Harem Scarem - United
Frontiers Records
Melodic Rock
11 songs (45:04)
Release year: 2017
Harem Scarem, Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben

In 2008 when Harem Scarem announced they were breaking up, it definitely took a big ol' shit on my day. They were supposed to all go their separate ways (oh yea) and do work in the music industry as producers and solo artists. They actually were pretty successful in each of their endeavors, but they must have realized that they make sweet music together. In 2013 I vaguely remember them crowdfunding the Thirteen album. Tours happened, people cheered, a live DVD was filmed, and now we are here with United.

This band has a true gift in creating catchy, memorable melodies, and guitarist Pete Lesperance is truly and wholly separate from any other guitarist out there. If I were to describe a "trademark sound" of the guy, it would be an instantly identifiable guitar tone and a knack for slinky as hell riffs that are technical as well as enjoyable. The other big dog of the group is singer Harry Hess. Him and Pete write the songs together and they have a wonderful body of work that they have created. Lastly, drummer Darren Smith returned to the band when they reunited in 2013. He was with them in their infancy all the way up to the 2000's before the first reunion (they broke up briefly before by changing their name to Rubber and making pop rock). Now that he's back, his vocals are all over the place and the band once again plays Sentimental Blvd. live with him on lead vocals, just like on Mood Swings. Win win!

Once upon a time in 2002, Harem Scarem "came back" with the amazing assburner of an album Weight Of The World, and at the time it was heavily compared to Mood Swings. When the 2003 LP Higher was recorded it had a sound similar to the self titled debut, a bit softer, but not as ballad heavy as the debut was. Well, in 2005 they put out Overload which was much in the vein of the alternative rock of Voice Of Reason. Why am I talking about all these other albums? United is like a blend of all three early 2000's albums with the Graph-o-meter reading: 60% Weight Of The World, 32% Higher, and 8% Overload. That is to say it contains the best of their old style abilities wrapped up in a non dated sounding presentation but without bringing to mind modern rock buttmud.

Holy hell, there are tons of harmony vocals all over this album. They've always had a strong vocal presence, but now with everyone in the band basically being a singer in their own right, it's amped up to twentyonezillion. Choruses are powerful, and endearing, and hypnotically transfixing! Sinking Ship for example, is a rollicking and rough hewn song propelled by a tight and bouncy riff with a chorus that screams conviction. Literally. And having the backing vocals be as effective as they are give that extra little bit of a push to the feeling of defiant energy. Harry Hess channels Joe Elliot from Def Lep on No Ragrets. I mean, No Regrets. Unlike lots of "the road" songs this one is an upbeat celebratory tune. Singer guy Jeff Scott Soto (Axel Rudi Pell) has a prominent guest role on Bite The Bullet. Jeff wrote the lyrics and has backing vocals that are pushed waaaay up in the mix. Near the end while the band is outro-ing out of the song, he has several lead lines in a call and response section with Harry. About the most modern this album gets are the beat and syncopated intro of Gravity and the overall vibe of The Sky Is Falling which actually recalls the song Blue. That's a good thing. There aren't any tracks like Don't Come Easy or Dagger although they do play those live today I believe. Have to give a shout out to the really cool Arabian sounding intro to the title track. It's a cool sound but doesn't appear anywhere else on the album.

Since United is going on three years old now, it's probably time for a new album from the band soon. Glad to see them back, AGAIN, (geez, that really seems like a recurring theme these days doesn't it) and hope they keep it together this time. It's kinda disheartening that they broke up twice, but I'm glad they found a way to make things work so they can play music in Harem Scarem again. It's too damn good to just leave sitting on a shelf somewhere.

Killing Songs :
Here Today Gone Tomorrow, United, No Ragrets, Heaven and Earth
Ben quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Harem Scarem that we have reviewed:
Harem Scarem - Change The World reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - Human Nature reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - Mood Swings reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - Overload reviewed by Ben and quoted 55 / 100
Harem Scarem - The Early Years reviewed by Ben and quoted 76 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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