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Harem Scarem - 'Thirteen' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c1/21/21/Harem-Scarem-Thirteen-12-1423774908.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 12, 2015    
 
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The only thing to do is play it again.

Canadian Rockers Harem Scarem reappeared in 2013 after several years on a seemingly permanent hiatus, releasing a re-recorded version of their popular 'Mood Swings' record and touring with a show that included the whole album. Twelve months later they're back with their first all-new album since 2008's 'Hope', a record that divided opinion and probably went some way towards their decision to put the band to bed after twenty years and twelve studio albums. Currently with no permanent bass player, the recording is handled by original members Harry Hess (vocals, guitar, keys) and Pete Lesperance (lead guitar, bass, vocals), with long time member Creighton Doane handling the drums and original drummer Darren Smith helping out on those distinctive backing vocals.

HS are in the curious position of having covered many different styles in the past and made them all part of their sound without completely abandoning any of them as more records were made. Whilst many of their albums have their own distinct flavour, others have cherry picked from those different directions to make up an album that, however varied, still sounds like HS.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The cleverly titled 'Thirteen' is no different; taking its lead from the likes of 'Believe'/'Karma Cleansing', 'Weight Of The World' and the darker 'Overload' or 'Hope', although it has to be said that a vast majority of the songs have upbeat choruses with layers of the aforementioned harmony vocals, no matter how dark or contemporary the verse is.

Opener 'Garden Of Eden', for instance, has a technical, quirky guitar part, a big chorus and a Funky, almost Extreme-like instrumental breakdown, as does the great Rocker 'Saints And Sinners', both with shades of 'Karma Cleansing' (the song) in their construction and skillful delivery. They use the old dark verse/soaring melodic chorus method on the superbly catchy 'Troubled Times', 'Never Say Never' and the classic/modern hybrid 'All I Need', and reverse the trick on 'Early Warning Signs' with its brilliant Rocky verse and modern Power Pop chorus.

Elsewhere, 'Whatever It Takes' is a classic power ballad and 'The Midnight Hours' has a killer chorus, but the Poppy 'Live It' is just different, even for them, and takes quite a few plays to lodge itself in your brain with the others. Personally the darker strains of the closing track 'Stardust' is the absolute highlight, matching the depth of 'Voice Of Reason's best tracks with the stirring conclusion of 'Change Comes Around'. Harry Hess' vocals are as classy and emotional as usual and there are no fillers in Harry and Pete's songs, but what makes 'Thirteen' easily Harem Scarem's best album since 2002's 'Weight Of The World' is Pete's guitar, which weaves its magic on every track with a series of clever riffs and well thought out solos, which when matched to the duo's excellent work on the other side of the studio window, makes this short-ish album fly by so fast that the only thing to do is play it again.

Phil Ashcroft

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