Ward XVI – The Art Of Manipulation

Grabbing attention, certainly for a moment or two is pretty much within the ability of most artists with an inkling of imagination in their sound and presentation; sustaining it across a parade of tracks and releases is not so easy but a prowess well within the capabilities of British outfit Ward XVI. They poked at ears and an initial awareness of their individual adventure with a self-titled debut EP in 2015 and now truly stoke the fires of both with their first album. The Art Of Manipulation is a 16-track escapade as diverse and bold in flavours as it is compelling in theatrical imagination and oh so enjoyable and fun.

Hailing from Preston, Ward XVI is a sextet of musicians bringing an array of widespread inspirations into their individual and united creativity. Since the release of that first EP, the band has shared stages with the likes of William Control and The Men that will not be Blamed for Nothing, played the main stage at O2 Academy Leeds in the final of the Soundwaves Music Competition, and increased their reputation and success across their native North West with a host of headlining shows. Recently signing with Germany’s Rock ’N’ Growl Records, the band is now teasing and tempting national recognition with The Art Of Manipulation, a release which has you rocking in body and imagination from start to finish with its multi-flavoured avant-garde rock.

A concept album telling the introspective story of a female psychopath locked away in a high security asylum, each track a delving into her past life and telling the story of how she manipulated a man into killing for her using her feminine charm, The Art Of Manipulation introduces itself with doctor and protagonist tempting and contemplating the story leading to the waiting embrace of Ward XVI. Take My Hand emerges from its lead, melancholic guitar and keys caressing the senses as vocalist Psychoberrie adds her potent lures to its entrance. Soon a gentle stroll, the song swiftly reveals an infectious swing, a low key flirtation which soon finds a hungrier intent as the song explodes with a fusion of metal/rock tenacity. Two minutes of rousing rock ‘n’ roll, the song sets up appetite and attention with ease and ready for the album’s following title track. Again a mellow start beckons ears, guitars weaving an elegant web before the darker shadows of Beardy McStumble’s bass and the senses clipping beats of Jake step in. There is an elegant but portentous air to the joining keys of Min, a threat which ignites as the song slips into a tempestuous canter of riffs and rhythms led by the increasingly enticing and impressive tones of Psychoberrie. Theremin lures add to the intrigue and appetising character of the track, punk and metal essences colluding with the rapacious rock ‘n’ roll steered by the guitars of Lex Whittingham and Dr. Von Stottenstein with the song ebbing and flowing in energy and aggression across its eventful body, every second a tease and temptation to devour.

A verbal interlude bridges one rich highlight to another as The Flight takes over, the track at first a heavy boned hard rock stomp but soon surrounding its heady march with electro revelry. It is a glorious rousing mix, a fusion of flavours which, though not exactly in a similar sound, ignites the imagination like a fusion of Kontrust and Russkaja, heavy metal flames extra spicing to the fiery mix. By now the diversity of the Ward XVI sound is inescapable, a magnetic trait among many which continues into the next up and brilliant Crystal Ball. Instantly capturing ears with its open Stolen Babies inspiration, the song quickly adds some gypsy dance revelry to the mix, Min’s accordion a flirtatious enticement as it aligns with Molotov Jukebox like antics and emerges as another unique track in the Ward XVI asylum.

The piano nurtured beauty of Hold Me calms things down a touch, the key’s suggestive writing courted by spicy guitar strains and the bewitching voice of Psychoberrie as the song irresistibly serenades the senses. Becoming more volatile with each passing minute, the track keenly captivates before another revealing interlude splits its draw and the equally potent call of Blackened Heart. A heavy rock roar, the song shares its own creative dance of varied spices and individual craft to keep the pleasure flowing even though it misses the bolder attributes of other tracks around it such as Run For Your Lives. The track is a boisterous mix of antagonism and flirtation, the keys mixing gypsy punk with the hard rock throes of riffs and rhythms and with vocals just as textually mixed and gripping, irritability increasingly brewing in them as the sounds until the carnival dance of its finale, it is another pinnacle of an already highly addictive proposition.

Adrenochromania seduces like a dark dream, its predacious shadows and spatial melodic caresses a weave of emotional disorder and euphoria; a union careering towards rock ‘n’ roll psychosis which breaks with zeal and enterprise as the guitars subsequently sizzle and keys progressively weave with equal relish. Psychoberrie gives the recipe to manipulation within it all, her tones a lingering essence as the song departs for the lively electro rock ‘n’ roll of Cry Of The Siren to step up and stir up body and energy.

Its potent temptation is instantly overshadowed by the psychotic nursery room smile of Toybox, the song recalling Stolen Babies again with a touch of Venus De Vilo to the vocal dance of Psychoberrie. Accordion and guitars wrap around rhythmic trespasses as the song hits its full weighty voice though it is that initial innocence spawned discordance which steals the passions most on its subsequent return into the track’s muscular tempest.

The outstanding Inner Demon has ears and thoughts flared up again with its rapacious punk ‘n’ roll, hooks and grooves as dangerous as the edge in the vocals and the song’s rhythmic infestation of the senses. Providing another major highlight, the song brings another hue to the landscape and adventure of the album, as all those before it, pushing and stretching the band’s sound and drama to another slightly different and deranged quarter without losing the inherent infectiousness of the release.

The album closes with the track Ward XVI, its own and its inmate’s final destination reached. An initial keys crafted gentle start deceives; its suggestion of contrition and realisation soon consumed by the raging blaze of sound and intensity which erupts as the release burns its final success into the senses and imagination. It is a fine end to an encounter which offers a little more with every listen; a striking affair from a band we for one are already hungrily waiting to hear more from. The Art Of Manipulation is a must for the bold, musically adventurous, and yes slightly deranged.

The Art Of Manipulation is out now on Rock ’N’ Growl Records @ https://wardxvi.bandcamp.com/album/the-art-of-manipulation

http://www.wardxvi.com/     https://www.facebook.com/WardXVI/

Pete RingMaster 11/07/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Kill Ritual – Harder Than Stone

KillRiutalHarderThanStone

AS US thrashers Kill Ritual complete the recording of their second album The Eyes Of Medusa, with a planned release of next year, the San Francisco thrashers unleash new single Harder Than Stone. Whether the track will be on the upcoming release or not time will tell but such its pleasing craft and stature, the new song will only breed a sturdy appetite for itself and the following album.

The seven minute song was initially recorded during the basic tracking sessions of the excellent album, The Serpentine Ritual.  It is an extensive piece of adventure from the quartet of vocalist Crimson, guitarist Steven Rice (ex-Imagika), bassist Danyael Laughing Bear (ex-Dark Angel), and drummer Gee Anzalone, a single that teases, challenges, and thrills the senses with commanding riffs , demanding rhythms, and sonic temptation.

A vocal call beckons in winding grooves and punchy rhythms as the song begins with the guitar casting sonic flames through it all to singe the hairs that dwell within the ear. It is a potent entrance, an irresistible invitation soon given bulk by the roving drums and probing bassline scorched by the now fiery guitar play. The vocals of Crimson emerge with a mix of clean and crusty growls which exploit the twisting course of the song whilst the track itself switches through strides of Metallica like urgency, Suicidal Tendencies like punk devilry, and Exodus like melodic blazes. The track is a constantly engaging and shifting piece of invention that just wets the whistle for future things.

The single is probably not the best thing Kill Ritual has unveiled to date, there are moments where it falls a little flat, though debatably that is down to production more than song, but as a tempter for the forthcoming full-length it is an infectious hook which successfully completes its mission in sparking a truly strong appetite.

Harder Than Stone is released as a free download via Rock N Growl Records.

http://killritual.com/

8/10

RingMaster 09/08/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Ashes You Leave: The Cure For Happiness

Croatian band Ashes You Leave as shown by their new album The Cure For Happiness, just get better and better. The release is their best to date and looks set to thrill many more new hearts with its muscular doom and gothic metal sounds. Following their acclaimed album Songs of the Lost of 2009, the new album sees the band unleashing their heaviest and arguably darkest collection of songs, reaping the energy and intensity of darker heart borne realms without losing the melodic invention and shadow fuelled passion they are renowned for. It is an impressive return for a band which is no stranger to strong applaud and enthusiastic attention.

Forming in 1995, the Rijeka band has risen from a time when music let alone metal had no expectations or credible chance of success in a worn torn country, to the biggest metal band in their homeland and leading force in the whole of the Eastern European region. Through the likes of Desperate Existence, Fire, and Songs of the Lost, all albums making big impacts, the band has forged itself as a name with wider recognition well beyond its borders but The Cure For Happiness, their sixth album, should be the one to thrust them to an even greater standing in world metal. It is a release which is as intriguing as it is immediately and forcibly engaging, offering new experiences and whispers with each and every journey within its imaginative sounds and melancholic breath.

Over the years the band has gone through line-up changes, especially with the position of lead vocalist, and the Rock N Growl Records released The Cure For Happiness is no exception. Despite having to search for a new voice three times, the band always has had the insight and skill to choose ladies which have added something different whilst contributing an impressive level of vocal craft and expression recognised with their sounds. The new album is the first with new singer Giada “Jada” Etro and again the result is openly rewarding for them and us. Italian songstress Etro has a riveting voice which can mesmerise whilst nipping at the senses within songs which do exactly the same, and alongside the snarling and ravenous additional vocals of guitarist Berislav Poje and bassist Luka Petrovic, makes the perfect enchanting conspirator and foil.

The first touch of the album comes with lone keys within a brewing atmosphere which soon expands into a busier yet still graceful presence. Opener Devil in Disguise again steps back into the shadows as the voice of Etro accompanied by the impacting piano begins the unveiling of the heart of the song. It is with the emotive violin of Marta Batinic though where one is truly inspired to accompany the song with personal feelings upon its journey in answer to his impassioned caress upon the ear. The track is soon evolving and moving through melodic enterprise, powerful energies and notable invention to escalate the engagement and as the song emerges as a stirring blend of metal and melodic rock with symphonic leanings and gothic intent it leaves on engrossed and open for the rampaging climax with the scything guitar riffs of Poje and Matija Rempesic pushing the intensity further to a thrilling finale. To be honest the first time the song played it did not capture the imagination as instantly as other songs further on but given time to make its persuasion it becomes one potent pleasure.

Only Ashes You Leave and For the Heart, Soul and Mind step up next and take the enjoyment even deeper, both a continuation of tone from the first song whilst bringing different shadows and depths into focus emotionally and musically. The first is a heated expression of melodic and sonic craft driven by charged riffs and the intimidating rhythms of drummer Sasa Vukosav. Again the strings of Batinic play with emotions whilst the keys of Darko Terlevic explore their deepest corners within the inciting creativity. The rabid ending of male vocals and riffs makes way for an irresistible bass welcome from Petrovic for the beginning of the second of the two, a track which delves into the black of life further and with relish.

As a whole the album flows perfectly with a linking atmosphere across its expanse though there as to be expected are particular peaks. The first is the just mentioned track which is equally matched by the glorious Summer’s End, a song where the band pus everything they have into an imaginative wrap of melodic beauty and triumphant enterprise. Both though are surpassed by easily the best track on the album, Reality Sad. This song opens up the shadows pervading the album to draw even darker energies and emotions forth. It is a haunting and almost insidiously seductive embrace which ignites the fullest passion. Rippling with danger and venomous essence the song is immense and a flavour one hopes the band use more of ahead.

Reality Sad does highlight that for personal tastes the album falls a little short of being the classic the track suggests was within their grasp, the other songs despite their might in the shadow of this particular magnificence, but without doubt The Cure For Happiness is a thoroughly enjoyable and openly impressive album which fans of bands such as Within Temptation, Epica, and Nightwish will eagerly welcome into their dark bosom.

www.ashesyouleave.org

www.facebook.com/ashesyouleave

RingMaster 29/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Xander Demos: Guitarcadia

Let us open with the admittance that guitar virtuosity has never been high on requirements for our tastes at The RR, the infernal indulgences and flamboyant intricacies no substitute to our preferences for riotous passion and inciteful riffing. That said there are a few artists which have emerged recently to show over blown excesses are not necessarily needed to create impressive and expressive guitar driven music. One such artist is UK guitarist Jay Parmar and now there is Pittsburgh musician Xander Demos. Both bring a more stable and balanced approach  for these tastes and though Demos especially does walk the line of excess at times it has a restraint which leaves us enjoying it more. Of course this is just personal and easily Guitarcadia, the new album from Xander Demos, is more than a vibrant feast for guitar lovers to purr over.

Demos is an artist who seemingly likes to keep busy as not only does he have his own solo band who back him on the album, he also plays in Into The Arena, the top cover band in his home city which he formed in 2006, and has recently joined the new East Coast chapter of the Sabbath Judas Sabbath project. With his own band, Demos has shared stages with the likes of Neil Zaza, UFO, The Dio Deciples, Lizzy Borden and Kip Winger over the past year or so and with the release of Guitarcadia through Rock N Growl Records, he is set to find his name open to international awareness.

Backed by bassist Matt Williams, drummer Chris Batten (with Dean Minerva and Mike Stover appearing on some tracks),

Art by OneTwoTree Designs

and Adam Heuesy on keyboards, Demos ignites the air which what is impressively inventive and intelligent artistry. It may not always trigger our deepest responses but there is no denying his craft and heart which drips off every note. The album opens with Right Angles, a track with an eighties rock feel which flavours the wash of sonic skill which coats the ear from first note to last. The song reaches out to caress with scorched melodies and enticing harmonic mastery whilst the drums form a powerful frame to hold it all in place. In his bio the influences of Shawn Lane, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, and Vinnie Moore are listed amongst the main inspirations, and their essences can easily be heard in his inventiveness on the song alone.

The following Nothing Major again reaps essences from early guitar rock especially with the keys adding their own nostalgic embrace. It is a piece of music which feels like the soundtrack to a larger than life TV show or movie, it does not quite work for us but again Demos shows he is a manipulating wizard with fingers to make any girl sigh.

Many of the tracks for us have the same result, their impressive songwriting and play obvious and easy to applaud but they do not ignite any real sparks, the likes of Chase The Sun, Metagalactic, and Lady In Red, heated pleasures at the time without firing up any real passions. With our unfortunate for him different preferences we brought in a couple of independent opinions who love guitar playing extravaganzas to give a balance, and both found the songs and album an impressive and inspiring treat.

There were some notable moments on the album though which also had us licking our lips, firstly the first of two songs out of the ten which had vocals. Under A Darkened Sky is a melodic rock gem which is still eighties based but has a classic metal energy and presence to captivate fully as well as further show the eclectic breath of the album. The second vocal track is a cover of Boys Of Summer by Don Henley. Sadly it does not work and is the only unsatisfying track on the album. Musically it is imaginative as Demos energises it into a speedy metallic surge but the vocals are weak in comparison and the production even worse, there is a lack of clarity overall whilst the layers of sound do not blend so everything sounds clumsy and unrelated.

As said it is an exception and with the further consecutive highlights of the excellent White Knuckle Driving , Guitarcadia, and  Woodshed Sonata of such stature and compulsive quality is a mere blip. The first of the three is a feisty storm of incendiary melodic enterprise which dazzles consistently. It is the best song on the album though closely rivalled by the other pair, the title track a guitar player’s wet dream and the latter a piece of music which is as mischievous as it is muscular and absorbing.

Obviously Guitarcadia is not really the type of music which is best served by our personal likes but we can say if artistic invention and eye watering guitar skills lights your fires you should have a raging inferno inside over the new album from Xander Demos.

www.XanderDemos.com

RingMaster 24/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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