BILL WARD – Accountable Beasts (2015)
Drummer BILL WARD, who has been estranged from his former Black Sabbath bandmates, has released a new solo album (his first in 18 years) entitled “Accountable Beasts“.
Considering the media frenzy surrounding Ward and Sabbath lately – a filthy public war of words with Ozzy Osbourne over his participation, or lack of it, with Sabbath as they prepare to record their last album and embark on their final tour – “Accountable Beasts” will surely receive more attention than any of his past solo endeavors.
Thankfully, the album is interesting enough to put the naysayers in their place.
As the original drummer of pioneers Black Sabbath, Bill Ward is one of the most important figures in Heavy Metal history. No one can deny Bill Ward’s contribution to the evolution of Black Sabbath in their classic period. He appeared on their first eight studio albums, and helped to define the group’s classic sound.
While no longer a part of the band, Ward has remained busy, and is still respected in the rock and metal world.
However, if you are expecting “Accountable Beasts” to sound anything like a Black Sabbath record, you’re wrong. Bill is not reaching backwards in any way, shape or form, nor attempting to relive the past, or even harken to yesteryear at all.
It’s heavy on various moments, but also progressive, gloomy, dark and many things more, but if anything, innovative and explorative.
Ward of course plays drums here, but on two, the skins are handled by long time friend Walter Earl. The rest of the band includes Keith Lynch (guitar, keyboards) who has worked with Bill in the past, Paul Ill (bass) and Ronnie Ciago (drums), alongside an array of session back-up singers, including Ward’s daughter Emily.
Ward does the lead vocals on all tracks, and he owns a very personal way of singing. He has done lead on some Sabbath albums years ago, but here is completely different.
It’s not your regular vocalist, but the material “Accountable Beasts” are not your ‘regular songs’ anyway.
Album-opening “Leaf Killers” is a heavy number but from the start Bill inform us that this will be an intense ordeal. The metal guitar riffs are mixed with some weird orchestration and female vocals giving listeners an aural haunted house tour.
The power continues through the firery charge of the title track, while the menacingly mid-tempo “Katastrophic World” is the track on the record that most captures the spirit of classic Black Sabbath, thanks to Keith Lynch’s heavy riffing and Ward’s unmistakable drumming.
The heaviness displayed on “Katastrophic World” reaches its zenith on the raging “Ashes”, which finds Ward’s most incendiary solo album performance ever matched by some truly scorching guitar work by Lynch.
All these are heavy, yes, but twisted and not in the classic metal mould.
But Ward is defiant on this record, and the album is has its turns as mentioned earlier.
The experimental “First Day Back” mixes psychedelica and funk to offer the album’s most eclectic moment, while the synth based (not danceable, believe me) “D.O.T.H.” finds Ward’s McCartneyesque vocals and strange female voices that accompany them.
Originally released in 2002 as a charity single, the urgent (and 9/11-inspired) “Straws” makes a return appearance on “Accountable Beasts”, offering a harrowing narrative of a man desperate to protect his family as war breaks out around them. Musically it’s crazy and disorientate
The album concludes with the 10-minute epic “The Wall Of Death”, another brilliant reminder of Ward’s ability to step away from the confines of Metal and produce new music. There’s depth in the arrangements, tons of distortion and a rambling yet addictive guitar work all over.
“Accountable Beasts” is truly an artistic statement. Bill Ward has created some strange music that does not fit into any established genre. It’s heavy, dark, groovy, progressive, sometimes ethereal, but never safe.
This may disorient some, but it’s a really interesting and challenging listening experience.
Bill Ward has been kicked off from Black Sabbath, and the man answered with a (ground breaking?) album plenty of experimentation but solid and, in many ways, haunting and innovative.
It also confirms Bill Ward was one of the driving forces that pushed the boundaries in Sabbath, and transformed the band into what they are regarded in Rock history; creators of a musical genre (heavy metal).
1 – Leaf Killers
2 – Accountable Beasts
3 – Katastrophic World
4 – D.O.T.H.
5 – First Day Back
6 – As it is in Heaven
7 – Ashes
8 – Straws
9 – The Wall of Death
Bill Ward – vocals, drums
Keith Lynch – guitar, keyboards
Paul ill – bass
Walter Earl – drums
BUY IT !