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Scheherezade Preak CD Cover
Image © 2000 Scheherezade/Wutang Records 

(11 December 2000) Scheherezade are a dynamic club-oriented rock band from Denver, Colorado (USA). Their self-released debut album Preak was produced by vocalist and engineer Heather Lee at the beginning of 2000. The group originated in 1998 when four musicians and long-time friends reunited to create their own unique sound. Their main focus is currently on recording their second album and may involve a move to the east coast next year. Heather told us, "We feel we can reach more people through our performances simply because there are more people to play for in the tri-state region. Exposure, marketing and promotion will be key, but we need to target the right audience."

Preak is comprised of ten original harder-edge progressive rock-oriented tracks with heavy guitar and keyboard excursions and layered vocal textures. Musical Discoveries was also provided a short demo of work in progress with tracks "Blue Star" and "Autumn." Percussion and keyboards are substantially more dominant than guitar contrasting the band's debut album sound. The new ballad "Autumn" is moody but it is also highly melodic with solo electric guitar underscoring Heather's soothing vocal layers.

Heather told us, "I wanted to include a few more songs on the demo because it would provide a better idea of which stylistic direction the band has been heading, but the studio that I work in and where we record has been booked and I can only record off hours, of which there have been few." Preak, by contrast has a heavier, mid-70s-ish Yes edge. Heather continued, "We are intentionally weeding out the 1980s 'guitar-hero' sound which you hear in some of the songs such as 'Close Proximity' and 'Road's Whisper.' These songs were written long ago and we just had to get them out of our system." A similar style is evident in the album's opening, "Stonegate."

Those familiar with the British band and Classic Rock Society favourite Fula will certainly hear a similarity to Scheherezade instrumentally and vocally in the track "Secrets," "The Chase" and "911" where keyboards and guitar blend with vocals to carry the song's melody forward. The album's darker tracks include "Tumbleweed," "Spanish Rice" and the gloomy beginning of "Close Proximity."

"Road's Whisper" is a melodic progressive rock track. It's almost spoken solo vocals are supported by backing harmonies that seamlessly blend with the instrumentals. Another progressive rock number is is "Shameless." Layers of Heather Lee's bluesy vocals soar above instense keyboard and guitar-based harmonies. We especially enjoyed the softly rocking ballad "Her Way Out" with its striking guitar solos and Heather Lee's sultry vocal lead and lovely layered backing harmonies. The album concludes with the dynamic "Close Proximity." Layers of vocals ride above a progressive and dynamically arranged instrumental with crisp percussion, a metal-edged guitar and lush keyboards. It is a fantastic concluding track.

Two tracks from the Preak album were selected to be used in the feature-length film Picture of Priority, dealing with teenage suicide. "The Chase" and "Stonegate" were chosen for a couple of the rebellious scenes. The band's debut album can be obtained at their official website and at their live performances in and around Denver. Preak effectively captures the band's sound and with its harder edge will appeal to progressive rock enthusiasts. A rather significant departure from Renaissance—who they are compared to at mp3.com—the band's music is adventurous in its genre and should be explored further online. Notable instrumental and vocal performances make the album a nice listen.

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