Fortunately for my health and well-being, I can report that they are indeed all of the above and the boys from Northern Ireland have provided an album full of cracking riffs, catchy tunes, and strong vocals.
Their influences are clearly from the sleazy end of the rock scene, but they can turn their hand to most things.
Out on Metalapolis Records, Big Red kicks off with a chugging riff and explodes into life with “All For One”. A great opener to get the juices flowing for the rest of the album. On this track all the members of the band manage to showcase their talents, which is a neat trick. Along with great riffs, guitarists Ryan Sebastian Balfour and Terry McHugh provide depth and a decent solo. Vocalist David Balfour starts in superb form, with power and feeling whilst bassist Richie Diver delivers a ripping bass break. Drummer Mike Ross maintains a powerful beat throughout.
The next song was always going to have a big job following the opener and so it proved with “Free” but it still has strong vocals and a quality solo.
Next up we have “The One”, which is a belter. It is foot-tapping and head-noddingly brilliant. The pace is romping on this almost anthemic song. Top stuff.
Maverick now take a trip to Sleaze Central with “Mademoiselle” which is straight out of the Skid Row songbook and David Balfour certainly has a hint of Seb Bach to his voice.
The big rocking “Forever” comes next and is threatening in its desire to get its point across. Very persuasive and I’m in!
“In The Night” is a bit of a strange one for me, the chorus is like Toto on steroids but then they pull out a Dave Murray solo and all is well in the world.
“Whiskey Lover” has simply got to be the highlight of the live sets they do. Rattling pace, riffing from heaven, beautiful solo and a break in the middle for us to clap our hands in. These boys know what they’re doing.
The same could really be said for “Beyond The Gates”, where Balfour shows his commitment and power but is ably supported by heavy riffing and complimentary soloing.
Another straight-between-the-eyes track follows, in “Asylum”. No nonsense rock, just the way we like it. Big vocals and top drawer guitar licks are the order of the day.
After almost 40 minutes of feeling beaten up (in a pleasurable way, of course) we conclude with the only ballad of Big Red. “Fly Away” is an emotional acoustic track about loss which has the directly opposite feel of the rest of the album but is somehow very fitting at the same time.
Big Red is a quality album by this young Irish band who have given us a great example of hard rock at its best and long may it continue.
As I write this, Mike Ross will be playing his final show for Maverick before leaving for the USA. Best wishes to him and we can only hope that his replacement is half the drummer he is.