REVIEW: HAREM SCAREM – “United”
Harem Scarem first hit the Canadian rock scene in the late 80s, spearheaded by guitarist Pete Lesperance and singer Harry Hess. They broke into the mainstream with their 1991 self-titled debut record titled ‘Harem Scarem’. The band enjoyed a lot of success in Japan and saw a steady stream of good rock records before decided to break up due to many side projects that the band members were involved in. They regrouped together and saw rejuvenation in 2013 with the recording and release of their record ‘Thirteen’. They are back with another solid album titled ‘United’ and it features some very interesting ideas.
The record opens with “United” , featuring an absolutely smashing, very up-tempo middle eastern riff and dies to give rise to a familiar tune that takes you back to the late 80s. This song is a huge anthem, definitely a sing-along and sports everything that made you rock your socks off to Bon Jovi, RATT, Poison and Motley Crue back in the day.
Riff assault continues with “Here Today Gone Today”. Harry Hess does an amazing job singing and compliments well with spider-web notes and melodies that are running through the guitar work. Some of the songs on this record have an up-beat quality to them, with a sense of humour. “Sinking Ship” is an absolute rocker as well featuring inspirational lyrics like “I’m gonna stay my ground , on the sinking ship” on the chorus. “One of Life’s Mysteries” comes in at a very good spot on the track list, being a quiet and self-reflective ballad.
The ballad is followed by “No Regrets” bringing back the huge guitar sound, and believe me, every riff that you hear is intentional and well crafted. This song has a lot of Def Leppard feel to it. Interestingly, some of the song structures remind me of another band from Canada that I love called Simple Plan.
“Bite the Bullet” is much more easy-going and the band shows it can do a lot with a simpler approach to instrumentation. It does feature one of the most compelling guitar solos off this record and this is my favourite song off the record. “The Sky Is Falling” has a darker vibe to it but a very positive chorus. It is another smashing hit single in my opinion and I can hear it being played in huge stadiums. They close off the album with “Indestructible” which sounds like you’re in the heart of Texas, a lonesome cowboy, riding into the sunset. The song builds up and the chorus hits you in the chest like a huge wall. This is one of the most upbeat and pop-sounding tracks off this record.
Harem Scarem have outdone themselves on this record. One could argue that they are playing to their strengths and there is nothing new about it. You could not be more wrong. They have perfected their sound, honed it to sonic brilliance, and are laying doing hooks, choruses and melodies that not only remind you of the old days but also serve as a gateway to the newer generation on the joys of grandiose musical journeys and expression. The songwriting compared with a great sound and amazing production value makes this record a joy to listen to.