Thursday, 15 December 2011

Muggin's Top 20 Of 2011- No's 5-4

No.5-The Answer- Revival

    In the last couple of years classic rock has had a real resurgence in popularity, all of a sudden classic bands are being fully embraced by younger fans, and newer bands are showing their love for those of yore with an influx of classic sounding bands. Northern Ireland’s The Answer are at least very near the top of that pile (if not right up at the top). Both the bands previous albums, Rise and Everyday Demons were received very well; both had excellent, catchy, hooky songs which had you tapping and drinking away with glee. Revival stylistically is much of the same, it just seems to have targeted the word Classic, because that is what Revival is very close to being, a true vintage sounding rock gem.

    The time spent with previous touring buddies AC/DC seems to have taught these guys a few tricks because the jump in quality from the already impressive Everyday Demons to this is staggering. Other than a hint of AC/DC influence popping up here and there and a more obvious blues rock sound,  there is very little different about this album; it is simply just done at a much greater quality. The song writing has improved massively, each song has a unique identity and stands on its own out right as a possible highlight.

    Paul Mahon especially puts in a tremendous performance on guitar, jumping between the subtle and the showy but not OTT with ease and style, and front man Cormac Neeson once again shows his skill as a story-teller in the ilk of Phil Lynott, and equally as great a voice. Even with several months to go until the sun does come out once again, Revival will definitely be being played by me during the BBQ months with a cold pint or two in hand. If you don’t find yourself with a massive grin on your mug and singing at the top of your voice to this I would seriously get checked up. The one remotely unmemorable track ‘Destroy Me’ prevents this from being perfect, but Revival is still a joyous, simple but brilliant rock album. Can it be summer yet please?

Listen To: Nowhere Freeway, Vida (I Want You), Caught On The Riverbed

No.4- Machine Head- Unto The Locust

    Following the undeniable modern classic The Blackening was always going to take a staggering effort against the odds, and whatever came next was going to have THAT album hanging over it and Machine Head gave it the very best shot, sadly Unto The Locust does not top The Blackening. It comes very, VERY close to matching it however, and that is no small feat either.

    Unto The Locust is an album that you can instantly tell that the band have poured their heart and soul in to in order to make the best album they can. They could have easily just attempted to make The Blackening Mark II, but instead Machine Head have decided to try some new things out, and make Unto The Locust its own beast. There is such a lot going on in places, with new tricks that were maybe not expected from Machine Head, the use of child vocal chants and acoustic guitar licks being a couple of examples, yet these new experimentations seem entirely natural. There is a definite progressive element to this album, along with the long track running times of all the 5 minute mark, this is the most challenging of Machine Head releases and does take several listens to fully grasp, but once you have you will not be disappointed.

    Robb Flynn especially excels himself with some of his strongest, most reflective and relatable lyrics to date. Prime example of this is the half acoustic number ‘The Darkness Within’, which is a very reflective song about music and his relation to his art which is very touching (although the song itself for me is dependent on my mood). The typical Machine Head style anthems are plentiful here too, from ‘I Am Hell [Sonata in C#]’ through ‘Be Still And Know’ to ‘Pearls Before The Swine’, there is plenty here for the typical fan, but with enough extras to fully explore. Unto The Locust is a tremendous effort and one of the major releases of the year period.

Listen To: I Am Hell [Sonata in C#], Be Still And Know, Locust

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