At Vance

Ride The Sky

Written by: EW on 29/09/2009 00:15:55

Beginning their journey at the tail-end of the 20th Century, Germany's At Vance have only now come across my radar with the release of album no. 8, "Ride The Sky", and a few listens in I can understandably see why. Combining all the usual elements of power metal with a classical element (thus finding themselves labelled as 'Neoclassical metal'), this kind of harmless metal is closer to bands like Europe than the murky end of the metal spectrum I tend to get involved with on a daily basis. That is not to say I don't like to dabble in the light from time to time, and while "Ride The Sky" won't be my first choice of listening when such occasions do arise, it is at least a more pleasant listen than most contenders that get thrown up by unsuspecting labels only to be struck right back down by people like me who won't be bought into their claims of "Band X's best album so far!!!".

There are 11 songs on here, most of them falling in the 'competent' range rather 'good', but let's point out the one you should be avoiding in the manner of an accusatory Italian at an intelligence convention - "You And I". Being soppier than a glass of red wine while watching a chick flick on Valentine's Day, it's only conceivable use will be as a 'first dance' song at the wedding of mulleted Germans. That's if isn't deemed too poncy of course, and replaced by a more rollicking Bon Jovi song. Or Van Morrison song.

Thankfully the rest of the album isn't so abhorrent otherwise surviving an album of that crap would've been harder than squeezing out a watermelon. From your nostril. The majority of the album, from the likes of "Last In Line", "Ride The Sky" and "End Of Days" is a recipe of well-played and well-produced power metal retaining a stronger sense of direction than the piles of shit spat out by bands like Mystic Prophecy and Dragonforce in recent times. The potential within the musicians compiling At Vance (3 guys having joined since 2007 accompanying founder guitarist/keyboardist Olaf Lenk) is clear at all moments through the evident professional composition; even in "You And I" it must be added. This technical proficiency is best spotted though in the band's 'cover' of one small part of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" concerto, here titled as "Vivaldi - Summer 2nd Set". I have found myself repeating this interesting and beguiling piece unlike any other track on the album; the manner in which At Vance have 'sampled' a section of the larger piece of work is as clear an indication as any other of how interlinked heavy metal and classical music can be, and evidently are.

Where the medium pace of the album begins to negatively affect the quality of the album early on, it takes until "End Of Days" when the band finally pick up a decent amount of speed in a manner most reminiscent of another classically-influenced band, Stratovarius. However to pick out any 'great' songs is a futile exercise in an album where the keyboards and lead guitar argue over which should play a greater role in pushing the songs along, not for the first time resulting in rhythms that are wholly listenable yet entirely unmemorable, an illness sadly widespread in much of the metal world today.

The niceness of "Ride The Sky" is somewhat the saviour overall; At Vance aren't trying to be the fastest or heaviest and to take them at face value is the name of the game but as an exercise in polite, inoffensive metal they have done well even to get a

.

Download: Vivaldi - Summer 2nd Set, End Of Days
For The Fans Of: Axxis, Stratovarius, Royal Hunt
Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.09.2009
AFM Records

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