Psycho Ward – Committed (Battlegod Productions)

Wednesday, 10th January 2024
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Although Psycho Ward may be a relative newcomer as an act, these musicians possess veteran skills that can’t be taken for granted. Spanish guitarist Miguel Angel Lopez Escamez has been a part of chart-topping domestic acts, also playing on recordings with Rowan Robertson and Edge of the Blade – while vocalist John ‘Wardi’ Ward moved to LA from the UK during the 1980’s, being a part of Madam X, Hurricane, and Shame. After the grunge scene took over, he moved back to Europe and was a part of the Oliver Dawson Saxon lineup from 2000-2011. Committed is the latest album for the quartet – an eleven-track affair full of classic heavy metal traditionalism qualities, featuring anthems of action-packed driving riffs, endearing melodies, plus rock solid rhythm section anchors that steer the ship safely to shore.

Natural driving chord progressions next to scorching lead play takes on that 80’s American/ European metal sheen – occasionally featuring some beefy bass play from Gonso while the supplementary chorus vocal harmonies drill deep the key melodies. John’s delivery straddles the raspy playfulness of the Sunset Strip/sleaze period of the 80’s yet has that bluesy resonance to be very convincing, especially evident in a seductive outing like “Chinese Whispers”. Tough as steel rhythms against steady drumming from Tony Montana puts “Crazy Angel” into that early Loudness meets Judas Priest landscape, Miguel circling the arrangement with a steady supply of ripping riffs beyond his neoclassical divebomb to shred break passages. Even a slower track like “Sleepwell” contains Gary Moore-esque qualities as the song shifts between thoughtful soloing, an addictive vocal presence, as well as uplifting moments in the bridge that should make audiences rise as one. These gentlemen possess superior knowledge/experience of the style, grabbing every ounce of energy to squeeze out addictive songs that recall even early Lizzy Borden for “Celebrate” or “What Am I Doing Wrong”.

The cover art for Committed has that shock/awe quality for intrigue – reflective of the contents inside. Psycho Ward may be a band for the 2020’s, but their hearts, roots, and execution lie instinctual in the 80’s/early 90’s scene for classic metal with bluesy hard rock manifestations. This is a group to keep your eyes on, an energetic launching pad for a fruitful, worthwhile discography to come.

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