If you don't have this album yet, then...WELL, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Get off yer hiney and buy it, NOW, especially if you are a Black Sabbath fan.
Just in case you never heard of him (and if you haven't, then shame on you!), Bill Ward was (is) the original drummer for Black Sabbath. He originally left Sabbath after 1980's Heaven and Hell album, but came back (very briefly) for the 1983 album " Born Again ". After he left and rejoined and left Sabbath a few more times, nothing was heard from Ward again until this album came out at the beginning of 1990. I have to admit, I did not know what to expect from this album and I was very pleasantly surprised when I finally listened to it, for it is PRETTY DARN GREAT! Who would have thought Bill Ward would have released something this unique and orginal and great? Certainly not I, but I'm awful glad he did, because I love this album and think it's the best Black Sabbath album since Born Again.
For " Ward One ", Bill surrounded himself with a (mostly) all star cast, including bassists Bob Daisley and Marco Mendoza, drummer Eric Singer, guitarist Zakk Wylde, vocalist/bassist Jack Bruce (!) and former band mate Ozzy Osbourne (!!!). Musically, I would say this album is a unique combination of Black Sabbath during their experimental " Sabotage " years, 80's heavy metal, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. There are plenty of loud, jamming guitars, (courtesy of Zakk Wylde and Ward's songwriting partners Rue Phillips and Keith Lynch) and loud, pounding drums, but also a great deal of sound effects and special effects voices and keyboards and synthesizers. Ward himself takes lead vocal duties on most of the songs, and shares drumming duties with Eric Singer. Ward's drumming isn't what it used to be, but he seems to know it, which may explain why he lets Eric Singer drum on a few songs. The drumming really is not the point here, however, it's the songs, which are darn good. Bill Ward's singing isn't too bad either, though he uses a great deal of effects on his voice, either to add to the overall weirdness of the album or maybe because he wasn't too confident in his own singing ability. Ozzy takes lead vocal duties on " Bombers Can Open Bomb Bays " and on " Jack's Land ", while Jack Bruce sings (and helps write) the very soothing, melodic and peaceful " Light Up The Candles ".
I would say that the first half is much stronger than the second half. The album gets off to an incredibly strong start with " (Mobile) Shooting Gallery " . We hear synthesizers and ' special effects voices ' for the intro, then Bill sings this chant (which I think refers to the meds he was taking while in the hospital) " Ups downs reds whites continued over using, everything on lower shelf is guaranteed for self abusing ", with Marco Mendoza tossing in some bass inserts, then the guitars and drums come roaring in. This is a terrific, exciting progressive metal song and sets the tone, both musically and lyrically, for the rest of the album. After a brief, mellow musical interlude called " Short Stories " (on which Jack Bruce's son Malcolm plays piano), up comes another great track, " Bombers (Can Open Bomb Bays) ", another loud, aggressive 80's metal song, during which Ozzy gives one of his best vocal performances in years.
" Pink Clouds An Island " is an odd, but very good number, with three drummers on it and has Wylde getting in some very ' wild ' lead guitar playing. " Light Up The Candles " is one of the albums more quiet and peaceful numbers. Quite nice, actually, with a very strong vocal from Jack Bruce. " Snakes and Ladders " is a very heavy, progressive metal number and one of the srrongest tracks on the album.
The second half of the album (as I mentioned earlier) is not as good as the first half and gets a bit too weird at many times, but there are still some good music on it. The lyrics on this album deal with madness and other disturbing things and the cover shows Bill Ward dressed up in several disguises and is very much in line with the lyrics and the music on the album. I don't mean this in a bad way, but it seems like most of the words were written by Bill Ward while he was in the psych unit of a hospital, trying to kick his drinking problems.
The album ends on an unintentionally funny note with Bill Ward whistling and the saying " GOODBYE! ". A very strange ending for a very unique, wonderful album. DEFINITELY worth buying! Four and a half stars.