Released: 2013, Frontiers Records
The early and mid 90s were filled with great melodic hard rock/metal bands that soldiered on blissfully unaware of the Grunge revolution. Harem Scarem was a band that compared favorably with Lillian Axe, House Of Lords, Tyketto, Hardline and other quality acts. These bands always straddled the line between hard rock and metal, venturing across either side of the line often but never fully committing to either style. Perhaps this, along with the prevalence of Grunge, deeply affected their ability to connect with large audiences. Nevertheless, MOOD SWINGS was a fairly big hit for the band back in 1993 with its abundance of expertly crafted melodic rock and metal songs. The music industry, like the motion picture industry is a copy cat business, and so MOOD SWINGS II is a re-recording of the original Mood Swings.
Normally, these things are more miss than hit, core fans having spent too many hours with the original to ever truly accept the new production, tone, and the intangible vibe that makes the original a product of its time. However, in this case the band has simply nailed it. MOOD SWINGS II sounds better in every way, from production to performance, the guitars especially flowing with gorgeous tones that in many ways shame the original product. Harry Hess’s vocals are spot on. Indeed the band is fully aware of the importance of the original album and thus they make sure they are faithful to those tunes. There are some minor variations in some songs, but the production and performance sounds like a band that has continued to improve and evolve. The solid boom of the bass gives these tracks great backbone, as the excellent “No Justice” proves, the tune going head to head with the best from Lillian Axe. “Sentimental Blvd.” is probably one of the catchiest tunes on the album sung by one time drummer Darren Smith.
Despite the excellent rendering of these songs, the band adds value by including three new tracks at the end of the album. All three are decent, though to my ears none fit like a glove, but they are close to the style of MOOD SWINGS, with “Anarchy” being one of the heavier tunes on the album. “Brighter Day” closes things as a more modern sounding ballad, not bad, but a bit poppy while embodying some Def Leppard traits during the verses. Out of 14 songs, the only one I can do without is “Jealousy”, a bluesier tune injected with some funk that I can do without. All things considered, that is high percentage of good songs and even long time fans will appreciate the new treatment these songs have gotten. Listeners that missed Harem Scarem first time around, but enjoy Tyketto, Lillian Axe, House of Lords, and others will definitely want to start with this release.