Most people know I love my prog rock and prog metal, hell my monicker even spells it out, Progradar. Every now and then, though, I like to listen to some simple balls out rock n’ roll, blues tinged heavy rock without any complications. Northern Ireland’s The Answer have often provided this change from the norm for me, music that is the equivalent to sticking your finger in a socket and having 240 volts shoot through your system, knockout stuff!
Comprising the highly distinctive voice of Cormac Neeson and the guitar genius of Paul Mahon, The Answer complete their line up with Michael Waters on bass and the pounding drums of james Heatley. A quick bit of background sees The Answer release their debut album, Rise, in 2006 and follow it up with Everyday Demons two years later, both albums chock full of belting hard rock and roll tunes along with some stand out anthemic tracks. In 2011 The Answer released their most complete and complex album to date, Revival, which still has a heralded place on my walkman today. Let me tell you, New Horizon will have to go some to top that blues tinged rock n’ roll behemoth. Ex Little Angels frontman, Toby Jepson has joined forces with The Answer to give a more electrifying sound to their their latest sonic offering.
The title track, New Horizon, kicks in with a simply epic riff, hard and heavy guitar is the theme running throughout the track. Cormac’s voice simply screams smoky bars and malt whiskey (although one is now banned and the other we are asked to drink sensibly), one of the more distinctive voices in modern heavy rock. An in your face chorus and short, but very sweet, guitar solo complete what is a brilliant opening track, leaving you hoping that the best hasn’t come first, it’s that good a song. Leave With Nothin’ starts a bit low key in comparison, a more rhythmic guitar leading us up to another strong chorus where the guitar kicks in with a much more heavy tinge. It is a good track in its own right but pales some in comparison to the gigantic opening track, another strong vocal performance from Cormac Neeson helping to lift it out of the ordinary. A fast paced guitar lick fires us into Spectacular, a fist pumping tune that has you toe tapping and singing along to the simple but effective chorus. This is a real upbeat rock n’ roll anthem and is uniquely The Answer, hints of all their previous albums dumped into the heavy rock melting pot. We have a slow grinding middle section lit up by Paul Mahon’s corking guitar before we fly off with the chorus again and head to the thunderous conclusion. Up next on this rock n’ roll rollercoaster is the brilliant slow burning menace of Speak Now. To me, there is a strong hint of Led Zeppelin about this track, soulful vocals backed up with low down, gut wrenching guitar sound that runs right through you, especially in the short, hard edged guitar break and solo in the middle of the song. There is a heartfelt vibe throughout this song, an excellent blues tinged and soulful, slow rocker.
Somebody Else lifts the mood a tad, a nice, light guitar underlaying the vocals before the guitar crunches in along with another simple but effective chorus, nothing new here but done very well, a vocal break slowing it down before we hitch up and ride off into the chorus again and rock the track out. Hang on, is this a Cult album?, you may think so after the hard crunching, rifftastic opening to Concrete, this song is a complete and utter, ballsy, blues heavy piece of rock n’ roll. Epic guitar and soulful vocals combine to produce the second stand out track on the album after the opener, a majestic slice of ferocious hard ‘n heavy rock from start to finish. The mood is ratcheted way back for the seriously Zeppelinesque Call Yourself A Friend. A gentle, vocal heavy intro starts us before the slow burning track ignites as we hit the suitably anthemic chorus, Cormac’s voice soaring up into the heights, blending perfectly with the crunching guitar sound. The musicians are given a free rein towards the end of the track, like an improvised jam that works. After the intensity and vibrancy of the previous two tracks, Baby Kill Me seems a bit formulaic and is the weakest track on the album, not a bad song in any way just lacking the punch and style of the other songs, only lifted slightly by a nice, but too short, guitar solo in the middle. Not happy with the previous track sir? Well, try this hit to the solar plexus then! Burn You Down, to put it simply, rocks and rocks ferociously. A really heavy, hard edged guitar sound backing the great, purely rock and roll, vocals. A seriously short but catchy, sing along, chorus and solo hitting you hard where it hurts. This song is the rock equivalent of 3 rounds with Mike Tyson, short, hard and heavy! Scream A Louder Love is a relatively ballsy, rocked out final track that just seems to lack the hard edged intensity of the better tracks on the album. Vocals and guitar are present and correct, the chorus is in place but there appears to be something missing.
So, does New Horizon carry on where Revival finished and take The Answer further on their journey to the stratosphere of rock n’ roll? The simple answer is a resounding yes, the couple of weak tracks not detracting from the all round, hard edged, heavy vibe. It is heavier and more intense than Revival and I really enjoyed the album, it will rock my walkman for some time to come.