At Vance – Chained

Reviewed: July 2005
Released: 2005, AFM Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

At Vance is back with a new studio album called CHAINED, which is a follow up to their latest effort from 2003, THE EVIL IN YOU. The mastermind of At Vance is Olaf Lenk who formed the band in 98. Altogether, CHAINED is their sixth album so far.

The band went through a real set back 02 during the tour with Rhapsody and Angel Dust when the singer Oli Hartmann announced that he was leaving the band. Oli felt that he didn’t have enough passion for being on tour with the band; he was later replaced with the Swedish singer Mats Levén. Mats has done a lot of things including singing with Yngwie Malmsteen, Krux, Dog Face, and Southpaw and he also sang on the new Therion album.

Nothing much happened with At Vance during 03 except for a tour with Kamelot and then Olaf decided to switch the entire line up (everyone but Mats) and decided that he (Olaf) was going to take care of all the guitarplay. The new rhythm section are now John from Gallow’s Pole on bass and Mark from Metalium and Helloween on drums.

2004 began with Olaf writing new material for the new album and during the fall started the recording of CHAINED. The production was also done by Olaf and the mixing was done by Achim Köhler. Mika Jussila took care of the mastering at Finnvox Studio in Helsinki Finland. Olaf has created a production with enough space for both lead vocals and guitars and even though keyboards are used, they don’t take over.

The material on CHAINED is of a high quality straight through with nothing much to argue about. The bio lists this as power metal and as usual I’m very hesitant to agree with that description, partly because the power metal genre is quite big and partly because that’s a bit wrong description. Sure, I can agree that this is melodic power metal as well as straight heavy metal influenced by more melodic hardrock and neo-classical metal. In true power metal spirit they have used a lot of double bass pedals and also a lot of catchy refrains, there’s also a lot of tempo changes throughout the whole album so you can really say that the music fits all of the genres I mentioned.

Mats impress as always and his voice sounds, again, stunning. Olaf doesn’t only play guitar, he also handles the keyboards. John and Mark contribute with a steady foundation for the other members to lean on and they seem to be very competent musicians both of them.

The positive things with CHAINED are the high quality material and well structured songs. All of the guys are great musicians and all of them take the music to a higher level. I think that this album has great potential of becoming an album you want to hear repeatedly if you have the opportunity to hear the whole songs.

The negative things are that the label have once again ended the songs about 20 to 30 seconds so there are no ending on any songs except for two, “Chained” and “Rise from the fall”, that by the way are featured twice, one time cut down and one time fully featured as the first two tracks on the promo. I know that the label is doing this to prevent the album coming out on the internet, but honestly, there’s got to be another way to prevent that. The only result that comes out of this method is irritation of not being able to give the songs a fair judgment, ‘cause how can we give them that if we can’t hear a whole song? And that unfortunately drags down the rating. Another annoying thing with AFM is that they don’t give the promos any artwork covers; the covers are always black with the bands logo on it.

Well, the album is 50 minutes long and the first edition of it contains two bonus tracks in “Who’s fooling who” and “Flight of the bumblebee”. During April and May have the guys been out on a tour across Germany and neighbor countries together with headline act Brainstorm and opening act Mercenary, the only show outside that area was in Denmark.

Killer tracks on CHAINED are “Rise from the fall”, “Chained”, “Heaven”, “Tell me”, “Now or never”, “Run for your life” and “Two hearts”.


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Track Listing:

1) Rise from the fall
2) Heaven
3) Tell me
4) Chained
5) Now or never
6) Two hearts
7) Invention #13
8) Run/leave
9) Live for the sacred
10) Vivaldi winter
11) Run for your life

Olaf Lenk – guitar, keys
Mats Levén – lead vocals
John ABC Smith – bass
Mark Cross – drums