘Inner Demon’ there’s a dual roaring male vocal to accompany the serenity of Psychoberrie amid a tight, punchy rock beat that even strays into blastbeats while orchestrals at the edge add a classy goth element to the song! With a number of interludes well placed to break the material but not the continuing atmosphere, “The Art Of Manipulation” is a very ambitious release indeed but the musicianship allows the band to carry it off most of the time, and I would imagine that some of these songs like ‘Toy Box’ would go down a treat live. Definitely worth a listen to even if once, especially if you’re after something truly different to experience.