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Harem Scarem Hope Frontiers Records
FRCD379
· Produced By: Harry Hess & Pete Lesperance

· Running Time: 41.00

· Release Date: July 4

· Released:

· Musical Style: Melodic Rock

· Links: Frontiers
92%
Songs: 95%
Sound: 90%
Harem Scarem are one of those bands within this music scene who have an immensely high profile due to the number of albums they have released and the high regard in which people generally hold the band.
When the band does release an album – everyone checks it out – and therefore you get to hear a lot of opinions. Lots of them. Not everyone is always happy, but one has to say that considering the ever changing musical route the band takes, keeping the majority happy, a majority of the time is something to be proud of.
Even some of the band's most die-hard fans can't be pleased all the time, but Harem Scarem is simply one of the most consistent and likable melodic rock bands I have ever covered.
After 11 studio albums and some 20 years making music together the guys have called it quits and this is the last album to be released.
Frustration at not being able to follow the musical direction they want and repeated calls for the band to simply repeat the formula of their most loved records have eroded the enthusiasm of Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance.
But they have given fans one more record to enjoy (and no doubt debate) and Hope is that very optimistically titled record.
I'm not sure what fans were expecting from a final Harem Scarem record. I think some thought the band might finally give in and repeat the formula for Mood Swings as a farewell gesture; others thought they would deliver an album of uninspired by-the-numbers material.
Neither is true. The band close out their long and illustrious career with a challenging album that has a much darker mood than their previous, more upbeat album Human Nature and a contemporary sound that will see several songs compared to the Overload and Voice Of Reason albums.
The guys haven't played it safe here, but there are a couple of moments where you can't help but think that they could be doing this sort of thing in their sleep.
There are a few songs here that work so well that they will rate amongst my favourite songs the guys have recorded in recent years.
There are also a couple of songs that I could possibly live without, so I expect the usual fan debates to be as strong as ever.
Hope continues the production and sound style of the band's output since Weight Of The World and slots in nicely alongside Higher, Human Nature and Overload.
In my simple and plain view - if you have continued to follow Harem Scarem over the years – you will like this. Simple.
The songwriting is of the band's usual high standard and the production likewise.
Track By Track:
The kick off is Watch Your Back – probably the most classic Harem Scarem styled track on the album. Darker and moodier than Human Nature for instance, but with a great commercial chorus in typical Scarem style, it could easily have slotted into the last release or any of the last 4 albums.
Time Bomb is one of the tracks I continue to struggle with. Mostly because of an irritating repetitive cymbal through the verse that is a trademark of drummer Creighton Doane, but here it is so prominent in the mix it takes away from an otherwise adventurous modern melodic rock tune that sees Harry singing falsetto in the chorus.
Hope starts with a classic Lesperance riff and dives right into the moody and dark Overload style of melodic rock. The chorus is to me, reminiscent of Weight Of The World, so the mix of both is appealing and works well.
The next few tracks are where things get darker and heavier and represent my favourite part of the album. Days Are Numbered has a slow moody verse, but cracking beat and a soaring chorus that is completely addictive.
Dark Times is clearly more aggressive both with the intense vocal delivery and the choppy guitar riff. But a thoroughly melodic chorus shines through and takes the song in a different direction before the intensity of the verse returns. No one does melodies like these guys.
Beyond Repair is intense and heavy again, yet in a more restrained fashion to that of Dark Times. Moody and intense, but mellower through the verse, this time the guys rollout the angst and harder riffs for the chorus. A perfect contrast to that of Dark Times.
Never Too Late eases up on the angst for a bit. This is a more traditional HS melodic rocker with melodies flowing through the verse before a short tempo changing chorus changes tact slightly.
Shooting Star is the first of two big ballads and the way this one starts is reminiscent of everything we know and love about Harem Scarem. The vocal matches the recent output style of the band, as does the big chorus which features another killer melody.
Calm Before The Storm is another big uptempo rocker with a dark edge and a flurry of drums and guitars. Modern in its vocal approach and thumping drum beat, but once again, the guys deliver big time when the chorus arrives.
I love the dark and moody acoustic driven ballad Nothing Without You. It reminds me of the Overload album again, with the slight Beatles influence and some orchestral backing and is another big classy Harem ballad.
Both the Japanese and European versions close off with their own exclusive acoustic bonus tracks that don't add any real value to the albums, but are nice enough.
The Bottom Line
It is hard not to veer off into a lengthy salute to one of the finest melodic rock groups that I have been fortunate enough to include in this site, personally meet on several occasions, and introduce to many others. Of all the bands featured on this site, Harem Scarem still remain the biggest surprise to those that have never heard of the band before hand. Their legacy will remain strong for years to come and their songwriting abilities and overall consistency will be near impossible to challenge.
I've been accused in the past of consistently giving these guys high scores, but when an artist delivers quality almost every time, then why should they not be recognized for that – even if the style diverts from the expected sometimes.
That all said, I'll stick to the script and simply close off this chapter of melodic rock history by stating that Hope is yet another high caliber release from the band that will suit the vast majority of die-hard fans who have appreciated their talents over the years.
Thank you Harem Scarem.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Harem Scarem
· Mood Swings
· Voice Of Reason
· Believe / Karma Cleansing
· Big Bang Theory
· Rubber - Rubber
· Rubber - Ultra Feel
· Weight Of The World
· Higher
· Overload
· Human Nature
· Hope

Line Up:
· Harry Hess: Vocals, Keyboards, Guitars
· Pete Lesperance: Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
· Creighton Doane: Drums
· Barry Donaghy: Bass

Essential For Fans Of:
· Harem Scarem
Track Listing
· Watch Your Back *
· Time Bomb
· Hope
· Days Are Numbered *
· Dark Times *
· Beyond Repair *
· Never Too Late
· Shooting Star *
· Calm Before The Storm *
· Nothing Without You
· Higher (Acoustic)(Europe Only)
· Higher (Acoustic)(Japan Only)

--*Best Tracks


23/02/10: Brad - bdame33@comcast.net
Rating: 90
These guys never failed to please me when I became a fan in the early 2000's thanks to this very website. This last release in their career isn't quite as strong as others throughout the decade (see "Weight of the World"--an all-time great one), but it is still excellent. The guys surprisingly go a bit modern in spots, which was gutsy but works very well. "Watch Your Back" and "Days Are Numbered" are among the many melodic/modern highlights. And for sure, hearing the final track on the final album, an acoustic cover of the terrific "Higher", I couldn't help but get goosebumps while thinking the guys were truly going out in style.

These guys never made it big outside of melodic rock circles, which is criminal. They truly had a wonderful career, this album being the last of many, many highlights.

08/08/08: John Elway - megjimp@cableone.net
Rating: 60
Jeez, these guys must be one of the most underachieving bands in the genre. Of all the stuff they've done, only a couple releases stand out; this is definitely not one of them. These songs are so forgetable it's not even funny. Would it kill them to throw a catchy chorus on a song these days!? These guys are sleep walking at this point. Just a gutless effort, really. Good riddance.

02/08/08: Taylor Sapp - sapp_taylor@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
Also a longtime fan of HS. A wonderful farewell album. I liked the "Overload" album but this is their best in a slightly darker vibe since "Voice of Reason"
"Days are Numbered" "Dark Times" "Nothing Without You" are all great but every song on here is solid, same as usual!
I will miss you guys!

28/07/08: Alan - sound95@aol.com
Rating: 94
I really, really like this disc. I didn't know what to expect with this being there last disc but was very happy indeed. I loved Human Nature so I wasnt sure were this disc would take me. The opening track is killer, what a way to start....from there its a wild ride.
Harem Scarem, thank you, once again, you hit the nail on right on the head.....ROCK AND ROLL OVER!

16/07/08: Lohum - xeonspeed@hotmail.com
Rating: 80
at last my copy arrived today, first of all this is waaaay better than Human Nature which i consider their weakest album of all time.

i'll give you an honest song by song without being caught by any emotions of this being Harem Scarems last album :

1. Watch Your Back - i thought this song was boring at first, but the more i listened to it the more i liked it, but still a good song. 7/10

2. Time Bomb - a good song, this is exactly the KARMA CLEANSING song clone but the chorus is different and not as immediate yet i still like it because i loved the song Karma Cleansing. 8/10

3. Hope - a very good song and a great Chorus but hampered and not keeping the momentum to make you wow. 8/10

4. Days Are Numbered - awesome song, i like it start to finish, could've used a tiny bit more power but all in all a highlight of the album with a great chorus. 9/10

5. Dark Times - SUPERB song in every way, the chorus is awesome and the guitar/vocals is peachy. 9/10

6. Beyond Repair - this is a love and hate affair for me, i love it and hate it at the same time, at times i thought it's great other times i thought it's a filler, the chorus saves this song though. 7/10

7. Never Too Late - the best song of the album for sure, sound like something from ADRIANGALE mixed with WEIGHT OF THE WORLD. 10/10

8. Shooting Star - this could've been the best song ever written by Harem Scarem, the Intro with keyboard/bass/guitar is the best EVER, once Harry start singing the song goes commercial and to put it honestly IT SUCKS, this could've been a song lifted from the very 1st album of harem scarem and Mood Swings, instead it was ruined "beyond repair". not once in all these years have i been disappointed so much for a HS song. i'll give it a 10/10 intro and 1/10 the rest. sorry. :(

9 - Calm Before The Storm - i don't like it much, too vague of a song that i just can't get into. 2/10

10 - Nothing Without You - now that's a wonderful balland song, very emotional, perfect delivery, great "queenish" style and a bit like "IT AIN'T OVER" from weight of the world, awesome way to close the album. 10/10

11. Higher (acoustic) - better than the original which had drums and distortions plus theres a difference in how the BASS is played during the last repetition of the Chorus. 10/10


Conclusion - i reckon you could've sit down a tiny bit longer because at times a couple of songs seem like slapped together, some of PETE solos are a bit lifeless at time, more like a guitar hero showcasing his abilities than proper playing as if he's not enjoying what he's playing but playing it just to play (makes sense?), just listen to the solos of NEAL SCHON in most Journey albums to understand what i mean, now that's how you play a solo no matter if it's rockish or a ballad and give people the shivers.

PETE is an impressive guitarist technically and i still play MANDY on my guitar so i'm a fan, so i'm looking forward to any new project.

Thanks HAREM SCAREM for this album and i'm looking forward to ANY new project HESS and PETE (or the rest of the band) might embrace.

A LONG TIME FAN.

13/07/08: David - incolor95@aol.com
Rating: 91
Very excellent disc indeed. I am going to miss this band. Its a sad day when bands this good can't even get a cd released in the United States. I very much enjoyed Human Nature, this is a darker disc but it still has me humming and taping my toes.
I have not yet found my favorite tune on this disc yet but Beyond Repair is getting many repeat listenings.
Cheers Harem Scarem / Rubber for all the years of pure enjoyement you have brought to your fans.

12/07/08: L.J. - ljnavarro@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
Best album of the Harem Scarem's second era.
I HOPE that it will not be the last.

12/07/08: Doug Meister - longlivehs@yahoo.com
Rating: 97
I remember the first time I heard of Harem Scarem. It was on a Friday evening at my buddies house after work - actually a whole bunch of guys renting a house in north Toronto. Sitting around having a few beers before we hit the local bar scene. The televison in the backgorund was on low and over the loud chatter I noticed a video of a band playing and even as my ears strained to hear the tune I knew it was something special. After the song played out I managed to read who it was.....Harem Scarem - Slowly Sliping Away. Next morning I am at the local mall picking up their debut CD that was just released and I played the hell out of it that summer. Today I own every single relaease they have ever put out. Saw them in concert once years ago and met Pete and Darren last summer at a local function. Let me tell you that Darrem Smith is a class act and a wonderful being. He talked,allowed photos and spent time with my son and I. Yeah thats right I don't do the bar scene any more - married with kids. That is just my point I don't think there is any other band that I can think of... that I have grown with like Harem Scarem. So I just want to say thank you to the band for all the great music over the years,and this final release is bitter sweet for me. It is awesome however I can't help but feel regret knowing that this is probably the last one. The only thing that would have added to this release making it more special - especially for a long time fan would be the addition of a couple of more tunes....10 just too short considering this is the last one. The liner notes could have had a message from Pete and Harry summing things up as well. Why the bad chose not to do this is beyond me! Anyway I just want to say thanks and I will always be a fan!

Long Live - HAREM SCAREM!!!!!

11/07/08: Steve Cresswell - cresswell2@blueyonder.co.uk
Rating: 95
Wow! I'm amazed as I thought by now there'd be lots of low marks and whinges about this final album from the legends of Harem Scarem being 'too this', 'too little that' or 'too much the other' but fair play some really balanced positive reviews of a thoroughly excellent album to close the career of the most consistent band in melodic rock history.

You might gather that I like the band (and no my real name is not H. Hess writing under a different name honest!). This album for me is yet another slice of superb music with outstanding choruses, memorable tunes and passionate emotion flowing through the songs, whether in angst and frustration or in other ways.

Put simply, love it, love them and gonna miss their albums every 18 months/2 years massively. Petra, Harem Scarem, Audio Adrenaline and now talk of the end for Bon Jovi! It's all too much for one melodic rock lover to take! Good job for the bank balance though as could save me a few quid in the coming years with foster kids on the way!!

Thanks to Harry, Pete, Creighton, Barry and Darren Smith and all past members of Harem Scarem for an incredible catalogue of classic albums of which this final album 'Hope' can take it's rightful place as another CD to be very proud of. Like Petra, Harem Scarem have mastered the art of finishing on a high!!

Steve.

09/07/08: Craig - bisho72@optusnet.com.au
Rating: 96
Definitely the closest HS have come to repeating VOICE OF REASON but it has more in common with the OVERLOAD album in that both lack the sheer power and conviction of VOR. This is because they lay their foundations around short catchy pop songs the boys have built their modern career on. Whereas VOR was not restricted to this type of formula and the sound was of a band still growing. The band has changed so much over the years that it is impossible to compare then & now anyway!

To the songs then:

WATCH YOUR BACK – The boys have produced better openers than this one but it shows right from the start that this album has a darker tone than the last.

TIME BOMB – Very nu-breed beginning with a cool bass riff but turns darker 30 seconds in with Pete tuning down his guitar. I can see what Andrew means with the crashing of the cymbal but it doesn’t distract from what is a bloody good song! Very Weight Of The World in its approach, growing on me with every listen and could become one of my favourites.

HOPE – The title track harks back to Believe/Karma days. Structured just like most of the tracks from that era with catchy verses and dark heavy choruses. Upon first listen this song never really grabbed me, but it sure is a real grower!

DAYS ARE NUMBERED - Now we're talking!!! Probably the best song on here, slow and moody verses like the tracks before it but with a wet dream chorus. Catchy as hell and I cannot get it out of my head!

DARK TIMES - The closest sounding guitar work to the Voice Of Reason album with an awesome verse/bridge. The chorus seems a little weak on first listen but it sticks in your head after a few spins.

BEYOND REPAIR - Starts off very dark but turns in a killer bridge/chorus and Pete’s solo is brilliant. A modern day version of the VOR era. Definite favourite!

NEVER TOO LATE - Pete is all over this one. Just listen to his melodies throughout the song. The only distraction is the slow-down solo, a trend that seems to at times, hamper a few of the songs on the album. Could have easily been called Human Nature 2!

SHOOTING STAR - Sounds like it was lifted from the Overload sessions, an up-tempo power ballad with another chorus you will be singing for days. Pure genius!

CALM BEFORE THE STORM - Great modern moody song that doesn't let loose until the chorus kicks in. The rhythm throughout is killer!

NOTHING WITHOUT YOU - Typical Harem ballad that also sounds a lot like Harry's solo album. He sings his ass off come chorus time with all the angst he can muster. “It’s hard to walk away… I’m nothing without you.” It hits like a nail to the heart of this fan and is one brilliant swansong!

STRANGER THAN LOVE (acoustic) - Buy the Japanese version, as it is the only copy of the album with this track. It is worth the extra couple of bucks you pay for it!

I almost shed a tear knowing that I will not hear anything else from the boys beyond this point. They have sort of said goodbye before, so I keep my fingers crossed that this is not the last chapter in a brilliant career!

09/07/08: Splash777 - Splash777@msn.com
Rating: 95
Harem Scarem sign off with a great album. The band actually sound great here and with the focus they had writing an album to complete their career as Harem Scarem invigorated the band and has signaled to me at least this won't be the end of the band. They can't walk away from this considering it is their bread and butter. I'd be surprised if they don't get back together and follow this up with a new album.

08/07/08: YNGWIEVIKING - cedric.vacquier@wanadoo.fr
Rating: 80
Not their best-not a classic , but still some huge songwriting !
Darker as the great "voice of reason"with some "weight of the world" elements in it !
indeed a smart buy !

08/07/08: Legumo - scvido@yahoo.com
Rating: 85
i've got the album, the songs are very good and remind me of Voice Of Reason which is always great.

NOTHING WITHOUT YOU is one of the best ballads in a long time, excellent in every sense, my favorite song of the album.

Time Bomb too.

this is a must get album and even if you dont want it you need to buy it, say thanks to HAREM SCAREM and give them the kudos one last time.

farewell HAREM, you've destroyed my heart with the disband but ok, hope all goes well. ;)

05/07/08: Chris - doubleeclipse@gmx.de
Rating: 100
Got my Japanese Copy of Hope today and the Acoustic Version of Stranger than love kills !!! Thank you so much for this....

I am happy now...

But you guys can`t say goodbye to the Fans now, we need more :(

01/07/08: Chris - doubleeclipse@gmx.de
Rating: 92
First of all, Frontiers do begin to suck with Promos that have Voiceovers every minute when someone with a terrible broken English says : Yuu arrre lizsdenin to da new HS Album Hopp !!!

Good god, unbelievable !!! Well the music, I wanna make it short, this Album is very good produced, well done.

The Music includes more of the big choirs like in the past, it has catchy songs, sometimes they are very hard ( hard for Harem Scarem ) but in the middle u have those godlike choruswork which we all love Harem Scarem for.

Songs like Hope & Timebomb are absolutely killer, to sum it up :

10 Songs, 9 songs are very very good, one is just ok and u get a European Bonus Track which has already been released before.

So u better do like me, order the Japanese Version with the Acoustic Bonus Track Stranger than love.

No matter what you do, you need to own this Album, it is Killer - and don`t let yourself scare away from people who say that it sounds a bit like Voice of Reason, for me it doesn`t, buy it !!!


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