Ward XVI- The Art of Manipulation

Release Date: 1st July 2017

Record Label: Rock N growl Records

Originating from Preston, Ward XVI is a six-piece who have come together bringing a diversity of influences.  Recently signing to Rock ’N’ Growl Records, the band played to a full house at Bloodstock after releasing  The Art Of Manipulation, the avant-garde rocker.

Ward XVI is based upon an infamous ward at Whittingham in which alleged abuse occurred upon psychiatric patients.
“The Art of Manipulation” is a concept album telling the introspective story of a female psychopath locked away in a high security asylum, who had previously drugged and manipulated a victim to murder for her pleasure prior to being caught.”

Maybe not one to the tell kids at bedtime tonight then. The album is kicked off by a 2 minute conversation between Psychoberrie and her psychiatrist which leads to her telling the story of her sordid tale. There are 4 interludes( including the intro) where Psychoberrie takes on the narrator role aiding her listeners to follow more fully her perverse tales.

The track ‘Take My Hand ‘ starts things off  melodically before violently smashing into a tornado of riffs and drumbeats depicting minds descending downwards into madness. It also descends down into the title track  which has a weirdly alluring disjointed ambience, with the guitars almost almost acting like an anesthetic ; like Psychoberrie was drugging you into submission.

‘The Flight’ takes over, kicking off as as classic rock but suddenly skips forwards a few decades by a march of eletronica which is utilised throughout the song but keeps the hard rock underlay.
Bridged by a brief interlude explaining a little more about her psychopathic antics, they deliver ‘Crystal Ball’ a throughly fantastic track with a musical background which reminds one of the circus courtesy of the accordion stylings of Min, who evidently has influences in Romani music,  before it steps up a gear with riffs by guitarists Lex Whittingham and Dr. Von Stottenstein but still keeps the circus feel. This is Psychoberrie’s best vocal performance on the album as she perfectly matches the musical background at each point, luring you even further into a web of criminal insanity. It’s a shame that at times she is sounded out a little by the accordian but it’s a great track and it’s no wonder this was picked as the single.

I am a bit of a sucker for a ballad and this is certainly no exception. It starts of with a slow, sad piano intro which perfectly captures the mood of the song and continues in not putting a foot wrong. I’m also amazed that Ward XVI, they’ve successfully taken on a number of musical styles and they still have more to give. Psychoberrrie again puts in an outstanding vocal performance which makes her seem so vulnerable, almost making you forget how evil she can be. I really hope Ward XVI write more in this style.

We move onto a 35 second interlude before moving swifly on again to ‘Blackened heart’. Arguably the most radio- friendly track with a pop-punk edge but better guitar solos.

‘Run for your Lives’ starts with police sirens, before moving into the accordion, which plays over the metal-tinged punk rock number. Psychoberrie implements more grit in her vocals whilst keeping with the rythm, helping to create the perfect atmosphere along with the introduction with backing male vocals.

Using the supposedly psychoactive oxidation of adrenaline,  ‘Adrenochromania’  acts as the description for the murder being sung over the dark power of Beardy McStumble bass and the psychotic zeal of the two guitars.
This rolls  into the lively electro rocker ‘Cry of the siren’ which cracks up the energy to 11. Before we head back to the Romani with ‘toybox’ and it’s oom-pah beat which gradually picks up pace.

We stop for the final interlude and the shortest one at just 28 seconds, where she reveals why she ‘had to’ turn into a killer. ‘Inner Demon’  explains it further where the lyricist tell us how ‘her demons have her now’ alongside the backing male vocalist who compliments Psychoberrie’s storytelling.

To round off the story, we hear more of the dreaded ward XVI, mentioned in the intro. Being led by the piano, Psychoberrie leads us down the ward to before erupting into a fast paced metal song , describing the horrors which patients face before being left to die alone. The song outro is led by the piano in which Psychoberrie sings of ‘her new home’.

This band is very special. They somehow bring together a massive pan of ideas and influences and manage to cook up a tasty and satisfying meal. It’s fantastically original, an attribute of which there is a distinct lack of in music currently. As well as this, it’s brilliantly written with all the musicians playing their part, has interludes in all the right places, has thrilling lyrics which would rival a Jeffery Deaver novel  and it’s perfectly made for the live arena.
Mark my words, this band is going somewhere. And, it’s not back to the asylum to be locked up.

Recommended tracks: Crystal ball, Hold me

Rating: 9/10

You can buy or download the album from http://www.wardxvi.com/

You can also check out our interview with Ward XVI here