(THE PICKET) – For my first review, I wasn’t entirely sure what to cover, so I went to rateyourmusic.com and typed in a genre I hold dear, hard rock. I then fine-tuned my search to albums released in 2015, figuring I should take on something contemporary before moving on to the greats of the genre. I love guitars turned up to 11 and thundering drums, so I decided to tell you about Northern Ireland-based The Answer’s Raise A Little Hell. The title might as well be rock ‘n’ roll in a nutshell, so here we go.
This band has been compared to AC/DC in the past, and I can see it on Raise A Little Hell’s opening track, “Long Live the Renegades”, but the guitars aren’t as reminiscent of a buzzsaw, as Angus Young’s riffs often are. And besides, Phil Mahon’s solos, or at least his effort on the opener, remind me more of 1980s glam metal guitarists, with their theatrics and bombast, than anything Young and his no-frills bluesy playing would ever dare. “The Other Side”’s main draw is its pulverizing riff, as well as some chorus-craft that reminds me of mid-1970s heavy metal outfit Rainbow in a way, which is no faint praise considering Rainbow were fronted by Ronnie James Dio, one of the greatest front men the genre has ever seen. “Aristocrat” sees more stellar guitar work from Mahon, which is a good sign for the album as a whole, as a rock band’s main draw is its guitarist, no matter what the singer and his ego may tell you. Jimi Hendrix couldn’t sing for his life, and he’s still a rock ‘n’ roll legend. Not to detract from a singer’s status, or that of Answer vocalist Cormac Neeson, after all, I’ve just spoken in glowing terms about Dio, but unless you are someone like Ronnie James Dio or Freddie Mercury, the guitar is front and center.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a steady diet of no-frills rock recently, but “Cigarettes & Regret” is a bit too country in the verses for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love country, but these verses sound a bit too Nashville-radio for me. The chorus is a welcome return to form though, as is, of course, Mahon’s solo. Do I detect some wah-wah pedal? Probably, it wouldn’t surprise me. “Last Days of Summer” is a typical rocker, one that isn’t too noteworthy but I like anyway. The acoustic part in “Strange Kinda’ Nothing” sounds like it was written for a commercial, like it should be imploring me to rent a car or ask my doctor of this prescription drug or that is right for me, and it’s really killing the vibe I’d gotten from the rest of the album. “I Am What I Am” brings it all back to normal though, as Mahon’s guitar is possibly the most Angus Young-esque it’s been all night. “Whiplash” continues the trend, and “Gone Too Long” has some nice backing vocals singing the title, as well as more par-for-the-course blistering guitar from Mahon.
“Red” has some nice interplay between the guitar and the vocals, but “I Am Cured” is a slight drop just due to sheer lack of remarkability. Raise A Little Hell ends with a solid eponymous track with a nice harmonica part, and there you have it. If you’re looking for a bluesy throwback to pummel you with fuzzy guitar, look no further. The album cover is absolutely ridiculous, though, but that’s no sin. Four stars out of five.
Mike Morris is a practicum writer for The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @adelelcoolj.