Harem Scarem – Higher @320 (2003)


Many people these days ask the question, where did all of the good stripped down hard rock go, where is the good pop-rock complete with hooks and crunching guitar riffs without all of the gloss and glitter go. Look no further, Canada’s Harem Scarem come forth with yet another offering, giving us the answer to real hard rock. With Higher being their 22nd album (compilations and live releases included, shit, that’s a lot for such a short period of time), it shows an introspective evolution of the band from their Pop Metal beginnings through their endeavors that have combined everything from progressive and world elements, to stripped down acoustic performances. Over a decade after their debut self titled release, these guys have moved beyond their early pop metal sound to bring the melodic hard rock sound to the forefront of the metal scene. Filled with pop hooks, just like all of their past material, thick crunched guitars to shimmering chorus laden axework to acoustic splendor, brought forth with the vocal chops of Harry Hess (who along with guitarist Pete Lesperance, are the two only original members left), Higher makes for yet another satisfactory release. All cuts have the AOR vibe, without all the stereotypical commercial guitar pop connotations brought forth; cut’s like “Torn Right Out,” the psuedo-anthem “Reach,” and “Run and Hide” have the heavy aesthetic, complete with metallic solos and discrete vocal harmonies. Of Course, what would a Harem Scarem record be without a ballad, well look no further the title cut adds that element to Higher as well as the acoustic cuts “Gone” and the moody “Lucky Ones” which complete the pop element. What can anybody say, this is yet another great record from a band that could have easily set the standard for melodic hard rock with pop hooks and memorable riffs that would make any hard rock fan, as well as the average metalhead say, “why isn’t some of the material on this record top 40 hits?” Considering some of the mainstream shit that is played out in the U.S. by bands like The Strokes or Coldplay, this is what mainstream rock should be, maybe some of these mainstream bands could take a lesson from these guys, or at least the A&R record label people that control them.

1 Reach
2 Waited
3 Torn Right Out
4 Give It to You
5 Higher
6 Run and Hide
7 Lucky Ones
8 Lies
9 Gone
10 Lost


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