|Harem Scarem Human Nature||Vespa Music|
You can say what you like about any perceived bias towards Harem Scarem over the last few years in my reviews, but take a look at their creative output over the years – especially in the last 4 years since they took up the Scarem quest again – they are simply untouchable!|
The band has appealed to just about all melodic rock lovers over the years, so with each release there is a wide discussion about styles, sounds and individual preferences for different records throughout the Canadian bands career.
Everyone has their favourites, and I continue to be blown away by their consistency. You can guarantee that every album will feature at least several new classic melodic rock songs and a few fresh twists too.
This band keeps it interesting and for me, they deliver everything a melodic rock fan could want in a new record – soaring vocals, big choruses and a huge production every time.
Preferences for direction and style aside, you cannot argue that each and every Harem Scarem record is the pinnacle of melodic rock quality.
The band's last few albums have been extraordinary and I'd stack those albums up against any other artist for consistency.
I feel of lot of what I have just written is for the purpose of justifying my enthusiastic endorsement of their music – but the fans don't need any convincing – so onto the contents of Human Nature.
Harem Scarem have – in the past – received a few less than stellar reviews from me (the first Rubber album for instance was a little hit or miss, as was Big Bang Theory), but this is another total class release as far as I see it.
I said the same of Overload, but to my surprise, the majority seemed to disagree on that one! I guess many did not appreciate the band's move into darker, less commercial realms, but as a fan of the much underrated Voice Of Reason album, I saw Overload as a natural mix of the past and the band's more recent work. And I have always dug Harem's underlying dark vibe.
My views aside, the voice of the fans reached the band. Human Nature is therefore classic Harem Scarem in every sense.
This is a far more melodic release and sees the band pump out some huge AOR harmonies, while mixing the production style and direction of recent work such as Weight Of The World and Higher.
A band that has been recording this long is not likely to copy any one style, instead finding their music evolving into a mix of everything from their past. Human Nature is just that – its part Harem Scarem, part Weight Of The World, part Higher, part Mood Swings and even part Rubber, but always melodic and filled with hooks.
Track By Track:
Album number 11 opens with that familiar guitar sound we've come to love and we are away. Human Nature isn't in the band's usual style of opening with a punchy rocker. This is a mellower starter that builds to a glorious classic harmony filled Harem Scarem chorus.
Making the point that this album is less on the hard rock and more on the melody, the title track does the job perfectly and becomes yet another instant Harem classic.
Next Time Around is a little more urgent and rolls along at a nice pace. Once again, it is a perfect example of a great pop song – and does what these guys do best – gets to the point quickly. A mellower verse again gets rocking come chorus time - one I might add has a definite Mood Swings and Higher feel to it.
The rock ballad Caught Up In Your World features another warm and inviting vocal from Harry, introduced by a hard edge riff, which returns for the chorus. This is an emotional track that features some fine guitar work from Pete.
Reality is a straight forward mid-tempo melodic rocker in classic Harem style, with another great riff and melodies flying everywhere. The chorus reminds me of the very melodic run of tracks on second half of the Higher album.
Hanging On is an absolute monster ballad. This track rivals the best ballads the band has recorded in their illustrious past and overflows with passion and emotion. I love it and rate it as one of the best ballads of recent times. Comparing the band's recent ballads, this is better than All You're Getting (from Overload) and Higher (from Higher) and is up there with This Ain't Over (from Weight Of The World) for class.
The bridge and harmony vocals just add to the power of the song, which features a very demanding lead vocal.
Don't Throw It Away returns the album to a slightly rockier path, but still bathed in melodies. A punchy riff is accompanied by a swathe of harmony vocals and the chorus is another big and classic melodic Scarem anthem.
Just as every Harem album in recent times features some injection of more modern influences, so to is there a track borrowing from Queen. The moody and mellow rocker Give Love / Get Love is such a track. It's familiar, yet a little different at the same time and the punchy chorus is a clear tribute to the vocal styling of Queen.
From there we delve into this album's modern rocker – 21. This moody and harder hitting track is reminiscent of the style and mood created on Overload. It isn't as melodic as much of the rest of the album, but has its place and as already stated, I do like the darker side of the band.
Starlight is typical of the band and won't be of any surprise to long time fans. It is of course, another solid track and acts as the required light and breezy melodic rocker with the catchy chorus, designed to punctuate the more left of center tracks around it.
Going Under is a great catchy commercial modern melodic rocker and although it compares with the band's second Rubber album (Ultra Feel), it is so instantly catchy, I can't imagine any Harem fan not digging this.
Tomorrow May Be Gone closes out the European release in perfect and absolute magic form. This uptempo melodic rock anthem mixes up those Mood Swings influences with something like Killing Me from Weight Of The World and Lost from Higher.
One of the best tracks from the new album and a smashing way to finish any record.
There are always calls for the guys to repeat their classic Moon Swings album, but they haven't yet – and without that line-up back in place, they are unlikely to either.
Rather this line-up has delivered the best possible fan pleasing album they can and I believe that has been achieved. Not quite a perfect record and perhaps nothing we haven't already heard from the guys, but hell, they just do this stuff so well.
PS. I just got through listening to Overload again – man, I still love that record!
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