I listen first to the music. There has to be something there which resonates and connects with me. If the guitar riff makes me pick up my guitar to learn it, then god damn, it’s a good song. And on occasions the guitar riff could be simple, but the vocal melody and the lyrics drive home the song. There is no perfect science, but, if there is cool guitar riff, then I am sold.
And Harem Scarem’s new album, “Change The World” has a lot of nice guitar work. Pete Lesperance is one of the most underrated guitarists, ever. His style of playing is exactly what I like, even bringing back memories of Vito Bratta’s style playing.
I remember purchasing Guitar World magazines in the 90s and suddenly how uncool it was to play fast and to practice. But practicing was all about developing different techniques so that the guitarist had an arsenal at their disposal, ready to produce the correct weaponry when needed.
Change The World
The E major intro lick reminds of “Glasgow Kiss” from John Petrucci’s solo album. But this is its own beast.
The chords in the verse move from an E to a B chord but under an E pedal point. The chorus has a stock chord progression that every chart topping song uses. In the key of E major, the chords are E to B to C#m and A.
The main lead break is brilliant and as good as any lead break from all of the 80’s guitar heroes.
The intro riff, is heavy and melodic. The way Lesperance uses octaves and single notes under ringing pedal points reminds me of the best things about grunge music and bands like Smashing Pumpkins.
The main lead break, needs to be heard.
It’s so well structured, it flows nicely, and the phrasing is perfect. It’s got legato lines, bends, string skipping, palm muted fast picked lines and hammer ons.
Searching For Meaning
Waiting for the lead break is worth it, as it kicks off with double-stop bends before it moves into a melodic section.
And the man riff of the song is scattered with power chords and palm muted arpeggios.
The Death Of Me
The intro riff grabs me and that lead break again, god damn. Lesperance’s use of the Lydian and Mixolydian scales over minor key chords, works so good.
Mother Of Invention
It’s a ballad.
And I had an idea as to how the solo would go from hearing the chord progression.
And it went down that road, starting off with pentatonic lines and some bends, then there was a section of some fast pull off patterns and hammer ons, then a fast picked open string lick and some string skipping interval slides to end it.
No Man’s Land
Now this solo starts off, with this classical style lick and it reminds me of that Christmas tune that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra do.
On the Savatage album, “Dead Winters Dead” it’s called “Sarajevo”.
And that same lick ends the song, it’s that good.
In The Unknown
So many of the Harem Scarem songs start off with a sing along guitar lick like this song.
Do I have to mention that you need to listen to the lead break, constructed like a separate song within a song. It has this repeating open string lick for 8 bars which is catchy and melodic, before it goes to some octave slides and fast picked licks.
Riot In My Head
Another memorable riff to kick off a memorable song with another memorable solo.
Swallowed By The Machine
This is one of my favourite songs, hands down. The lyrics connect, the music connects and the lead breaks definitely connect.
We’re falling into dystopia
It’s crumbling before our eyes
Black mirror reflecting all our lives
Don’t worry about the “Black Mirror” TV show, which shows some of the horrors our love of technology could bring forth to us.
But we should worry about how many times we access our tablet or iPad’s or phones.
I access my tech devices so much, just to hear music from it. I feel like I am constantly touching it, calling up different albums on Spotify, saving songs, adding songs to playlists and finding other albums.
Then I check my emails a few times throughout the day, then Twitter three times a day and WordPress a few times a day as well. Then there are text messages and phone calls to deal with and I also read books on iBook’s and the Kindle app on the iPhone.
Suddenly, that little black mirror has seen my face and fingerprint an unbelievable amount of times.
We all have dreams
We all have doubts
Be careful which you feed
And don’t get swallowed by the machine
If you want to transform your reality, make sure you avoid all the negative people and doubters in your life, and surround yourself with people who believe in your potential to achieve your dreams.
Good things happen, but you need to look for these good things and open up your outlook and your mindset. Feed the good and ignore the doubt.
And crank Harem Scarem’s new album.