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Released: 2014, Frontiers Records
It has been six years since Harem Scarem’s last studio album HOPE (not counting the re-recording of Mood Swings last year). While not one to throw around hyperbole often, I believe that Harem Scarem has proven through the years to be among the best in the melodic metal/AOR sub-genre. For a band that flies under most people’s radar, they have had modest success worldwide. That success has generated a passionate core of fans, whose financial contributions helped fund the production of THIRTEEN through PledgeMusic. THIRTEEN capitalizes on the strong momentum gained form MOOD SWINGS II and several strategic shows the band performed around the world. It also rewards the faith and contributions of the band’s fans, Harem Scarem revealing in convincing fashion that they had something worth saying on THIRTEEN.
The key weapons continue to be the melodic and hook-laden riffs of Pete Lesperance coupled with the smooth and sage vocals of Henry Hess. Musically, THIRTEEN is combination of the many different periods of the band’s career. Things lean more commercially than on VOICE OF REASON, but then songs like “Troubled Times” point directly back to the traditional sound of the band on MOOD SWINGS. Album opener “Garden Of Eden” is a perfect four minute trailer for the album, a song that incorporates the band’s 2000s era albums with their earlier 90s style. “Live It” is probably the most commercial sounding tune, leading off with a saccharine sweet riff before being gifted with a brain-imprinting chorus.
Heaviness is not really an attribute anyone would ascribe to Harem Scarem, but “Saints and Sinners” along with “Early Warning Signs” do rock harder than the rest of the album, while “Whatever It Takes” is the obligatory and forgettable piano ballad. Still, one bad tune out of ten is a winner in my book, and THIRTEEN most definitely wins. The production is slick and polished, basically the accepted norm for this subgenre. Bottom line, if you are a fan of Lillian Axe and House Of Lords or similar bands, then THIRTEEN should be your cup of tea.
1. Garden of Eden
2. Live It
3. Early Warning Signs
4. The Midnight Hours
5. Whatever It Takes
6. Saints and Sinners
7. All I Need
8. Troubled Times
9. Never Say Never
Harry Hess - Lead Vocals, Backup Vocals, Keys
Pete Lesperance - Guitars, Bass, Keys
Creighton Doane - Drums
Darren Smith - Backup Vocals
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