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Harem Scarem - Overload (CD)

Harem Scarem
by Grigoris Chronis at 06 June 2005, 2:46 PM

There are certain bands in a fan's mind that - though belonging in what could be stated as my favorite kind of music - do not prove to be that attractive, not to state number one. Speaking about the love it or hate it sub-genre of A.O.R. / Melodic Rock, Canada's Harem Scarem can surely fit  - for my taste - in the above description. A bonus given initially - the band's hailing from a country where I can hardly find an act less than good, be it Rush or Infernal Majesty - was soon buried after the Overload listening session was over.
Harem Scarem are not newbies in the music business. Formed back in the late 80's, a series of none-other-than respected albums in the vein of Melodic Rock offered the band an inevitable success in their home country, the Land of the Rising Sun (mainly), including memorable sales of their self-titled debut album in 1991. As the support act in legendary headliners, such as e.g. April Wine, and a high-profile quartet in the Japanese market, it was quite weird why they never received comparable recognition in the U.S. or Europe, memorizing the pleasant vocal skills of frontman Harry Hess plus the without any doubt  capability of putting down mainstream hooks. So, changes in style/direction over-focused the band a little bit (you don't want me to chat on furthermore…) creating a fuzzy future for their ideals. Yet, in 2001 the band inked a deal with Italian mama-label Frontiers Records auctioning on a return to the basic principles. Two mediocre - in my mere opinion - albums (2002's Weight Of The World and 2003's Higher) and a commonplace performance at UK's Gods Festival put the band again in the picture; leave aside the melody renaissance in the running decade.
Enough with the past. Still, I think I can't write down as much for the album itself. Not being - of course - the quartet's most dedicated follower-to-date, I felt a lot of times that I was listening to some 00's Modern Rock teenage band. If only bands like Placebo, Nickleback or Papa Roach were jamming day and night with Journey, Firehouse or Dokken… Hey, that's right: you have a taste for Dokken's Hell To Pay? That's the comparison I was looking for!
There are some interesting chords, some remarkable solo work and Hess' aura is brilliant. On the other hand, with tracks like Rise And Fall or Can't Live With You it won't be that difficult to come up with the conclusion that Soundgarden or Nirvana members are involved in this project; forget the fact that there's NO WAY someone could confirm this is a Frontiers release if he didn't have the album available for taking a look at the back cover. The CD's production is the living proof…
The good thing about this album's review is that I'm glad the listening session is over. Maybe not that hard; just to give you a hint…

2 Star Rating

Rise And Fall
Don't Come Easy
Can't Live With You
Forgive & Forget
All You're Getting
Leading Me On
Understand You
Same Mistakes
Wishing (Bonus Track)
Harry Hess - Vocals, Keyboards & Guitar
Pete Lesperance - Guitars, Keyboards & Vocals
Barry Donaghy - Bass & Vocals
Creighton Doane - Drums
Darren Smith - Background Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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