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Hartmann - Balance

by YngwieViking at 29 May 2012, 1:58 AM

I’m a big fan of AT VANCE; I was already an unconditional supporter when Oliver Hartmann was still fronting the German band, with a few great records as “Heart of Steel” and “Dragonchaser”. I was very disappointed by the split. Yet AT VANCE still provide some great music, and Mr. Hartmannoutside of his numerous side-projects, also created something of his own and quite special with his solo career. So we have two for the price of one, a cool deal. I was impressed, I mean very impressed by his live performance with AVANTASIA both in the lead guitar spot, while providing some huge harmonised backing vocals, and most of all filling for Russell Allen’s lead vocals shoes with some impressive dexterity and sheer simplicity.

The HARTMANN records are full of tasty but quite slow paced AOR or even Classic Rock songs, very different from our every day galloping epic Power Metal or Neo-Classic Metal. For the fourth album, it's once again the same case, but I also have to say that the voice of Hartmannis also much more in the forefront and he sounds more powerful than in the previous CDs, much more like his GENIUS or EMPTY TREMORS days. Anyway, the third album was disappointing, I’ll dare to say that this "Balance" is his best solo album. The title fits quite well with the musical concept. Indeed well balanced. The band HARTMANN plays like a real band, and the chemistry-team here isn’t fake, the sincerity is obvious and pretty clear as the sound of this album is organic and spontaneous. The production and the mix are in the same juicy manner with a full spectrum, thanks to Sascha Paeth’s magic.

The TEARS FOR FEARS cover "Shout", is one of the highlights of the album, with good rendition of the original version but in a darker colour filter & in a heavier mood. Nevertheless the Oliver Hartmann's followers know that, this song was already covered in the early AT VANCE Days, and it was featured in the Japanese & South America edition of “No Escape” in 1999. Of course, the result is different but still highly zestful & jubilant. The very Zen and confined ambiance of numbers like “From a Star” or “Fall From Grace” is opposed to some more hot rocking tracks but still with a feeling of maturity and an absolute melodic control sensation.

Best tracks are "Like A River", "Fool for You", "After the Love Has Gone" or "Save Me". Others great songs: "You Are the One", "The Best Is Yet To Come" or "All My Life" that are more direct but still entertaining. Only a weak moment in my humble opinion, I don't get the point of the intro lick for the song "Dance on the Wire": An unnecessary tribute to "Sweet Home Alabama".

The word AOR could divert some, but here I mean Adult Oriented Rock with a big A, “no cheesy chorus with cheap bontempi keyboards in a calibrated 3 minutes track” but a real Classic Melodic Hard Rock in the best way of the word, with some slight euh…, let's say Modern ok, not Modern. But with a contemporary touch.

4 Star Rating

1. All My Life
2. Like a River
3. You Are the One
4. Fool for You
5. After the Love Is Gone
6. Save Me
7. Fall from Grace
8. From a Star
9. Dance on the Wire
10. Shout
11. Time to Face the Truth
12. The Best Is Yet to Come
Oliver Hartmann – Lead Vocals/Guitars
Mario Reck – Guitars
Armin Donderer – Bass
Dario Ciccioni – Drums
Record Label: Avenue of Allies


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Edited 02 February 2023

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