The Answer – Solas
Ten years ago Northern Irish rockers The Answer released their debut album Rise. It was one of the finest examples of Zeppelin-esque blues rock for a very long time. Though they have consistently put out plenty of hard rocking hits since then they have never been able to match their debut. The band have clearly sensed that they were stuck in the doldrums and have hit back with their most diverse and purposeful album to date. The band feel revitalised and are reborn as a more mature and sophisticated outfit. If we were to continue the Zeppelin comparisons then this would hold up well against their third album; both explore a new direction but keep enough of the usual fare to please old fans. The other notable similarity is the amount of surprisingly brilliant folk music.
Many of the highlights of Solas boast some gorgeous acoustic arrangements. ‘Thief of Light’ has a mellow ethereal vibe like a fine mist over the rolling hills, one of their stellar b sides from years gone by ‘Battle Cry’ has been reimagined as a foot stomping gaelic anthem and the powerful ‘Tunnel’ closes the album in style. The real talking points of Solas however are it’s first two songs. The title track carries a dark and sinister vibe that wouldn’t sound amiss coming from Tool and the opening Eastern influences of ‘Beautiful World’ gives way to one of the most impressive rock performances of the year. In these moments The Answer sound possessed, as though they are an entirely different band. Nothing would delight me more than for them to delve even deeper into their experimental side, but for the moment they can be proud to have created the best album of their career thus far.