Overload | review

For more than a decade, Harem Scarem has been cranking out Pop-infused Hard Rock in their homeland in the Northern Hemisphere. Other Canadian imports are long-time favorites Rush and Triumph, not to mention the great Bob and Doug McKenzie. Yet despite a lengthy run in Canada, Harem Scarem has yet to become a mainstay in the world of Metaldom. Certainly this band shouldn't be left to the outlands of obscurity where their fellow countrymen Killer Dwarfs and Helix have seemed to flounder.

With their latest release, Overload, the world may finally take notice of the talents that Harry Hess and company bring to the table. Hess is a strong vocalist who may remind you of a cross between Gary Cherone and a ballsy Kip Winger. When you combine his great singing with his strong sense of melody and catchy hook-laden tunes, you can hear the potential for this disc to be a huge success.

Pete Lesperance's guitar work adds a lot of texture to this album. Where most of the songs are written as straightforward AOR numbers, Pete adds some interesting tones with surprising dynamics to keep the sound fresh. Lesparance shows his maturity as a songwriter by using his guitar as an enhancement to the songs, as opposed to just running away with a flurry of notes and overpowering riffs. The solid bass playing of Barry Donaghy and some tight drumming by Creighton Doane give Overload a solid foundation. Darren Smith was brought on board to help thicken the backing vocals. Everyone sings except for Doane; creating moments that are reminiscent of old Queen.

On the Harem Scarem Web page, both Hess and Lesperance list members of Extreme as influences, and it shows. Overload sounds like it could have been written by Extreme somewhere in-between their debut self-titled release and their multi-platinum selling Pornograffitti. That's not to say Harem Scarem is an Extreme clone, but they do show a penchant for strong vocal melody with rich and interesting guitars; wrapped in a Pop/Rock super-hits package.

Overload is a solid release from a band that has more than paid its dues. It is an album filled with radio-friendly, mid-tempo rockers and gratuitous ballads that do a superior job of bridging the 1980's to the 21st Century. For those who like to be able to sing along with their Rock, this is a "must get" for your collection.

Review by Jeremy Juliano
Originally posted at metalexpressradio.com