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

Venus de Vilo – Slashing Through The Snow

Venus de Vilo2_RingMaster Review

Bringing Halloween to Christmas with more charm and bloodlust than Tim Burton could ever imagine, Irish queen of the macabre Venus de Vilo recently unveiled her new Frightmas EP Slashing Through The Snow. Consisting of three tales of festive mayhem sculpted in the distinctive and seductive style the Dublin born songstress of the grave is increasingly renowned for, the EP suggests there is hope for the Christmas song after all.

Once more Venus de Vilo tempts ears and imagination with her mix of acoustic and vocal rockabilly/vaudeville inspired prowess, a sound and temptation littered with additional aural candy. It is a blend which has already lured acclaim for previous releases such as the Edgar Allan Ho EP and Handle With Scare; a creative haunting and bewitching trespass masked as songs which has also seen the lady light up Dublin’s rock/metal bars, Burlesque and Cabaret nights, and open mic nights for the past years. She is also an alluring artist and writer/poet amongst many things, qualities also adding to the enthralling package of Slashing Through The Snow.

artwork_RingMaster Review   Santa’s Slay is the first dark deed on the EP, Venus instantly enticing ears vocally as her fingers strum with equal temptation on her guitar. A twisted and uncompromising visiting from the guy in red, song and artist reveal the real bloody heart of the revered protagonist of the festive event. It is a gripping insight, the outstanding and persistently compelling voice of Venus as mischievous as it is creatively harmonic and a rousing incitement on the imagination alone, but especially when loaded with her lyrical devilry.

Second track Mistletoetag is a dark folk lined encounter, Venus colouring her words in the most open and strongest lilt of her accent heard before in her songs, which only adds to the pull of the siren-esque croon. Every noted element of the season is sinisterly woven into the dark romance taking the listener from the heart to the slab, each a flirtation drawing the imagination deeper into the beguiling treat playing like an intoxicatingly intimate Black Christmas.

The EP is completed by The Night Before Christmassacre which as expected twists the ‘traditional’ yuletide story into one of visceral foul play and inescapable outcomes. Venus spins a web of grim and murderous predation, entrails and body parts littering the superb piece of rouge red prose cradled by haunting harmonies and electronic ambience.

The track as both its companions is outstanding, Venus at her best and more whilst taking ears and thoughts on a thrilling horror stained ghost train ride, one stalked by the big bloke and his guts splattered beard. Christmas is the time when you find out if you are on Santa’s good or bad list, though it matters little in the world of Venus de Vilo as confirmed by Slashing Through The Snow; there you are going to get yours come what may.

Slashing Through The Snow is out now @ https://venusdevilo.bandcamp.com/album/slashing-through-the-snow-album-comic-book-and-killendar-2016 and includes illustrated lyrics, comic book, and the digital version of Venus de Vilo’s 2016 “Killendar”.

https://www.facebook.com/VenusDeViloTheVoiceOfHorror   https://twitter.com/VenusDeVilo

Pete RingMaster 11/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Venus de Vilo – Handle With Scare Pt 1

Venus de Vilo

Horror’s temptress of the night returns with the first part of her debut album Handle With Scare, and from the six tracks it is fair to say that Venus de Vilo has lost none of her seductive revelry and demonic enticements, in fact only increased their potency along with her musical toxicity. With macabre bred passion and tales aligned to an equally dark acoustic temptation, the first teasing of the album has just bout turned an already eager soft spot for her sounds into a stalker-esque compulsion.

Venus first drew blood and attention with the siren call of her previous Edgar Allan Ho EP, a collection of songs which lingered far beyond their intent to become a fixture on the playlist of fans and underground attention, including our own podcast. The Dublin born songstress of the dead has turned the graveyard into her canvas for sonic bloodlust and sinisterly melodic adventure since 2011, proceeding to find a growing legion of fans through her performances across the city’s rock/metal bars, Burlesque and Cabaret nights, and open mic nights. Her presence has subsequently seeped further afield which the Edgar Allan Ho EP only concentrated with its devilish charm and sounds.

Pleasingly Venus has not taken a detour from her individual sound and songwriting which so potently lit up her last release, instead honing it into an even more precise and sirenesque proposition as evidenced by the new songs, starting with I’ve Got 99 Zombies And A Witch Ain’t One. Venus immediately cups ear in her potent voice to open up the song, a Wanda Jackson like depth and potency an immediate hook to which her guitar stabs lend extra drama. Though just voice and guitar, the track is instantly anthemic, swiftly lighting the imagination and sparking cinematic ventures as lady and music unveil the heart of the narrative. Twists in the vocal delivery and guitar stroll beneath haunting harmonies only add to the great melodrama caressing thoughts and emotions, an invitation which feet and voice are unable to resist.

The following Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder is just as enthralling and compelling, harmonies a delicious croon around the infectious Imelda May like bait of the song primed by Venus and her stringed enticement. Once again a full engagement with the listener is an inevitable rapid success, imagination given further inducement to explore personal shadows and gothic climates. As this and other songs lay ravenously on the psyche, there is a feel of a new confidence and precise intent working away in the heart of the tracks subsequently providing a richer clarity and persuasive tenacity than found in the previous release.

Both Bubbleglum! and Dead! Dead! Dead! keep mortuaries and ears basking in dark vaudeville temptation, the first an incessantly striding tango of stabbing riffs and ghostly harmonies around bewitching vocal predation whilst its successor decides to stalk thoughts before similarly swiping at the senses with feisty chords and Lilith incarnate vocals. Both tracks dance with wicked intent and salacious suasion, enslaving the imagination with vocal hooks within a simple but virulent stroking of guitar.

The Dead Don’t Dance slips into something even more darkly comfortable, a psychobilly whisper flirting with the theatrical colour of the menacing as harmonies shape a thick fog of expression. It is a song which takes a little longer to wrap its shadow spawned tendrils around the passions but eventually does so with unbridled success to emerge as one of the most inventive and dramatically powerful track of the sextet.

Final song Personal Satan swings with sixties embrace in its addictive tempting, essences of Shangri-Las and in some ways the Walker Brothers permeating the mouthwatering graveside balladry. It is a riveting end to a thrilling introduction to Handle With Scare.

With the album’s second half looking to be unveiled later this year anticipation for its full uncaging has gone up in impatience and excitement thanks to this teasing, and if the likes of Horrorpops, The Revillos, Imelda May, and fifties female rock ‘n’ roll instigators is a very palatable attraction for you then Venus de Vilo is a venomous treat just waiting to inflame and devour your lives.

Check out Handle With Scare Pt 1 @https://soundcloud.com/venus-devilo/sets/handle-with-scare

https://www.facebook.com/VenusDeViloSongsFromTheStalkersPointOfView

9/10

RingMaster 18/06/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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