We live in a time where there is a ‘dubstep’ remix for everything, metal has about five million sub genres, and then that we are being force-fed mass-produced disposable songs on the radio that no one will remember three months after their release. I think sometimes we forget or leave behind the very essence that was the building blocks of what we listen to today. One of these building blocks is nothing more than straight-up “rock” or even good old fashion “blues”. Something straight-up, in-your-face with a driving forceful rhythm that makes me start tapping my feet or hitting a table in time with the beat. The sort of bands that were to play at festivals around 4pm to get the crowd in that perfect happy and upbeat mood before the main acts.
This brings me to a band that I have had stuck in my head all this week. This straight-up band with drive and hint of blues is Northern Ireland’s THE ANSWER and their new album titled NEW HORIZON. The album was produced by world-renowned producer/Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson. Together this alliance has joined talents and created a piece of work which will infect your brain with feelgood music.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with these rockers, the band was formed in 2000 by guitarist Paul Mahon. The band also consists of frontman Cormac Neeson, bassist Micky Waters and drummer James Heatley. Until now, the band has been cutting against the grain and battling against all odds with various small time releases. Over the years, one can get that they have remained as positive and persistent as possible. As a direct result of their unending persistence and passion for their art, they have landed themselves in the spotlight, and have managed to do some pretty impressive tours, performing low-key intermittent shows with Deep Purple, and touring with Australia’s own AC/DC. The band has clearly has had its ups and downs since driving their way onto the music scene after the promises of early success.
Now to get down to business, THE ANSWER‘s fourth studio album is definitely a credit to all four boys, as they all hold their own on the album and make their presence felt. It’s an extremely catchy album with a flow that will demand the attention of your ears and not let you go until the album is done. The uplifting mix of straight-up rock and blues that it supplies you with makes me want to get a keg of beer and invite a lot of people I don’t know over, have a party in my back yard and carry on like those clowns that are pretending to have fun in country music videos. Cormac Neeson‘s vocals and lyrics lift you up and makes you want to attempt to do that shriek he so perfectly bursts out with throughout the album. Just about every song will have you singing each chorus word-for-word and you will be imagining a crowd behind you doing the same. Combine a perfect groove sensation on bass, the driving beats that show bugger all sensitivity, and catchy riffs that will have you doing air guitar while walking around on a heavily populated street listening to your mp3 device. You will not have a choice but to bop your head to this recording.
The title track makes promises straight from the beginning, but it delivers. This is an experienced band that has been around the block for a while now and they really show it with this song and the rest of the cd. It just has everything, from screaming guitar solos to absolutely massive bass, driving rhythm and choruses that will pump you up and embrace every note and every word. Every song is a sing-along with a slightly different touch as you move throughout the album. At first you will think you are listening to some sort of 80’s hair metal, however before too long you will be listening to a serious blues rock tune, then the chefs merge in other ingredients and POW! you’ve got some straight up hard rock. The album possesses an almost-perfect groovy mood, but it’s not all sunshine and lollipops for these guys. They do possess something from inside that’s on the darker side, which is definitely predominant throughout some of the lyrics and moods created by these experienced musicians. If there is a theme I can pick up, they’re definitely a band that has been around a while, and maybe sick of not getting the recognition they deserve. Everyone has their own interpretation of the music and lyrics. That’s one of the things that makes this stuff such an emotion-filled art form right?
I think most people when listening to this long-awaited recording, they will find themselves guessing what comes next musically, and I believe that 99% of you will get it right. The structure of each song is terrifyingly typical. I believe a lot of people will refer to it as cliché. However as outrageously cliché this ten track composition may be, it’s still a good listen. As far as I am concerned, if being cliché is the only real bit of ammo I can scrape from my armory to launch against these lads of the Emerald Island, they are indeed doing well. I think we need it some times. New Horizons still has some sort of versatility, from happy and chirpy to a bit on the darker side, which is a lot more than some bands count as one of their qualities.
For some reason when I listen to these guys I think of another fantastic band named Clutch, which in no way shape or form is a bad thing. In closing I would like to say this particularly ear-grabbing release is unbelievably catchy, and you will find it a losing battle to try to not sing along to this, or to get it out of your head. These Irish lads have quite obviously been doing what they do for a very long time and it shows how confident they are with it in their playing style. They’re so confident the mood is contagious.