Friday, April 27, 2012


Avenue Of Allies

When Oliver Hartmann's debut album, "Out In The Cold", was released in 2005 it was meet with rave reviews. The former At Vance front man (who has also been heard on rock operas such as Avantasia, Aina and Genius as well as guesting on many productions by acts like Hammerfall, Edguy, Helloween, Lunatica, Rhapsody, Soul Seller and Empty Tremor) ended up with numerous "Album Of The Month" awards and even a "Debut Album Of The Year" award. The same top-notch melodic rock that was on display on "Out In The Cold" is also present on this, the 4th release from Hartmann. The songs, with the obvious exception of the cover of "Shout" (Tears For Fears), were mostly written by Oliver Hartmann himself and fall squarely into the melodic rock/AOR/melodic metal catigory. The album was mixed by Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Edguy, Epica, Kamelot) at Gate Studios, Wolfsburg, Germany and from the opening moments of "All My Life" offers a great reason to simply sit back and soak in the sounds of Hartmann's powerful voice. "Like A Rive" will resonate well with melodic radio rock fans as will "You Are The One". The mid-range rock of "Fool For You" and "Save Me" are good, but it's a shame that as the album unfolds the songs tend to slow down a bit. It's not as if Hartmann moves completely away from the rock. On cuts like the diverse "Fall From Grace" Hartmann can be heard pulling the power rock riffs out of the garage. He thinks about taking the guitar rock for a quick ride, but does not seem to make it past the end of the drive way. It is what it is though and even I will admit that a track like the power ballad “After The Love Is Gone” is well-written and executed. So is the track “From A Star”. While the slower cuts might take away a little of the edge of "Balance" they are so well done that it's hard to argue against them. It must be said though that when the opening moments of “Dance On The Wire" came on I had to double check to make sure it wasn't a cover of "Sweet Home Alabama". I was fully expecting someone to tell me "turn it up"! While that number isn't a cover Hartmann does tackle the Tears For Fears number "Shout". Their cover version of the song actually pulls out the harder rock that has been patiently waiting to be released since "Save Me". It's a fun number that works well done up garage rock style. "Time To Face The Truth" turns the mood around though by bringing back the smooth sounds of AOR/melodic rock before "The Best Is Yet To Come" finally tells you it's time to settle down for the night with a glass of wine and a good book. It's hard to argue with the fact that relaxation (and wine!) might just be the ticket in this high paced world. "Balance" might not be the best choice of album titles if your talking about the balance between rockers ("All My Life") and ballads ("After The Love Is Gone") as the album certainly seems to favor the slower cuts. But, if your talking about a nice balance of various moods and emotions then "Balance" is a sure-fire winner. If your in mood for sincere melodic rock that is played with both passion and professionalism then "Balance" is the way to go.

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Anonymous Chris Bayer said...

I was at the release party of „Balance” yesterday in Aschaffenburg. It was epic, it was fresh, it showed the passion of each musician, which are all pros for years.
It's a shame, that his music isn't known (yet) worlwide. There is more potential for hits than in many other songs you get to hear on the radio today.
This album is excellent work.
Buy, enjoy and tell everyone you know!

4:09 AM  

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