WARD XVI – The Art Of Manipulation

Rock’N’Growl 2017

WARD XVI - The Art Of Manipulation

WARD XVI –
The Art Of Manipulation

Asylum symphony from English genre-benders of a metal disposition and proclivity for mental delight.

Black and white striping might mark this band’s visually striking front, but their first full-length album is full of color as befits a musical story about a female psycho possessed of rampant imagination. Rooted in hard rock, it’s a varied experience – gripping and dripping with gore and more – that has plenty of layers which create something sinister, something that’s much bigger, and scarier, than meets the eye.

With a spoken word introduction setting a dark theme for a few interludes to flesh out, and the folk-tinctured plaintive “Take My Hand” artfully hiding its rocksteady undercurrent before letting a frenetic riffola rule the game, a dancefloor-driven turn of the tide emerges rather unexpectedly, but heavy guitars happily yield to the infectious groove they underpin and help propel on “Cry Of The Siren” or “The Flight” for singer Psychoberrie to have a field day and unleash her sharp attack. Still, there’s a pervading sense of funfair frenzy on the album, as “Toybox” and “Crystal Ball” swirl in a kaleidoscopic fashion in front of the listener, while keyboards are augmented by accordion and vaudeville moves reign supreme – until twin axes soar high to take “Hold Me” from a vibrant ballad foundation to the brink of emotional abyss. A prog stratum may make “Adrenochromania” a wild adventure in itself, yet the rap-wrapping “Blackened Heart” is a streamlined scene-stealer – and that’s quite a feat for an album filled with twists and turns of the knife.

“The Art Of Manipulation” cuts it fine in all the right places without pandering to a single style’s demand. An impressive move across the board.

****

July 20, 2017

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