The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







Tracklisting: Garden of Eden; Live It; Early Warning Signs; The Midnight Hours; Whatever It Takes; Saints and Sinners; All I Need; Troubled Times; Never Say Never; Stardust; Garden of Eden (Acoustic Version – bonus track)

It is so hard to review an album when your own personal expectations are so high. Harem Scarem to many who love their Melodic Rock is one of the great bands of the genre largely undiscovered by the mainstream and so a new album after six long years is just the news needed to get the blood flowing. A lot of course has happened in that time, notably Harry Hess’ wonderful First Signal project along with original drummer Darren Smith (who now sings for Jake E Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel) and the equally wonderful solo album ‘Living In Yesterday’ from 2012.
Funded via a Pledge campaign ‘Thirteen’ is somewhat oddly titled as I only count eleven previous releases (OK twelve if you include the remade Mood Swings – Mood Swings II from 2012) by that band. That aside if you were wondering ‘Thirteen’ is right up there with their very best.

If you were at all concerned, don’t be – the opening track and biblically-titled ‘Garden of Eden’  has it all – lush melodies, great guitar and swagger you could bottle. And it just gets better…

‘Live It’ that follows starts with a nice gravelly vocal before exploding into a melody made to sing along to. This is music that reaffirms all your belief in the uplifting quality of Rock music. Surely no one around at the moment does it quite this well?  

The most interesting song follows: ‘Early Warning Signs’ has both a modern edge and a pop twist in the backing vocals it’s perhaps a sign of where Harem Scarem might head with a bit of traction, and thoroughly satisfying.  The album then solidifies back to the more anticipated sound of previous releases: ‘The Midnight Hours’ lowers the pace and delivers a sugar hit unsurpassed so far; whilst ‘Whatever It Takes’ drops it back further to deliver an impassioned ballad that starts the tears.

‘Saints and Sinners’ that follows builds a groove that is simply infectious. It’s hard to believe that after just six tracks you can be so completely satisfied.

As strong as the album has been so far the home straight is always the proof of any album and ‘Thirteen’ more than lives up to expectations.  ‘All I Need’ has a low-fi intro that shows that ‘stripped-back’ works equally well before it bursts into flames with the chorus. ‘Troubled Times’ adds an injection of funk almost lost in sweet melody, and ends up sounding a little like ‘Magnum’.

To close ‘Never Say Never’ drops to mid-pace and ups the sweet backing vocals as a call to arms that could well echo the band’s aspirations here, extolling us “to never give up on our dreams”. ‘Stardust’ the final track is a work of art quite simply, a powerful song that underlines the importance of this fine album. Harem Scarem never disappoint. This is sheer class. An album to move you…

The press release adds a tantalising aside for those who have not yet seen the band live: With 12 top 40 hits around the world and with sales well over a million records in 43 countries, 2015 will see the Harem Scarem touring the world in support of their 13th studio album “Thirteen“!


Harry Hess: Lead and backup Vocals/Keys
Pete Lesperance: Guitars/Bass/Keys
Creighton Doane: Drums
Darren Smith: Backup Vocals



by Mark Rockpit