Overload | review

I think one would be hard pressed to name a band that has carried the torch for the melodic rock community better over the last 10 years than HAREM SCAREM. Overload will be the 10th studio release for the Canadians, and from the albums that I have heard they rarely let their audience down. 2003's Higher was one of the years high points, and album that got better with every listen and probably deserved a little better than the 7 I gave it at the time. Since that album three of the bands members have released solo projects that have been well received by critics.
Overload shows a level of maturity that few bands can even hope to strive for, that maturity is achieved through a more minimalistic style than I have heard the band produce before. The keyboards have been all but eliminated this time around, and that is a plus in my book. Essentially that places more of an onus on the vocal talents of Harry Hess, and that can never be a bad thing. The man may just have the prototypical set of pipes for this style, much like Lou Gramm, Jon Bon Jovi or Joe Lynn Turner once did. Maybe I should leave Turner out of that trio considering how great his new album is. The second thing I noticed about Overload is how down tuned the guitars of Pete Lesperance are this time around. Again though, this is a welcome change that shows the band is willing to tinker with a proven formula from time to time. Because the style is slightly different and arrangements are often more sparse it took a dozen or so spins before I was able to feel good about the album.

It took that many listens before songs like "Dagger" "Afterglow" "Rise and Fall" "Don't Come Easy" and "Forgive and Forget" really grew on me. Grow on me they did though, and combined with some smartly crafted ballads like "Can't Live Without You" and "All You're Getting" and you have an album that I feel ranks as one of the better the band has created. My only real complaint is that they have a couple too many ballads towards the end, but that is a trait that just about every band from this genre falls prey to.
PITRIFF RATING - 8/10 - I would place Overload right there with new albums from GOTTHARD and Joe Lynn Turner as the best melodic rock albums of 2005 so far. With ten albums under their belts it would have been easy to just make a carbon copy of Higher, but they take just enough chances to make it worth the time. Harry Hess has a voice that more people should know about, his talents alone probably gets the bands album and extra point or two.

Review by Shawn Gould
Originally posted at pitriff.com