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Ward XVI - 'The Art Of Manipulation' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/fd/15/88/ward-xvi-the-art-of-manipulation-59-1516737816.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 23, 2018    
 
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Different for sure, but also very enjoyable.

Ward XVI hail from Preston, England and have been together since summer 2013. 'The Art Of Manipulation' is their debut full-length release and follows an EP in the early part of 2015. The band consists of six members; namely Psychoberrie (vocals), Lex Whittingham (guitar), Dr. Von Stottenstein (guitar), Jake L (drums), Min (keyboards/accordion) and Beardy McStumble (bass). I'd be surprised if any of those names were real, though it would have made for an interesting event should any have been christened so. Each musician comes from a different musical background, drawing influences from the likes of Alice Cooper, Lordi, The Skintz, Stolen Babies, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Iron Maiden and Alter Bridge. A number of those influences come through during the course of the album, though there is a strong Pop Punk undercurrent infused with a more direct Rock/Metal ethic.

'...Manipulation' is essentially a twelve track concept release telling the introspective story of a female psychopath locked away in a high-security asylum. The sound and approach is quite unique and the theatrical nature of the material and its delivery gives the impression of a soundtrack to a live show... a modern day 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' if you like. The twelve "proper" tracks are complimented by several short narratives emphasising the conceptual idea, as well as acting as a linking story arc. If anything, these short passages break the flow of the music and though the momentum is never lost and the energy levels never dip, I still feel they are unnecessary.

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The melodies and hooks are strong throughout, meaning each track has the ability to stand on its own merit without detracting from its cog-like place in the overall story wheel. The performances are very good and Psychoberrie can shift between contrasting vocal styles seemingly with ease. The melancholic 'Hold Me' does not seem out of place next to the more caustic 'Run For Your Lives' and highlights the bands imaginative writing mantra. The occasional use of accordion and Wurlitzer generates an uneasy carnival mood at times and strengthens the theatrical elements of 'The Art Of Manipulation' mentioned earlier.

I'm sure this album will divide opinion and may not be to the taste of many who read or even write for this magazine. I found it to be different for sure, but also very enjoyable and I will be looking for live dates with an eager eye from now on.

Dave Bott

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