Reviews March/07

Harem Scarem / Human Nature / CD 82998209672


Harem Scarem - Their best since Mood Swings! Tracklisting:Human Nature; Next Time around; Caught up in your World; Reality; Hanging on; Don't throw it away; Give Love/Get Love; 21; Starlight; Going under; Tomorrow may be gone.

Harem Scarem has never been afraid of doing what they fancied - despite the reviews all over the world. Fans has been asking for a "Mood Swings 2" since .... ehh, "Mood Swings". But the band were never afraid of trying and pushing new musical frontiers - both as Rubber and under the Harem Scarem moniker!
The band has appealed to just about all melodic rock lovers over the years, so with each release there is a wide discussion among the many fans about style, sound and individual preferences for different records throughout the Canadian bands career. But the fans always has stayed true! I guess that everyone has a favourite album, but I like the different albums at different times - or shall I say in different moods;-) Harem Scarem though has always included several new classic melodic rock songs and a few fresh twists as well on every single album.
"Human Nature" is therefore a big step forward and a big step backwards at the same time. The overall impression is that it is a more melodic release and sees the band pump out some huge AOR harmonies like in the good ole days with a cocktail of modern production style and "hip" direction which is more in the vein of recent work...
I think Harem Scarem has made one hell of an album here, its so hard to find a favorite song - but the magnificent duo of "Don't throw it away" and "Give Love/Get Love" with its obvius influences from Queen is an absolute blast - but also the title track is a classic in spe. But so is "Reality" and "Going under"...
All in all this a magnificent record from Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance, Creighton Doane and Barry Donaghy. It is a very mature record from a very mature band, that still amazes their fans with great songs, great production and great musicianship - outstanding!

Stormzone / Caught in the Act / ESM 143


Stormzone - Great classic melodic powerful rock! Tracklisting:Spellbound; Hold onto her Love; Stranger Things have happened; Nervous breakdown; Crying in the Rain; Call of the Wild; Beating of a Heart; New World; Tugging at my Heartstrings; Sky High; Rock on through the Night.

Stormzone is a band hailing from Northern Ireland - Belfast, to be prcise. Vocalist John "Harv" Harbinson has previously been a member of local acts such as Den Of Thieves, Emerald, No Sweat and Sweet Savage. You may also remember that he released an independent soloalbum simply called "Harv - Back". Like earlier Harv is back with a vengeance, the line up is completed by Keith Harris on guitar, Peter Macken on bass, Stevie Prosser on keyboards and Julian Watson on drums. They have landed a deal with Escape Music, who provides an excellent production. And not to forget the magnificent artwork on the cover by Rodney Matthew (Magnum) - so all in all its a very professional product.
Stormzone play according to their press material a nice mixture of rock in the vein of Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy. But there is also influence by the later NWOBHM. Despite organs and significant vocals/guitar-duel more towards bands like Lion, Praying Mantis - but of course with the attitude from the previous mentioned acts.
"Caught In The Act" is very much an uptempo album with screaming guitars, wailing keyboards (synth and hammond), pounding bass-lines, and slamming drums. The production is very much bach to the mid 80's - perfect for a band like this and with this approach. "Harv" is a over-the-top, world class vocalist in the classic school of Kal Swann (Lion, Tytan) and he can sing everything from the Ivan Rebroff to falsetto like the Wiener Sänger Knaben - he has a very big potential. Some track are ra-makes of tracks already on Harv's solo album. There are rockers like "Hold On To Her Love", "Crying In The Rain", "Stranger Things Have Happened", "Tuggin At My Heartstrings" and "Rock On Through The Night". All excellent melodic hardrock with great attitude. But already Opener "Spellbound" set the pace and standard of the entire CD with its full frontal attack, and it takes off from there and only gets better. My favorite track is the fun and uptempo "New World" - wich reminds me of Deep Purple or even Dio.
All in all this is truly something for the ones into good cleen family entertainment of "classic" melodic rock in the British way from the mid 80's. Brought into the new millenium with good production and updated attitude... Great! The latest news is that John "Harv" Harbinson is the new frontman in Fastway - giving a live gig at this years SwedenRock Festival.

Norway / Rising up from the Ashes / MTM 0681-181


Norway - a very welcome! Tracklisting:Save me; Anything at all; Only one I need; American Girl; The Power of Gold; Since yo've been gone; Tell me; Won't let you down; Haunted.

Norway has always has an impact on me... their first two albums was classy melodic rock - thought under-produced, but with great melodies and hooks. But as they got their new singer Dave Baldwin - they got even more interesting. “Rising Up From The Ashes" contains tons and tons of American smooth AOR tunes - with a lot of power.
The band still has a "classic" American AOR sound, but on this new release they have lifted it up a bit making the album a more significant and personal one. Good examples of that are the magnificent opening duo of "Save Me" and "Anything At All", both really catchy numbers with great chorusses and great arrangements. The acoustic ballad "Only One I Need" is also okay while "American Girl" brings back sweet memories of the first Danger Danger album both regarding the lyrics and the music. The mighty "The Power Of Gold" is another new path the band seems to discover, its unusual lyrics and catchy melodies make it the second highlight (besides the openers) in my humble opinion, Baldwin has put his fingers on that one. "Since You’ve Been Gone" reminds me more of the first two albums of the band yet its melodies are really catchy, new vocalist Dave Baldwin shines on this one, very similar to Journey's Steve Perry. Towards the end of the album a few fillers show up - as it did on their first two. But the closing track "Haunted" with almost 8 minutes on the counter - i like it.
9 tracks altogether, probably the right length for an album - i just mis a few rockers at the end. But hey, you can't have it all;-) All in all "Rising up from the Ashes" is a big step forward compared with its predecessors. So, if you liked their first two albums you will love this - and if you didn't, you will like this one;-).

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2007