Bill Ward Band: Accountable Beasts

Sabbath drummer’s first solo album for 18 years.

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If it worked for Bowie, why not Bill Ward? Out of the blue last month, the estranged Black Sabbath drummer uploaded his first solo album since 1997 onto iTunes. So it turns out Bill Ward hasn’t been twiddling his drumsticks waiting for Ozzy and co to relent.

Ward’s last album, 1997’s When The Bough Breaks, was a blues-tinged and relatively mellow, self-reflective affair, but this is a far more curious creature.

Sabs fans will find the opening passages of chugging riffage on Leaf Killers comfortingly familiar, but then we venture off the beaten path as operatic vocal trills and melodramatic orchestral passages abound and Ward’s rather thin voice whines, ‘Undignified, uncompromised does not apply to me.’

The QOTSA-style urgency of the title track is another change of pace, before D.O.T.H.’s melodramatic pomp speaks of ‘the tearing down of me’, whatever that means, and ‘the darkest of the horse awaits my head’. First Day Back and Katastrophic World are similarly dystopian visions, then As It Is In Heaven is an oddly Floydian lament.

It’s all a little schizophrenic-sounding, but as such, it’s strangely riveting stuff. And a damn sight more adventurous fare than you’d expect your average sexagenarian rock drummer to come up with./o:p

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock