Overload | review

I have to admit never having heard any material by this Canadian Melodic Hard Rock quartet before, and so I had to rely on the biography accompanying the promo copy. Luckily, that includes a couple of short citations from the band's lead singer/ keyboardist/ guitarist Harry Hess.So, here's for a couple of facts first : this is the band's 10 th studio release; in the early days the band played high quality Poser Rock; "Mood Swings" is considered by many to be the band's best Melodic Rock album; they've ventured into a slightly Progressive mode with the album "Voice Of Reason", but were also successful in Power Pop [in short, the band always surprised their fans with new ideas from one album to the following. No album sounds like the other, but due to Hess' distinctive vocals and the harmonic guitar playing of Pete Lesperance (also does keyboards & backing vocals) the unique style of Harem Scarem is always recognizable]; the band split for a couple of years, and made their comeback with 2002's "Weight Of The World" (meantime, their label also released the "Live At The Gods" CD and DVD (2002), a compilation of earlier material with 2003's "The Early Years", and a follow-up to the comeback release with "Higher" in September 2003). Thus far for the history bit. As far as the music goes, Hess states that the album "...includes moments of classic Harem Scarem", but also some "...crazy guitar stuff...", adding that in parts it's "...really heavy!". That may have to do with the new element that was added to the recordings : "Baritone guitars were used in a lot of the songs", explains Hess. This gave a different flavour to not only the songwriting, but also to the sound of the guitars!".

Vocally, Hess admits to have been singing at the top of his range on most of the songs. The final result is said to be Harem Scarem's most intense, moody, and passionate album to date. Well, it sure is all of the aforementioned to me, but then again, I'm not at the good spot to compare with the band's previous material, hahah! Okay, if you don't think that's funny, I'm sorry (for you)...but can I really help it? The 11-track album (oops, sorry...that's 10-track plus a bonus song) does have an heavy undertone, even in the somewhat calmer songs "Can't Live With You", "All You're Getting" (the lyrics of which apparently provided the album's title) and "Same Mistakes", and I'm sure fans of the band won't care anyway, as they will be pleased to get a new album by the foursome (completing the line-up are bassist/ backing vocalist Barry Donaghy and drummer Creighton Doane; they're complemented by Darren Smith on backing vocals, by the way) anyway! Hess truely sounds super-heavy, but never over-the-top...which is commendable at any rate, and he doés have a couple of more calmer, emotional moments as well! If, like me, you never heard anything of the band before (very well possible, you see, since I'm not exactly a spring chicken nor a musical dimwit), but heavy Melodic Hard Rock is your thing, then maybe you should try to get a listening session of the album once it hits the shops on May 23 rd!

Review by Tony
Originally posted at Concrete Web