On the tenth day of Christmas Planetmosh gave to me ten tracks of melodic rock goodness from Canadian rockers Harem Scarem who are certainly Lords in the eyes of their fans! I get the chance to find out why with a listen to their new album ‘Thirteen‘.
Back in 2008 after a near twenty year run making music, Harem Scarem called it a day with the release of their twelfth studio album ‘Hope’. Much to the delight of their worldwide fanbase Harem Scarem announced the release of their thirteenth album, ‘Thirteen‘, with pre orders being made available via a thirteen week pledgemusic campaign. It was a testament to the dedication of their fans as the campaign was past 100% funded in the first week!
So onto the album, and the opening to the first track, Garden of Eden shows a lot of promise with its light fingered lead guitar work backed up by powerful melodic riffs. In no time at all I was tapping along with the music and thoroughly enjoying the vocal chorus, fronted by Harry Hess, which is a signature of the band’s sound. Next up we hear ‘Live It’ and where the first track was a good start this one really had me paying attention, with its catchy hook laden intro and gravelly solo vocals starting out. This is one of the more commercial tracks on the album but don’t be put off as it still stands alone as a top quality hard rock track, just deserving of radio play.
‘Early Warning Signs’ steps away from the melodic offerings so far with a straight down the line hard rock edge to it, putting me into much more familiar musical territory. Heavier riffs and a gritty feel to the song demonstrate the slightly darker side to the band but still mixing in a chorus that sticks in your mind the first time you hear it and has you singing along the second! (It really does!). This is not the only track that has this effect either, with another strong offering from the tremendous hooks and monstrous heavy riffs of ‘Saints and Sinners’. Standing shoulder to shoulder with this is ‘Troubled Times’ later in the album, a song that took a while to get going but once it did blasted through to a superb catchy chorus and powerful riff laden guitar melodies.
I did feel the album definitely reaches a peak of musical energy about two thirds of the way through, although that is not to say the best is done and you should turn it off, far from it. The final track ‘Stardust’ is another belting song with great lyrics, a strong track filled with alternate harmonies and slower yet still powerful guitar work from Pete Lesperance. Certainly a very fitting track to bring the mood down as the album draws to a close.
As is often the case with bands who have years of studio experience between them, the production quality of ‘Thirteen’ is top notch. The guitar is as clear is it could be without being too crisp and polished and the vocal levels and drums are perfectly balanced with no single instrument being overbearing, but the whole arrangement coming together perfectly.
Throughout the album we are taken down a winding path of variety which keeps its foundations firmly in melodic rock, but with a broad range of influences which allow it to grow beyond genre boundaries. The extra creative dimension added by dipping a toe in other rock genres makes it a thoroughly enjoyable listen and a worthy comeback album for the band.
Garden Of Eden
Early Warning Signs
The Midnight Hours
Whatever It Takes
Saints And Sinners
All I Need
Never Say Never
Harry Hess – Lead vocals, keyboards
Pete Lesperance – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Backing vocals
Creighton Doane – Drums
Darren Smith – Backing vocals