FOR some time The Answer have been bubbling under the mainstream media’s radar – loved by many, adored by many more they have attracted a cult status many a hard rock act envies;and they have always provided full-on hard rockin’ blues both live and on recorded offerings.
We checked our iTunes account when checking out their latest release ‘Raise A Little Hell’ to find we have six and a half hours of tunes from one of the UK’s premier hard rock acts.
A bold statement to say The Answer is amongst the hard rock luminaries in the UK? Not bold enough. For years they have developed, grown and matured in the full glare of an indifferent media and the full adoration of their fan base.
Last time out their ‘New Horizons’ release was given a contemporary kick up the ass by Toby Jepson’s production, but how could they match that after re-signing to Napalm Records?
To put it simply they have embraced the lessons learned from that release, taken them on board and wrapped it in their rock and blues roots for ‘Raising A Little Hell’ to produce a balanced, mature and balls out rocking release.
From the defiant opener ‘Long Live The Renegades’ through to the poignant ‘Strange Kinda Nothing’ this is an album that showcases not just the band’s abilities, but their honesty; and their sense of what transforms a good track to a great track.
Cormac’s voices oozes soothing charm and heartache; while Paul seems to have relished the chance to yet again explore hard rock and blues (the acoustic work on the aforementioned ‘Strange Kinda Nothing’ is under-stated excellence).
‘Cigarettes and Regrets’ is amongst the many stand-out tracks – a track that on its own makes it worth the purchase of the album as the quartet meld together in a manner that many wish to achieve.
But, the lessons of ‘New Horizons’ more contemporary feel have not been lost to the band despite this ‘return to roots’ approach. ‘I Am What I Am’ is a strident rocker of a tune, with Mickey and James nailed down together behind Paul’s insistent riffing.
But to get a real sense of The Answer’s development check out ‘Whiplash’ – a revelatory track, full of passion, nicely judged in tempo and riffs. A real gem.
But while ‘Whiplash’ extols the rockier elements of The Answer ‘Gone Too Long’ has the heart melting sense of the blues wrapped up in rock, while ‘Red’ is just blues rock at its best and ‘I Am Cured’ harkens back to the sound of ‘Rise’ in its arrangements and playing; and that isn’t a step backwards, just an acknowledgement of where the band have come from.
Closer and title track ‘Raise A Little Hell’ broods and stalks the listener with a mixture of heaviness and melody in a mid-tempo killer of a track.
How The Answer have passed under the radar of the biggest radio stations, the biggest magazines and world domination is a mystery. On the evidence of ‘Raise A Little Hell’ the major music outlets should be clamouring to hang on their every word, every riff, every drum beat, every bass line and every song.
But, to those that have followed their career to date this is an affirmation of the adoration the County Down rockers deserve – and when it comes to their UK tour in March they can be assured that they’ll find the devotees down the front in full voice.Raise A Little Hell is released on Napalm Records on 9th March The Answer play Exeter Lemon Grove on 27th March
Review by Jonny