Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' CD Review (Frontiers Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' CD Review (Frontiers Records)

Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' CD Review (Frontiers Records)
Canadian band Harem Scarem isn’t (yet) a household name in the US but that hasn’t stopped them from putting out a number of melodic hard-rock discs that really should be staples of FM radio. For anyone not familiar with Harem Scarem, the band was formed in 1987 by guitarist Pete Lesperance and singer Harry Hess. The band hit its commercial peak in 1993 with their second album, Mood Swings, and sadly got pushed to the side by grunge. After a dozen studio albums, Harem Scarem called it a day in 2008 with the release of Hope but got back together last year to re-record Mood Swings (as Mood Swings II) and decided kept the band going.

Harem Scarem’s newest disc, Thirteen, came out this past Friday on Frontiers Records. It is obvious that the band still has a strong and loyal fan base as the band launched a pledge campaign to support the making of their new studio album and reached their goal in less than 24 hours.

Harem Scarem has a full, multi-layered sound and Hess’ gritty but melodic vocals and Lesperance’s guitar work are focal points in each of the songs. Hess’ vocals fall somewhere between that of Ray Gillen (Badlands/Black Sabbath), David Coverdale and Ted Poley and Lesperance’s guitar work ranges from groove-oriented 90’s alt-rock (“Early Warning Signs”) to a soaring power-ballad (“Whatever It Takes”) to bordering on the edge of power metal (“Stardust”).

This new 10-track disc (39 minutes) starts with the song “Garden of Eden”, which sets the tone for the rest of the disc. This number is a mid-tempo rocker with a big melodic chorus that is complemented by Lesperance’s fret work, which includes a nice solo and some memorable riffs. There is a bit of a flavor of Southern rock on “Live It” and the band starts to shift gears on “The Midnight Hour”, which is an 80’s style AOR number that includes both piano and some nice solos from Lesperance. After the power ballad “Whatever It Takes”, the band gets back to where the disc started and kicks it up for the shredding rocker “Saints and Sinners”. “Troubled Times” falls somewhere between 90’s ‘modern rock’ and the better side of Bon Jovi and the disc ends on a strong note with the big arena rocker “Stardust”, which features some heavy, distinctive guitar riffs that build to a big chorus.

For the collectors, there is a bonus track with an acoustic version of “The Midnight Hours” on the Japanese release and there is also a Japanese SHM-CD version that includes a second disc of the band playing live in Japan in 2013. On the European release, the bonus track is an acoustic version of “Garden of Eden”.

Harem Scarem