It’s a sobering thought that The Answer are now in their 15th year. Their debut album “Rise” got them a considerable amount of praise, including newcomer of the year in one particular rock magazine. Listening to this, their 5th release, it’s quite clear they have tightened up their sound and songwriting for a more direct approach. No doubt supporting AC/DC for two years has had some influence and in my opinion they are all the better for it.
So it’s no surprise that “Raise A Little Hell” has some quality rock anthems, stripped back and simplified with many singalong choruses, which brings to mind Kiss with ‘Long Live the Renegades’, a Mötley Crüe-style rouser in ‘Red’ and latter-day AC/DC in ‘I Am What I Am’. They also effectively add some funk to the rock with the Chickenfoot influenced ‘Aristocrat’, while the closing title track combines slowed down groove swagger with harmonica and quite possibly the catchiest chorus of the album. What is clear is the rather fine production, which is crisp and punchy and like the songs themselves, leaving not a trace of fat.
But it’s pleasing to say there is lot more besides only good, fun hard rock (though there’s nothing wrong with that) as they show depth and intelligence with a positive take on meeting lost loved ones again in ‘The Other Side’, and ‘Strange Kinda Nothing’, a well-crafted slow acoustic track which avoids rock ballad cliche in the same way The Temperance Movement did with ‘Pride’. The variety of styles continues with the heavy rock blues of ‘I Am Cured’, a successful return to their debut album’s blues number ‘Preachin’, while the sorrowful but masterly ‘Last Days of Summer’ has a ring of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Four Sticks’ about it.
Special mention should go to Cormac Neeson’s vocals as he is on great form, mixing a variety of different delivery styles intelligently. But it’s a team effort and there is some nifty guitar work by Paul Mahon, all held together with the tight rhythm section of Micky Waters and James Heatley.
“Raise A Little Hell” is an immensely likeable and enjoyable hard rock album with a broad range of styles all within the classic rock sound. Many of the tracks could, and should, become main staples to their live set. The Answer, in my opinion, have produced their most complete album to date.