You're going to see your favorite band in concert and there's some group you've never heard of before opening the show. Here's the thing about most opening acts - they're just an inconvenience to get through before the act you came to see takes the stage. The thing for the opening band to remember is when they start, the audience is ready for a show, has high hopes and wants to be impressed. The band has exactly 5.25 seconds to accomplish this. If they're not hooked immediately, the audience could turn ugly.
Every once in a while you get a treat from the opener such as when Metallica opened for Ozzy or when Guns n Roses opened for an incredibly inebriated Aerosmith back in the day. But, mostly, the opening act is a friend of the headliner or has been added to the tour by the label to get the word out and push some record sales. Some bands will be forever opening acts and some move to the next level and become headliners.
That being said, I saw The Answer, a rock band from Northern Ireland, open for AC/DC a few years ago. The Answer has that "classic rock" sound which brings to mind Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and the Black Crowes. They're a good band, tight with a very palatable, comfortable sound. All of the elements are there; they walk the walk, they've got the style, they've got the "rock-ta-tude". Their songs are well constructed and they've got some good hooks. At the time, I felt they seemed to be missing that intangible something that takes a band from good to GREAT. Now, on to the album.
"New Horizon" is the name of the latest album from The Answer. My review of this album is best told as a description of the way I felt while listening.
Having heard The Answer previously (and, frankly, not being blown away) I was curious to hear their new album. Let's just say I was initially underwhelmed, but stick with me here. The album starts with the title track "New Horizon" which has a good sound but the vocals sounded a bit forced to me. The first song was just ok.
The second song, "Leave With Nothin'", was more of the same. It wasn't terrible but it just wasn't grabbing me the way a band who opened for AC/DC and has been around as long as The Answer should. Nice guitar leads but it left me feeling kind of... eh.
Ok, third track. This is the single and it's titled "Spectacular". It's your standard rock and roll song about the power of being young. "Spectacular" has some Robert Plant-esque vocals and a decent groove but, again, it just didn't do it for me.
I was to the point where I was trying to come up with a way to say "thanks but no thanks" about this album and then... track six, "Concrete", hit me like a ton of, well, concrete. It was like I was listening to a whole new band! It's heavier, it's got a great groove, the vocals light up. It's terrific.
Next up, track seven, "Call Yourself A Friend". It starts with a slow tempo, acoustic sound which made me a little nervous initially. Was "Concrete" a fluke? I feared I was in store for more songs like the first five tracks. Boy, was I wrong. The song builds and builds. The vocals become more confident. This song just got better and better. It rocks. It's got a very Zeppelin feel. Awesome!
The highlight of "New Horizon" for me was "Baby Kill Me". I love the lyrics, the music is solid and groovy. Great guitars. Again, it's like the lead singer woke up and joined in the fun. Freaking fantastic.
More awesomeness from the last two tracks "Burn You Down" and the final song "Scream A Louder Love". THIS is rock and roll.
I thought maybe it was just me. Maybe I was just in a bad mood or something while I was listening to the first half of this album so I quickly started it again from the beginning and, nope, it wasn't me. It's hard for me to explain what happened.
Is it just the way the songs were ordered on the CD? Were the band members having a series of bad days when they wrote the first five songs? I just don't know. What I do know is the second half of "New Horizon" is worth the price of the whole album. Listen to it for yourself. The first half isn't bad but I don't feel like it's great either. The second half of the album is GREAT. If The Answer can find their own answer and continue to create the same magic I found on the second half of "New Horizon" then soon THEY will be the headliners and AC/DC can open for them.