[published]: 2008 November 15
[in]: Harvest Moon Music
[article]: 'Bitter Suite-Crime of Passion' album review
[by]: Dave

Bitter Suite is a one-off project of Canadian singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer David J. Petovar, who wrote all of the songs that appear on Crime of Love back in 1991 and 1992.

Several stalwarts of the Canadian AOR scene contribute their talents to the album, including George Criston (Kick Axe), Don Wilk (White Wolf), and Craig Brooks (Touch). It's fair to compare Bitter Suite to those bands, along with other notables such as Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite.

Crime of Love contains 13 tracks of highly melodic rock that remain upbeat and fun to listen to, despite lyrical content revolving around broken hearts and ended relationships. Criston has the lead vocal role for the first two tracks and is clearly the strongest singer on the album. While he's not quite as forceful as he was in his days with Kick Axe, he still manages to sing with plenty of power and convincing emotion. Wilk takes over vocal duties on the next three tracks, giving a bit of a grittier performance than Criston but just slightly less evocative.

Petovar himself sings on five of the remaining six tracks, which is a bit unfortunate. He has limited range and at times even sounds a tad off key, but is by no means a bad singer. Musically you get what you'd expect from a band comprised of '80s AOR veterans.

Although the guitars are a bit thin, they are expertly played by Petovar and Steve Crane. Hooky riff follows hooky riff as Crane belts out some solid solos, though it's all more elementary than flashy. What would AOR be without plenty of piano runs and keyboard atmosphere to go around? Crime of Love offers up heaping portions of those elements as well, but again it's all played rather safe without a lot of flare.

While much of the album hovers somewhat close to being monotonous, Petovar tosses in a couple of surprises to end the disc. "Forever Tonight" features Carrie Jay on vocals, who sounds a bit like a cross between Ann Wilson and Stevie Nicks.

Bringing the flow of the album to a screeching halt, however, is the final track "Bad Boy". The song features Kelly Brock behind the mic and she does an admirable job. The problem with this song is that it sounds like something that should be on a Paula Abdul album, not a melodic rock disc. Very much an '80s pop dance tune, it's completely out of place on Crime of Love. I guess Petovar had one too many Molsons when it came time to decide what songs make the album.

For melodic hard rock fans, Crime of Love is an album worth adding to your collection even though it's a bit more reserved than other recent releases. The songs are well-written and enjoyable, just don't expect anything groundbreaking.

If you can't stand AOR, I'd advise steering clear of this album no matter how much the cover photo of Jen Hilton entices you.