Ward XVI – Unplugged And Sedated EP

Ward XVI – Unplugged And Sedated EP
Self-Released
Release Date: 24/11/2020
Running Time: 23:45
Review by Simon Black
9/10

So, the thing is, this record wasn’t supposed to happen. Many acts have had to take all that 2020 had to give without the benefit of lubrication (which many may not survive), but it’s a double kicker when you are a self-produced act on the verge of something special and desperately need to get out on the road to spread the word. Judging by the fact that in the intervening time since last year’s quite sublime “Metamorphosis” album, Ward XVI have managed to get that album on a whole bunch of Top 10 articles as the year burned out (including my own), not to mention cropping up on a couple of top track listings too. This all seems to tell me that I am worrying needlessly – and quite right to, as I firmly believe that this bunch have the potential to go the distance. They’ve come a long way since their Bloodstock New Blood performance and have used that platform for exactly what it is intended to be – a springboard to better things. They’ve taken the ball, run with and it and are in the process of kicking it out of the park, whatever the world throws at them.

The band’s Facebook page had been debuting snippets of this on the run up to Christmas, and this EP finally landed before the year ended. At twenty-three minutes run time, it is short and sweet – consisting of five acoustic versions of previously released songs (four from “Metamorphosis” and one from 2017’s “The Art Of Manipulation”). It’s a release born of necessity, with lone acoustic guitar work from Dr Von Stottenstein and the most hauntingly beautiful vocal performance from Psychoberrie. What it also does is expose brilliantly the deeply rich and powerful song-writing that sits at the heart of this band, and it takes a moment for me to acknowledge that yes, this is the same Shock-Rock Metal band that I’ve been raving about for the last few months. The only negatives I can throw in the direction of this release (and I really am scraping the bottom of the barrel in even bothering) is that it is so short, as you really are left wanting more.

It’s 2021 and we’re all inmates now…

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Cradle Song
02. Burn The Witch
03. Daisy Chains
04. Shadows
05. Ward XVI

LINE-UP:
Psychoberrie – Vocals and Lyrics
Dr Von Stottenstein – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Ward XVI – Metamorphosis

Ward XVI – Metamorphosis
Metal Rocka Recordings
Release Date: 25/09/2020
Running Time: 49:43
Review by Beth Jones
9.5/10

Well hello there my fellow crazy fiends. Now, those who know me will know I’m a fairly measured soul, and I’ve also been referred to as ‘the shy and retiring type’, even demur (pahahaha)! But those who know me well, will know that underneath this cleverly disguised exterior, I have a darker, more deranged side, that’s held back for special occasions. And this is one of those occasions, so please forgive my musings. Getting the chance to become an inmate on Ward XVI at Whittingham Asylum is something quite appealing to me. And getting admitted here is simple. You only have to share in the joy of the deranged, unhinged and slightly peculiar. And that is something I can definitely do!

The latest wing of Ward XVI – “Metamorphosis” – is about to open, and us lucky special inmates get to have a sneak peak, and tell you what it’s like! I’m afraid that I was admitted to the ward fairly recently, so missed the arrival of the other wings, and am now exploring them out of order, Tarantino style, apparently! But I’ve been told, that if you explore them all in order of their creation, you can see how they all fit together!

So, what’s it like here in “Metamorphosis”? Well, as you would expect from Ward XVI, it’s conceptual and follows a theme. It’s a chilling and macabre circus of the mind. The kind you dream about after too much cheese late at night. Its haunting accordion melodies conjure images of deranged, black and white striped clowns doing odd things with organs – and not the sort of organs you can play… At least not without draining the blood from them and drying them substantially first. This is backed up by the solid rhythms and riffs, and some pretty trippy electro work. Get the probes out nurse, I’m ready for my lobotomy!

The first sounds you are hit with upon entering “Metamorphosis” are that of a conversation between doctor and client, setting the scene of the decent into evil madness, the reasons for which will become clearer as we move along. This leads into ‘The Cradle Song’, which paints the picture of where the madness started. A lullaby with a dark twist, complete with ominous music box sounds. The haunting melodies and guitar work here set the mournful tone.

As you move along the twisting corridors of “Metamorphosis”, the bitterness stemming from years of neglect sing out, with Psychoberrie’s vocals delivering all the disturbing tones and nuances you would expect from one so deranged. This is pummelled further into your brain with the freak circus melodies, strange ambient sounds, and the measured work on guitars, and ska inspired bass and drums that sit below the melody.

I think my favourite area of this new wing is ‘Shadows’. It’s melancholy and disturbing, and finalises this new chapter in a perfectly dark way. Its message is sorrowful, and its lilting melody matches the hurt within the walls of the asylum…

In case you didn’t understand any of that, here’s the important bit! If you like to be taken on a theatrical journey into the madness of despair, in the style of Alice Cooper or Avatar, then Ward XVI, and this new album, are for you. It brings another level of depth and depravity to their ‘Shock Rock’ style, both musically and production wise, it’s masterfully handled. The instrumentation is ingenious, mixing ska style off beats and classic rock riffs. The use of sound effects, as well as spoken word, and some operatic and harsh vocals, add to the drama, darkness and madness throughout. Lyrically this disturbing concept album creates a deep and sorrowful picture, that draws you in from the very start. Terrifyingly beautiful, or beautifully terrifying? I’ll let you decide. Until the next chapter, inmates. Stay safe…And don’t let the shadows bite…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Retrogression
02. The Cradle Song
03. Mister Babadook
04. Daisy Chains
05. Broken Toys
06. Imago
07. A Goodnight Shot
08. Burn The Witch
09. Catch Me If You Can
10. The Verdict
11. Shadows

LINE-UP:
Psychoberrie – Vocals and Lyrics
Dr Von Stottenstein – Guitar
Wolfy Huntsman – Bass

Guest Appearances
‘Retrogression’: The Psychiatrist – Chris Barton
‘Verdict’: The Judge – Steve Walker
Drums -John Badger
Martin Crawley – Keyboards & Accordion
Anabelle Iratni – Operatic Vocals
Russ Custard – Guest Vocals: ‘Shadows’

LINKS:
www.wardxvi.com/
www.facebook.com/WardXVI/
www.twitter.com/WardXVIOfficial
www.instagram.com/wardxvi
www.wardxvi.bandcamp.com/
www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqyXfqFGUbz0T-1wFXCjjQ
www.open.spotify.com/artist/1iB6Fms5mWFqlK0vJi07of

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.