"Accountable Beasts", BLACK SABBATH drummer Bill Ward's first solo album in 18 years, has just been released via iTunes. The CD features Ward's drumming on seven of the album's nine tracks, as well as contributions from Bill's longtime collaborators Keith Lynch (guitar, keyboards), Paul Ill (bass) and Ronnie Ciago (drums), alongside drummer Walter Earl and an array of session singers, including Ward's daughter Emily.
The track listing for the effort is as follows:
01. Leaf Killers
02. Accountable Beasts
03. Katastrophic World
05. First Day Back
06. As It Is In Heaven
09. The Wall Of Death
In a recent interview with music writer Joel Gausten, Ward stated about how "Accountable Beasts" compares to Ward's 1990 solo debut, "Ward One: Along The Way", and 1997's "When The Bough Breaks": "It's much tougher; it kicks harder. Most of the stuff is pretty heavy on it. It's very current lyrically."
He continued: "I don't intend to be current with anything; I just write the music and allow it to just be whatever it is. But when I listened to it in hindsight — we did the final mastering on January 6 of this year — I thought, 'Oh my God! A lot of the stuff we're writing about is on TV every day.
"Most of [the album] is about religion; most of it's about war. It's the stuff that makes the world turn 'round every day. It's about people's souls being ripped to pieces. I guess it could be called morbid, but at the same time I'm also hoping it can be called energizing and respectful lyrically. I've worked really hard on trying to produce something that would mean something to the listener who's drawn in by the music."
Ward added: "We got pretty crazy on this one. We just played; it was like, 'Fuck everything.' I wanted to go back to a place that I really know well, and that's playing hard."
Ward began work on "Accountable Beasts" around 2008 when he sought a creative way to take a breather from "Beyond Aston", the solo album he has worked on in bits and pieces since the late '90s.
"I tried to do something really stupid," he told Joel Gausten. "I tried to go, 'You know what? Let's keep ['Beyond Aston'] on hold and let's just put out something quick now.' It had been a while, and I thought, 'This is taking a long time; let's just do a quick album.'”
He continued: "I don't always have a huge budget to do these things, so we do it piecemeal. What I thought was going to be a relatively quick album [to] just get it out there to the public turned out to be nothing like that... I spent a year with BLACK SABBATH in 2011; I spent half of 2012 waiting to see what BLACK SABBATH might want to do in case they changed their minds. I re-kickstarted the finalization of 'Accountable Beasts' in May of 2013. It took another while to get the final mixes — and, of course, it didn't help with me getting sick. I lost about five months."
Ward added: "While we're going through this process of trying to make music, times change — but so do electronics, hard drives [and] digital inputs. We [were] looking around and going, 'Oh my God! A lot of the things we started out with are all obsolete!'
"One of the biggest things I realized is that most people listen to music on earbuds. I was still laboring under the impression that people were going to be listening to this thing on speakers! It dawned on me that we would have to change all the mixes to an earbud mix.
"In the fall of 2014, I earbud-mixed every single track on 'Accountable Beasts'; we went through everything again until we go it working in the earbud so it will hopefully sound good to the listener from an earbud point of view. I picked up some earbuds for about $25, and we did the entire album on $25 earbuds... That 'quick album' turned out to be an excursion for, what, six years?"
Ward insisted in a recent interview with Rolling Stone that he is "quite capable" of playing a full concert with BLACK SABBATH, despite the band members themselves saying the opposite. Ward stepped away from the SABBATH reunion in early 2012, while the group hinted that he was not in good enough physical shape to either record or tour.
Addressing singer Ozzy Osbourne's claim that he was "incredibly overweight," Ward responded, "The truth is that I was overweight for playing onstage, but I wasn't overweight for the studio. I could cut tracks with the weight that I arrived at. All of those guys know that I have a really rigorous exercise regimen."
Ward did reveal his terms for a "signable" contract with SABBATH, saying, "I wanted to earn some better money than we had been (paid) in the past for festival gigs. I think it was somewhere like $80,000 for the festivals, which I can hear everybody gasp now, but $80,000 is not a lot of dough when you're playing festivals."
The drummer said he also wanted to receive some publishing money from the group as well as a "secure contract" for the use of his name and likeness.
Asked if he was still legally a member of SABBATH, Ward said, "I wonder myself actually. I don't know. I'd probably have to ask my legal department. [Laughs] I'm actually not sure."