Best Melodic Rock album 2017, #1 : HAREM SCAREM – United [Japan SHM-CD Ltd Edition] (2017)
End of the year / beginning of 2018, it’s time to recap about the best 2017 releases, by category.
The classy Canadians deliver their most directly melodic record since the early Nineties. And and for 0dayrox, ‘United’ is best 2017 Melodic Rock album.
Canadian melodic hard rock institution HAREM SCAREM will release their fourteenth studio album, “United“, on May 12 via Frontiers Music, but here’s the already released Japanese Limited Edition on SHM-CD (there’s also a regular edition).
“United” delivers eleven tracks (plus a bonus here) of trademark HAREM SCAREM catchy music from Harry Hess (lead vocals, keyboards), Pete Lesperance (guitars, bass, keyboards), longtime drummer Creighton Doane, and backing vocals from original sticksman and current Red Dragon Cartel singer Darren Smith (who will be playing live drums for the band on tour dates).
The record opens with title track ‘United’ delivering 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 the glory days of the genre back in the day.
Next ‘Here Today Gone Tomorrow’ is just what you want – slick, moving melodic rock, huge hooks and vocals that few can match. It’s a breathtaking, killer tune.
Track 3 ‘Gravity’ starts off a little quirky musically and for a moment you wonder if, God-forbid, we’re going to get anything modern. Thankfully you close your eyes and you realise this wonderful construction is almost Queen-like in its beauty and Hess’ Freddie-like phrasing – its simply wonderful.
‘Sinking Ship’ adds another set of soaring melodies via sharp riffs and clever lyrics, before the simple, self-reflective ballad ‘One of Life’s Mysteries’ could have graced any late Eighties album as the requisite ‘Power Ballad’.
The relentless drive of ‘No Regrets’ gets back to the trademark sound with hints of vintage Def Leppard for good measure it’s yet another winner on an album that seems resolutely flawless.
‘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 is a personal favorite.
You could even argue that they save the best till last – there’s that Queen influence coming through again in the vocal phrasing on ‘The Sky Is Falling’ which is the sort of song that if someone asks you why you love Melodic Rock you could simply play it to them.
It is another smashing hit single in my opinion and I can hear it being played in huge stadiums.
‘Heaven and Earth’ follows and it’s in the terrain that Harem Scarem have always excelled – they can do the pacey rockers, they can nail the ballads, but no one does this kind of mid-paced AOR like these guys. Love this track, a highlight.
The final track ‘Indestructible’ starts with a sparse lonesome cowboy guitar threaded through a wonderfully plaintive vocal from Hess before the build starts the pace ups, the guitars flood in and the harmonies sweep you up, its like a flash flood of a song that gathers you up and points you skyward. Huge, uplifting and sweet as sugar syrup, Harem Scarem at their best.
The Japanese bonus tracks is an acoustic re-working on “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow [Acoustic Version]”, and seems Harems Scarem have perfected their art in morphing a pumping electric song into a relaxed, acoustic little gem.
Everything about “United” is top notch. 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.
I can’t believe that this will not be my #1 Melodic Rock release of the year and we’ve only a third of the way in. Yeah, “United” is Melodic Rock perfection.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
KING Records ～ KIZC-382
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01 – United
02 – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
03 – Gravity
04 – Sinking Ship
05 – One Of Life’s Mysteries
06 – No Regrets
07 – Bite The Bullet
08 – Things I Know
09 – The Sky Is Falling
10 – Heaven And Earth
11 – Indestructible
12 – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow [Acoustic Version]
Harry Hess – vocals, keyboards
Pete Lesperance – guitars, bass, keyboards
Stan Miczek – bass
Creighton Doane – drums
Darren Smith – background vocals, live drummer
BUY IT !