Harem Scarem | review

I was doing my Bonfire reviews this week and I just thought to myself, "What's another good melodic hardrock band that is worthy of an archive?" and at the same time I noticed that Harem Scarem have a new album coming out in the not too distant future so I thought, "Hey why not do them?" and put on their debut self titled release and decided to give it a shot. Harem Scarem have gone through many stylistic changes throughout the course of their career, from their 80's inspired balladesque hard rock found ontheir debut, to pop leanings with Big Bang Theory and to modern melodic rock with Weight of the World in 2002, one of this reviewers top fifteen albums of that year as well.

Listening to Harem Scarem it is hard to see almost how far the band would come in the future. Looking at the quote this is in by no means a bad affair, but compared to what the band will become this is quite a humbling shock. The whole album has a soft feel to it with only about two out and out rocking tracks the rest being slow ballads or slow to midtempo balladesque songs. This is a good disc to put on while wanting to mellow out or just to have some nice music to listen to without too much of a hassle. There are several songs on here that the band still plays live today which is a testament to the strength of the songs here. One of them, the opener and the fastest, Hard to Love, is a classic song for the band in every sense of the word. A great vocal delivery and a nice keyboard beat in the background with some great guitar licks by Pete Lesperance, this is a definite killer. After that strong opener the rest of the album is pretty much a collection of ballads and this surprisingly didn't disappoint me. Since the album is comprised of mostly ballads the band had to actually write some good well structured ballads instead of some bands that put out ballads seemingly to fill out their cd. The best ones are the slow, piano driven Honestly and the guitar led How Long. With ballads you pretty much know what type of lyrical content that you're gonna get and asyou guessed it, Harem Scarem sing a lot about relationships, both the positive end of things and the negative. Honestly is a lamenting song of lost love that is very emotional. How Long takes the prize of being my personal favorite track off the album however as after a slow intro it kicks into a great verse / chorus pattern, incredibly simple yet incredibly effective.

Harry Hess sings tremendously here, as if the events in the song actually happened and this is a cathartic release for him. Speaking of the lyrics, I love them, this band writes songs that you can relate to very easily. Perhaps that is why I love Melodic Hard Rock so much, especially at my age where the things that these types of bands sing about actually happen. While I really enjoy bands such as Rhapsody I know I'll never run into Aresius on his trip toHankar to slay the mighty demon wizard with the emerald sword. HAIL!!! You know what I mean? Whereas Rhapsody and the ilk can write lyrics that are good for escapism and fantasy I can't really sit down and go, "Yea I totally understand where he's coming from," but bands like Harem Scarem and Bonfire,whentheywrite songs you can sit down and listen to them or read the lyrics and actually go, "Yea that reminds me ofso and so." All Over Again is one of those songs that makes reminds you of someone or something. It has a more rockish feel to it than the other ballad's and like I said, is pretty personal,not in the sense that it means so much to me but in the sense that a person can relate to it very easily. None of the songs on Harem Scarem will blow you away with technicality or speed or majestic double harmony solos, instead they are good solid hard rock songs and ballads that you can relate to and sometimes that's all you need for a great album.

If you are a hardcore Power Metal fan and demand fast double kicks, soaring high vocals and songs about fighting for honor, (hey I'm one of those people too yet I love this kind of music) and that's all youlisten to you most likely won't like this album. If you like midtempo or balladesque songs that deal with human relationships and matters then give Harem Scarem a shot. Another crowd this would appeal to is the ones that never gave up the 80's. Like I said earlier this album has a strong 80's feel to it and that'spart of its charm. A very good solid album that glimpses of what is to come. Maybe in the future I'll review their masterpiece Mood Swings album.

Review by Ben
Originally posted at metalreviews.com