Bill Ward: Accountable Beasts (Aston Cross Music)
The third solo album from original Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, arriving some 18 years after his previous release. Over the past few years, Ward has been very vocal in his on-going spat with his former band mates, especially Ozzy. Neither side has covered themselves in glory, but it seems that Ward has been the one left with egg on his face as Sabbath’s last run of incredible shows and very impressive album 13 proved.
Accountable Beasts is an album that Ward has apparently been working on for a number of years. So what’s it like? Well, Ward’s vocals are interesting, with a high pitched, jazz infused delivery supported by some operatic style vocals; a cross between Muse and Serj Tankian from SOAD. The music is an eclectic mix of hard rock, jazz rambling and electronic edges. Overall it is just a bit mad; plenty of abstract time changes and obscure lyrics. For example, First Day Back contains a funk fusion breakdown in the middle of it. Opener Leaf Killers (is that a song about road sweepers or drug users?) has a gritty riff, wild piano and crazy Zappa style vocals. You’ll either love it or hate it. The title track has a QOTSA feel about it, driving guitars with the falsetto vocals whilst Katastrophic World contains some more than a flavour of Sabbath with some doom laden riffs but a 1970s psychedelic edge.
Ward has amassed some excellent musicians with the percussion of Walter Earl enhancing the drumming of Ward and Ronnie Ciago. Meanwhile the lead guitar work from Keith Lynch, a Ward stalwart and solo artist in his own right, is excellent with hard edged rock juxtaposed with jazz and funk elements. As the album progresses the 1970s influence becomes even more apparent, with As it is in Heaven a particularly eclectic and insane tune with some nice brass complimenting the sound. Ashes has a harder edge, an anti-capitalist song with huge change of pace and again the Tankian verbal delivery jumping around all over the place. To conclude the album, nothing better than a ten minute track; The Wall Of Death which combines elements of Pink Floyd with the grandiose style of Pulp and the early 90s indie scene. Whilst I’d describe it as Marmite album, at times I found myself completely ambivalent and at other times quite captivated with aspects of it which are completely different to the majority of music today. Chaotic and crazy in parts, it really is an interesting listen. 7/10