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’
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.
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Whittingham Asylum based Theatrical Avant-Garde Rock band, Ward XVI. Huge thanks to all of them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us about the history of the band?
Psychoberrie: I’m Psychoberrie, lead vocalist. We formed in 2013 although it took a few years to find our footing as we had a few line-up changes in the beginning. We released a 4 track EP in 2015 and then our debut album in 2017 and that same year we progressed through the Metal 2 the Masses competition to bag ourselves a slot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock. On the back of that success we went on to tour with Doyle of the Misfits and played many other festival slots including Amplified, Hammerfest, Hard Rock Hell, Breaking Bands and SOS to name a few. We now have a sturdy following of inmates all around the UK. We took a short break from touring towards the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 to write and record our follow-up to ‘The Art of Manipulation’ which is called “Metamorphosis” and will be released on 25th September. We also recently signed to Hard Rock Hell’s label Metal Rocka, a new sister label to Off Yer Rocka and we’re looking forward to what the future has in store.
Dr Von Stottenstein: Guitar
Wolfy Huntsman: I play the bass and the Doyle tour was my audition for the band. I was a huge fan of them for years before I joined as well.
The Badger: Drums
How did you come up with your band name?
Psychoberrie: Back in the 1960’s there were reports of cruelty and mistreatment which took place at Whittingham Hospital, a psychiatric hospital based near our hometown of Preston. The worst of which took place on Ward 16 which was an all-female ward.
Whilst this helped inspire the concept it is only based loosely around the ward at Whittingham as the story revolves around Ward XVI for the criminally insane which is completely fictional.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Psychoberrie: We’re from the North West, based in Preston. The Metal/Rock scene has always been fairly good in Preston; however much like the rest of the UK more and more live venues keep closing and the Rock/Metal club nights have ceased. There used to be a great club called The Warehouse which had 3 floors of Rock/Metal and Punk; however, if you venture there nowadays, you’ll find 3 floors of dance and hip hop. I’m not sure why they decided to switch to playing the same music as every other club as it was always busy, and it still has the same owners.
Wolfy Huntsman: I’m from the North West of England and where I live there are two small pubs for cover bands and small gigs but if I want to see a bigger band or go to a metal bar I’ve got to travel 2 1/2 hours to Manchester.
The Badger: Manchester, I think it’s one the strongest underground scenes in the UK.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Psychoberrie: “Metamorphosis” is available for pre-order now and our first single from the album will be released soon. Our last single from our debut album was ‘Hold Me’ which was released in February last year. It can be found on all music platforms and the lyric video by Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art can be found over on our YouTube channel. Just search ‘Ward XVI Hold Me’
Who have been your greatest influences?
Psychoberrie: Alice Cooper, Guns n Roses, Alter Bridge, Skindred.
Dr Von Stottenstein: Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith was and is my number one inspiration, but Richie Sambora, Dave Gilmour, Steve Rothery, and Mark Knopfler initially.
Through the years I started to like more technical players like Kee Marcello, Nuno Bettencourt George Lynch, Steve Vai, Jason Becker and Mark Tremonti from Creed and Alterbridge etc…
Wolfy Huntsman: Guthrie Govan as he’s so chill yet a true master at what he does, Erlend Caspersen, the bassist of my fave band IGORRR. Mixing all types of techniques and genres together in one song is what he’s master of and Justin Chancellor, the bassist of TOOL because of how he plays and writes… it’s all so genius.
The Badger: That’s a tough one as there are a few influential people not just in music. Dave Lombardo drummer from Slayer, Filmmaker John Carpenter and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What first got you into music?
Psychoberrie: I’m not from a musical family and had no way of really discovering heavy/rock music until MySpace became a big deal. I’d always written poems and lyrics but I didn’t go to a gig until I was 16 and then I went all out and booked a ticket to Download Festival for my first live experience. I remember looking up at the stage knowing that’s exactly where I wanted to be.
Dr Von Stottenstein: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to music. I can remember air guitaring to The Final Countdown in 1986 and there were times before.
I was a sporty kid but when I went to Secondary school, I got into the music crowd, and 7/8 of us all got our first guitar at first year Xmas together and kinda helped each other learn and jam through the rest of the 5 years of school. Was pretty cool looking back, and a couple of us have done pretty well… one of this group ended up as Liam Gallagher’s guitarist.
Wolfy Huntsman: Just everyone in my family surrounding me with it. My mam would play the likes of Bon Jovi and other rock, my brothers would play drum n bass and techno… I like all types of music.
The badger: I was brought up on dance music from the early 90’s, finding drum n bass as my first great musical love. I then encountered Metallica “Master of Puppets” on MTV from a concert Cunning Stunts in 1999 opening up another world of music to me.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Dr Von Stottenstein: Avatar or Iron maiden.
Wolfy Huntsman: IGORRR. my fave band. Pure musical genius.
The Badger: Carpenter Brut from France.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you play?
Psychoberrie: Download Festival purely because it’s where my journey began and it’s where I told myself I would be as a 16-year old. That will be the absolute pinnacle for me.
Dr Von Stottenstein; I’d like to go back to Bloodstock with our new stage show. Since we played, we’ve grown and developed so much, and the show has become more intricate and ambitious. It would be nice to go back to where it all started amongst all our friends. I’d like to play a European festival like Metal Days or Graspop too as I believe our music would be well received over there. My aim is to hit Download as it’s something I’d promised Psychoberrie I’d get her to.
Wolfy Huntsman: Hellfest. I’ve been once and out of all the festivals I’ve been to that is the best and biggest.
The Badger: Hellfest: reason is because they never fail to put on a great line-up.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Psychoberrie: I think our daughter has received more gifts than us, she’s had a Black and White crocheted baby blanket, Ward XVI Babygro’s, bibs, books, teddies, you name it. We’ve received some cool pieces of art from both children and adults and we keep all of it. In my last band I was gifted a rubber chicken and some men’s boxers but nothing particularly weird whilst with Ward XVI, which is strange because this is a much weirder stage show.
Dr Von Stottenstein: We’ve had Ward XVI cookies made for us.
The Badger: I never had anything weird, but I was sent a bottle of Slayer Red Wine.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Psychoberrie: Thanks, we’re absolutely shocked and humbled at the response we’ve had to the “Metamorphosis” pre-order bundles. The support they’ve given us has been crazy, we see our T-shirts everywhere we go. It became a struggle continuing with Ward XVI after we had some trouble with line-up changes in addition to me having a baby but I had to carry on because I know there are people out there waiting for the second chapter, people out there with our imagery tattooed on them and I couldn’t let them down.
Dr Von Stottenstein: What Psychoberrie said. I’m as much of a fan of our fans as our fans are to us. We’re just a big group of inmates that feed off each other like a community. Their loyalty will be paid back, this new album is something we’re very proud of.
Wolfy Huntsman: The underground music scene is suffering. try going to see more live bands. Keep the momentum going! Obviously when Covid-19 goes away
The Badger: Continue to support the underground scene as much you already do.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Psychoberrie: Bon Scott.
Dr Von Stottenstein: I’d say none. Obviously death isn’t something I wish upon anyone and many deaths of people have affected me, but when artists die, something special and timeless happens to their music and spirit… think of Freddie Mercury, absolute tragic death to a monumental talent, but so much good socially and musically resulted from that death… a lasting legacy that has positively inspired since. I’d not want such legacies ruined. I don’t believe in maybe’s; I just believe in what is and how all things have led to this point in time.
Wolfy Huntsman: Kurt Cobain so I could ask how he died.
The Badger: Cliff Burton.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Psychoberrie: Performing our own songs and meticulously planned stage show is what I most enjoy, especially when the crowd get really involved, the feeling is ecstatic. The bit I hate is having to fit it on around a full time job, motherhood and a horse, it’s a hell of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, I do all the artwork, we make all the props, do all the organising on top of rehearsals and it doesn’t leave much time for friends and family so I feel guilty that I’m not able to give them my time, not visit grandparents as much as I should, rush time with my horse etc. I feel guilty and selfish.
Dr Von Stottenstein: Good: meeting incredible people who seem to enjoy what silly things we do. Bad: wish it paid enough not to have to work full time to afford what we do.
Wolfy Huntsman: I do it for the FEEL, music just makes me feel good in a world of crap. that and the social aspect of meeting so many AMAZING people on the journey! The ONLY things I hate are when I get an injury or when some of my gear breaks. both are very quickly fixed.
The Badger: I enjoy nearly all parts about being a musician, from writing music to preforming live. The only thing I dislike is carrying around the equipment.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Psychoberrie: I’d put it back to the way it was before when people had to pay for music, not stream it for free. I preferred it when everybody downloaded music illegally because at least then they knew they were ripping the bands off haha. We obviously do it for the love of music and performing but the future always looks bleak. How long can we keep working ourselves to death day and night and keep on putting all our wages into the band? It’s expensive and extremely time consuming and those are the main reasons most bands split up.
Dr Von Stottenstein: I guess it can be cynical at times and down-heartening at times and there’s always someone looking to exploit someone who is naive and just over-zealous. Certainly, things like Spotify and so on which doesn’t really support artists and the associated costs to produce music.
Wolfy Huntsman: We’ve come across several Sound Techs who dont seem to have a clue what they are doing. I’ve seen musicians themselves correct Sound Techs.
The Badger: Not an easy question to ask but all I would say is pay artists fair and don’t exploit them.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Psychoberrie: Guns N Roses – “Appetite For Destruction”
Dr Von Stottenstein: Iron Maiden – “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”
Wolfy Huntsman: Rishloo – “Feathergun”
The Badger: Ministry – “Sphinctour”
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Psychoberrie: CD’s. I’ve only just started collecting vinyl and it’s cool but it’s a bit cumbersome. While I don’t deny the vinyl audio quality is better, with a CD you just stick it in and hit play, but you still get that physical experience being able to read the album booklet and such. I don’t like downloads; I appreciate that they’re more convenient, but I just prefer having something to hold.
Dr Von Stottenstein: I’m old so I have many fond memories of vinyl- how awesome the 12” art was and reading all the credits and lyrics on the gatefold etc. Picture discs too!! Legendary! I do love the scale and concept of vinyl and what extra such space can enhance the overall product.
Obviously, CD’s and now Digital are more convenient/practical/better quality sound etc… but you don’t half lose that visual magic. Music isn’t just about what enters your ears. It’s a multi-sensory experience.
Going to record exchanges, filing through millions of old records and seeing all the ace art is way better that scrolling through Sterile iTunes and so on.
Wolfy Huntsman: I’ve done too much research on this… vinyl is the best but only if you spend a good amount of money to get a good set up, purely as it is the best uncompressed sound quality… there is better than that though something called Laserdisc but we won’t go into that.
The Badger: CD’s is what I grew up on, but I also see the importance of streaming websites as we are able to discover new bands a lot.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Psychoberrie: Bloodstock Festival 2017. We’d only ever played small clubs prior to that so it was insane and the amount of people that came to see us at 10:30am was astounding. We were worried about our set time, so we did a lot of promo prior to the event and when they opened the gates there was literally a stampede of people running towards the tent. It was packed with people spilling out of the sides. It was such a rush playing that day and we spent the rest of the day being interviewed in VIP which was completely new to us
Dr Von Stottenstein:BOA 2017
Wolfy Huntsman: I’m not sure… there’s A LOT but I’m going to say when we played London on the Doyle tour as that was the last day of the tour, I got very emotional that day.
The Badger: I would have to say my Drumming Up Change Challenge event, where I performed with 10 bands in one day, raising money for mental health.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Psychoberrie: I work full time as 3D and graphic designer producing magazine ads, event banners and exhibition stand designs for a motocross distribution company. My job’s pretty cool but if I could turn back the clock, I’d have done an apprenticeship instead of a degree so I could do a job that’s more hands on as I hate sitting at a desk.
Dr Von Stottenstein: Bass player
Wolfy Huntsman: I have a few hobbies, but if I weren’t playing bass all the time, I’d probably dedicate my time to rock climbing.
The badger: I couldn’t honestly say.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Psychoberrie: Alice Cooper, Slash, Myles Kennedy, Benji Webb and Greg Davies.
Dr Von Stottenstein: Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden, Mark Tremonti, Viggo Mortensen, The Predator, My Mum
Wolfy Huntsman: This is going to be rather boring but I’m going to say 5 of my friends as I know if I do that it is guaranteed to be a good time no matter what happens. Joe, George, Becca, Stacey, Will.
The Badger: Rik Mayall (R.I.P.), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lars Ulrich, Quentin Tarantino, Simon Pegg.
What’s next for the band?
Psychoberrie: We have a couple of singles to release shortly followed by the album release on 25th September. Then after that we’re going all out for the album launch show on October 9th at Manchester Academy 3 with some great supporting bands on the bill, Footprints in the Custard and Pulverise, plus a magician Lyndon Webb. We’ll be playing the new album in full with a whole new stage show. We’ve been working on some insane props.
Dr Von Stottenstein: we’re insanely proud of the new album and the sacrifices and effort it’s taken to push through countless chances to quit to make it.
Psychoberrie’s told the timeline, but I just want an opportunity to tour with bands to learn from, play on larger stages which allow our props to be used without tripping over each other and so on.
A full 2021 UK tour will be planned soon.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Psychoberrie: Our new website is now up with our brand new shop where you can find all our pre-order bundles and a few cheeky one off items: www.wardxvi.com
Psychoberrie: Cake, for one it says so on the packet.
Dr Von Stottenstein: if these troubled times have told us nothing more it’s that adding labels only fuels division and marginalisation.
The Jaffa is exactly what it wants to be, and I’ll support its choice… never had one to be honest.
Wolfy Huntsman: It’s a cake. a small cake with jelly and chocolate. nothing more, nothing less.
The Badger: Cake.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Psychoberrie: For those who don’t know us, Ward XVI are a theatrical horror band. Our albums revolve around a central fictional character known as Psychoberrie, the UK’s most violent serial killer. Now incarcerated, during an interview with a psychiatrist she tells tales of events that took place prior to the incarceration. “The Art Of Manipulation” tells the tale of how she used her feminine charm to manipulate a man into killing for her own twisted form of amusement. The next chapter “Metamorphosis” is due for release on the 25th of September and the synopsis is as follows:
Deep inside the walls of Whittingham Asylum, a new inmate is tortured mercilessly at the hands of those who keep her. Consumed by a ferocious rage, she succumbs to the comfort of insanity. What emerges from the shadows is more evil and profane than any of her tormentors could have imagined…”Metamorphosis” challenges everything you think you know about the notorious fiend, Psychoberrie. Travel back to the very beginning and ask yourself: is evil born, or made?
A mother’s love, formed in a haze of dolls and daisies, is blackened by merciless addiction. A little girl seeks protection from the broken and abandoned, anything to quell the monster that comes at night. Corrupted by unspeakable cruelty, pious innocence undergoes a malevolent transformation. Experience the elation of a first kill and the debauchery that ensues, culminating in a desperate run from the law.
Wolfy Huntsman: MONUMENTAL THANK YOU to everyone who supports us. “Metamorphosis” our second album is out on September the 25th and we can’t wait to show you all what we have in store!
Dr Von Stottenstein: Come and join the other inmates in our Facebook group. Loads of chats and intellectually challenging posts to get your teeth into.
Oh… not sure if anyone has mentioned, but we’ve an album out on the 25/9/2020. Head to www.wardxvi.com to pre-order.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.