Album review – The Answer – Solas
By ANDREW McKAYSMITH
NORTHERN Ireland’s The Answer have been around for a while now. Jimmy Page has expressed his fondness for the band and it’s easy to see why.
The album’s eponymous first track starts with the Zeppelin-like feel of James Heatley’s bass drum and Tom exchange before Micky Water’s bass kicks in with a driving dirge – the Flesh on metal tone of the bass line giving way to soaring vocals announcing the bands intent early.
“Beautiful World” starts slow then builds through an ascending vocal complemented by a guitar lead that could have been penned by Martin Gore of Depeche Mode. Vocalist Cormac Neeson painfully lament’s that “(I) can’t remember, how it used to be in my beautiful world”. “Battle Cry” sounds like a stadium rock version of a long lost Mumford and Sons tune – and someone has certainly impressed Cormac as he sings “You are an anthem on the radio” among other plaudits. “Untrue Colour” uses a laid-back hard-rock riff which allows the vocal to define a memorable chorus.
The next quintet of songs is where the band truly shines; this is where the album feels like it’s become far more than the sum of its parts. “In This Land” could almost be a tribute to the lads’ fair isle. Cormac sings “In this land of heroes, criminals and stars” , both “(Van) Morrison got lucky” and that “(Rory) Gallagher’s no sinner”. Next track “Thief Of Light” feels like a hymn, an almost religious feeling is present.
Seventh track “Being Begotten” offers a significant change of pace, this is the audio equivalent of diesel fumes rising from hot asphalt under a blazing sun- Paul Mahon’s guitar slide’s across grains of sand and dehydrated dirt before building to a crescendo at the outro. “Left Me Standing” opens with a Judas Priest-style twin lead guitar lick; it feels like a biker gliding across a highway in the previous songs desert-scape. Rounding out the quintet is the ninth track “Demon Driven Man” – Cormac pines that the songs subject has “…got demons, man” in the same manner a southern fried snake charmer offers the promise of redemption to a sinning flock.
“Real Life Dreamers” is a solid rock number with a riff similar to the Shihad track “Pacifier”. Cormac’s vocal strains are complimented by the myrrh of a Southern Belle. The album proper concludes with “Tunnel”, a Cat Stevens inspired tune. Proceedings are rounded out by some bonus tracks including a faithful cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money”.
The album has clearly been painstakingly recorded; every riff, tone, and instrument clearly defined for a unique place in each song. For rock fans of all persuasions Solas does not disappoint.