Overload | review

Comments: "When you listen to this recording I think you'll agree that in 2005 we've bridged the gap between past and present," said Harry Hess, singer for Harem Scarem about their new release, Overload. In other words, this doesn't sound like Harem Scarem in a lot of ways... but like everything Harem Scarem does, Overload excels anyway.
"Dagger," a song that you could easily hear on modern rock radio today — alongside bands like Nickleback, 3 Doors Down or even the new Papa Roach — is a surprise. This isn't the melodic band that we are used to hearing. It's noisy, heavy, and Hess actually yells the chorus more than he sings it, something the band just doesn't often do. While the interlude before the solo is a softer part, the chorus kicks in again and Hess sounds extremely pissed off. While this may not be what you expect from these Canadians, you have to admit it rocks.
They get back to what we are used to on "Afterglow," a song still written with baritone guitars and just NOISE in mind, but Hess sings with his typical melodic brilliance. In fact, if you can think of one singer in the whole industry who is more underrated than Hess, well, you'd be wrong.
The odd thing about this album is that you wonder if this is really what they were going for. Did they enter the studio with the express goal to sound like all of the bands they have probably influenced through the years and are now being influenced by? Yeah, confusing...
The next two songs, "Rise and Fall," and "Don't Come Easy," are just better than anything you'll hear by those aforementioned bands. They can't write as well as Harem Scarem, and they obviously don't have the wealth of experience this band can draw from. But hearing Hess yell with an odd, sometimes Cobain-like edge to his voice will trip some people up.

The band gets back to more of what they are known for on "Can't Live With You," a slower, more plodding and melodic track, highlighting Hess' uncanny vocals. The guitars by Pete Lesperance show a little more diversity in this track compared to the others, since he changes pace succinctly and does more than sort of riff his way through, like on the earlier tracks. The bass playing by Barry Donaghy steers this song along, sort of an understated highlight.
There really isn't a bad song on this CD. You won't be able to pick anything apart, and each track is a little different than what fans are used to. Songs like "Understand Me," show us that they didn't veer too far off path, though, another moody and sincere semi-ballad. The backing vocals are something to marvel at on this one as well.
Harem Scarem, for some reason, is not mentioned alongside the big boys in the melodic rock genre. While Overload will probably not bring them into the spotlight, you can tell they had a great time making this CD, and it is the most aggressive thing we've heard from them in a long, long time. Can't knock the guys for trying something different, especially when they succeed like they do here.

Review by Derric Miller
Originally posted at hardrockhaven.net