|Review: At Vance - Heart of Steel|
|Heart of Steel|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2000
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: September 1, 2015
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:Heart of Steel
When it comes to the German Power Metal scene of the late 90s/early 2000s people tend to overlook At Vance, and it's a crying shame, as they produced some top notch stuff during that period. Take Heart of Steel, for instance. This was their second record after a home-produced debut, and it was a massive step up in both songwriting and execution. The basic At Vance formula was always Rainbow meets Stratovarius, with tons of classical overtones and a penchant for Abba covers, which you nearly always got. This one has a stirring rendition of "SOS", and whether you like that song or not, you can't deny At Vance play it better than anyone has before or since.
The album is strongest during the first half, where most of the killer cuts lie. It opens with the double-kicked "Soldier of Time", which is basically German Power Metal summed up in one track. We move onto "The Brave and The Strong", featuring some goofy but fun choirs from Oliver Hartmann, whose voice will always be associated with this band, as it was with At Vance that he did his best work. He sounds like all of the Rainbow vocalists thrown together, and I'm surprised Malmsteen never picked him up when he left. The title track is a mid-paced stomper with a great chorus, yet later on the mood dips into a more melancholic stage, with more emphasis on the keys and a touch of arctic atmosphere in tunes like "Goodbye" and the yearning "Why Do You Cry?"
In all, this is a good example of At Vance's unique style, so fans of neo-classical Power Metal with a hard rock touch need to grab it pronto. They made better albums than this later on, but this would be a good starting point.
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