Harem Scarem - Mood Swings
Warner Music
Melodic Hard Rock
12 songs (44'13)
Release year: 1993
Harem Scarem, Warner Music
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

When you’ve been away for awhile from something that you once worked fervently for it takes some time to get back in the swing of things. That’s why this week after a mini hiatus I’m coming back with an archive of one of my personal favorites, Canadian Melodic Rockers Harem Scarem and their sophomore release, Mood Swings. Because of the fact that many people don’t even know that good 80’s influenced hard rock existed past the days of Poison, Harem Scarem has had little success commercially outside of the modest fame in their home country or the near mythic status they have in Japan. This is a shame because they have created some spectacular songs and even soon to be classic albums for this genre.

The self titled debut was a sensational start for Harem Scarem with its sleek AOR anthems, however it lacked anything remotely heavy on it. Because of this the guys went into the studio to record Mood Swings with some bite. It was time to turn the amps to eleven and crank out some hard hitting tunes. The difference is noticeable from the very start with the slithering intro of Saviors Never Cry. After the guitar riff slinks around your head guitarist Pete Lesperance, throws out some hammering power chords to get things going. Come chorus time it’s familiar territory with highly infectious melodies emanating from Harry Hess’ voice or the accompanying guitar. Both instruments are played off each other perfectly which is one of this band’s special traits. One of the other harder edged tracks Sentimental Blvd. ends up being the album’s unheard smash hit, a song that every time I hear it I wonder how in the world this wasn’t on every rock station in America. Brilliant in it’s simplicity, this is propelled by a simple driving chord progression and a hint of keyboards and short punctuated verses. However it is the huge sing along bridge and chorus that will force this track into your head and never leave. I think the individual members of the group, or at least vocalist Hess, knows Sentimental Blvd. is a career defining song. That’s probably why Hess re-recorded it for his 2003 solo release. Other choice cuts include Change Comes Around with its groovy guitar intro and the summer cruising tune Had Enough. Both tracks contain quality ingredients in the melodies, solos, and performances by the group. When the power ballads decide to stroll into the scene I can almost see Harem Scarem circa 1993 getting stoked in the studio. For them ballads are their specialty and they show everybody why. The first swooner, Stranger Than Love, is a great example of Def Leppard worship. Mind you I’m talking about the Pyromania - Adrenalize era. The use of layered harmonized voices is massive, it almost seems like the sequel to Hysteria upon first listen. Equally as impressive is If There Was A Time although this one ups the guitar usage just a little bit more.

Melodic Hard Rock groups are hard to come by these days. Luckily for fans of this type of music the few bands that do decide to partake in this genre are generally of high quality. Mood Swings is one outstanding album alongside many others such as Electrified (Pink Cream 69), Back To The Kingdom (Axxis), Fireworks (Bonfire), and almost the entire discography of Pretty Maids. Following the release of Mood Swings Harem Scarem decided to delve into playing “modern” rock which ended up dividing their fans quite spectacularly. It wasn’t until 2002’s Weight Of The World that Harem Scarem return to the path that was paved by Mood Swings.

Killing Songs :
If There Was A Time, Sentimental Blvd, No Justice, and Saviors Never Cry
Ben quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Harem Scarem that we have reviewed:
Harem Scarem - Change The World reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - United reviewed by Ben and quoted 88 / 100
Harem Scarem - Human Nature reviewed by Ben and quoted 89 / 100
Harem Scarem - Overload reviewed by Ben and quoted 55 / 100
Harem Scarem - The Early Years reviewed by Ben and quoted 76 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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