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Over the years, Canada has actually produced some fine bands in the Rock & Metal genres and Harm are the next name to try and add themselves to that list with their second album ‘The Nine’. This was actually first released in 2009, but with the band receiving favourable reviews for the album and their live performances it is now getting a wider, international release. Consisting of Steve Sharpen (Vocals), Mike Allen (Guitars), Joe Schacher (Bass) and Nick Smyth (Drums) they have been compared to Tool, Kyuss and Clutch. Now while I see some influence of those bands I am also hearing others as well. I am definitely getting a Pantera / Down sludge southern vibe to proceedings. When listened to individually, the songs groove quite nicely and when not screaming (which is most of the time) Steve Sharpens’s vocals have a similar vibrato to Robert Plant or Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come), although he is not as accomplished as either of those singers. Three of the album’s songs stand out head and shoulders above the rest and they are opener ‘The Salem Parade’, ‘The Chelsea Smile’ and ‘Hand Me Down Virtue’. All of these showcase what the band is capable of in a positive light. These are the positives but there are also negatives with the album as well…

Firstly, even though the album is not overlong, when played in one go it does sound quite monotonous. There just isn’t enough variety of pace and the songs tend to blur into one another, rendering the listening experience a bit dull. Secondly, the production by Tom Treumuth (Anvil, Voivod) which, on the whole, has been handled nicely, has let me down with the sound of the snare drum and hi-hat. The snare sounds over-tight and the hi-hat constantly open. Of course, the band may have aimed for this particular sound, but as the drums are high in the mix, it cuts through a little too much for my liking. Thirdly, Sharpen’s vocals rely rather too heavily on the screaming. As I’ve said before I don’t have a problem with screamed vocals but, occasionally, these can grate, especially as I know the guy can sing when he wants to. Overall ‘The Nine’ is a fair album but to be added to that list of great Canadian bands, and to ignite my imagination more, they are going to have to improve for album number three.
Review by Rick Tilley
1st Oct 2012
1) The Salem Parade
2) Little Pariah
3) Philistine
4) Another Conspiracy
5) Stuck in Time
6) Argue and Grin
7) The Chelsea Smile
8) Hand Me Down Virtue
9) Pretentious
10) Sentimental Enterprise
"There just isn’t enough variety of pace and the songs tend to blur into one another, rendering the listening experience a bit dull."