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At Vance - Facing Your Enemy

At Vance
Facing Your Enemy
by YngwieViking / Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 30 April 2012, 11:56 PM

YngwieViking (9/10)

In 2009 “Ride The Sky” was a fine return to the top for AT VANCE with an updated and more mature, or more Classic Hard Rock, sound, they released their best album since "Only Human"… Back then Rick Altzi (also very busy with SANDALINAS / FREQUENCY and THUNDERSTONE) was the trigger for the new start.

The Swede is such a great singer with amazing abilities combined with a spectacular range and a truly moving sensibility, but despite his Lande / Coverdale similarities, the attentive followers of the band surely will noticed that this time again, Altzi sounds almost like the original singer: Oliver Hartmann (CENTERS / AVANTASIA / HARTMANN / IRON MASK / EMPTY TREMORS / GENIUS) but also like NARNIA / DIVINEFIRE’s German Pascual this is quite obvious in the low-register… This is a good point in my mind!

This album is a little more Power Metal oriented than “Ride The Sky” was, and if the five first tracks + “Fame And Fortune” are killers (with blasting drums played by KAMELOT’s Casey Grillo) some others songs like “Don’t Dream” or “See Me Crying” are still striking… Simply more in the RAINBOW / WHITESNAKE style… The title track as an example, is the perfect 2012’s AT VANCE flag song with big chorus and a simple unless stunning reduplicate riff. The keys are present in the overall and refined sound without weakened the rhythm guitar tone and gave to the album a full & rich yet sophisticated production.

“Savior” is more like the earliest albums and quite similar to STRATOVARIUS's “Episode” era! “Tokyo” is a very interesting cover track originally recorded by CRAAFT’s mastermind Klaus Luley’s early AOR band TOKYO. Strangely Luley is back to the frontline as his new solo album “Today’s Tomorrow” was released some weeks ago and as no-less than 4 TOKYO’s CDs were re-released last year! “March Of The Dwarf” is a short Neo-Classical instrumental in the true tradition of the genre and as always a good display for the quite impressive melodic lead-guitar work provided by Olaf Lenk (aka Olaf Jung). Not a weak track so far, for me the last one with the acoustic pace is a pleasant ending for this downright recommended platter.

Steinmetal (7/10)

Unlike in past albums where there was a two year barrier, the long standing AT VANCE, lead by the exquisite guitarist Olaf Lenk, release another studio album after three years. “Facing The Enemy”, via AFM Records, maintains the same sense of melodic Heavy Metal infused together with Hard Rock in the vein of the 80s plus the virtuoso performance of Lenk that never cease to amaze with his abilities. However, unlike the last effort of the band, meaning “Ride The Sky”, the “Facing The Enemy” album did disappoint me a little bit as it was a somewhat weaker than the previous one. For some reason, while listening, I kept on thinking about the band’s past, and I won’t dwell on the vocalist issue again like I did in the past, but more into their speedy Power Metal style that once ruled their compositions. Even so, that is the adjusted direction and no one could fight it, yet I believe that the past energies were staggering.

Before I came to my early comment regarding the album’s overall rate, I had hopes for it. Though “Heaven Is Calling” was pretty solid and no more than that, “Facing The Enemy” turned out to be a golden classic and it was hard for me to let it go due to its addictive composure. Following its footsteps came “Eyes Of A Stranger”, which at first led me to believe that it was a cover song, also smacked my face with wonderful heaviness, accessibility and creative lead guitar work. However, from “Fear No Evil” and on, with the exception of “See Me Crying” and the CRAAFT cover for “Tokyo”, which is alone another blaster of Lenk’s version to the amazing musicianship of the origin, the material sounded as if it was actually repeating itself over and over. It felt a little of drag because it could have been some much more and it didn’t. Sadly I have to admit that in a way AT VANCE lost their magic a bit, especially with the ongoing shifts between Power Metal towards the Neo-Classical style, which has always been great, towards Hard Rock. Needless to say that it seems that the days of “No Escape” and “Only Human” won’t return. Nonetheless, AT VANCE had a few examples of their older selves like “Fame And Fortune” and“Saviour”, but still those couldn’t match to their older classics.

“Facing The Enemy” isn’t a bad album at all, it felt good, it still harbours the old soul of Lenk and AT VANCE, yet when it comes to the songs, those thrilled less than the older stuff that made my jaw to drop down and of course Lenk’s lead guitar ability that is mesmerizing. No one could take away that talent away from him. So its maybe better luck next time? I sure hope so.

4 Star Rating

1. Heaven is Calling
2. Facing Your Enemy
3. Eyes of a Stranger
4. Fear No Evil
5. Live & Learn
6. Don't Dream
7. See Me Crying
8. Saviour
9. Tokyo
10. March of the Dwarf
11. Fame and Fortune
12. Things I Never Needed 
Rick Altzi - Vocals
Olaf Lenk - Guitars
Wolfman Black- Bass
Casey Grillo- Drums
Record Label: AFM Records


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Edited 06 December 2022

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