Released: 2005, Frontiers Records/Atenzia Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Oliver Hartmann, the ex-vocalist of At Vance and a guest on the metal opera Avantasia, is now releasing his first solo album. Oliver was born in 1970 and kicked off his musical career at age 10 when he started to play guitar. At 13 he formed his first band and by the age of 19 he formed the hardrock band Heat that gained some success in his native Germany. He’s been a part of several hardrock acts and formed, together with Olaf Lenk, the hardrock/metal act At Vance. The band recorded 4 albums and did a lot of touring before Oliver left the band due to some personal problems. After that his main focus was on writing songs for a solo album, besides lending his voice to various bands and projects like Avantasia, another metal opera called Genius, Rhapsody and more. When he doesn’t write songs he also appears at clubs across Germany and besides being a vocalist he also handles the guitar.
Well, by that we have reached the essence of this review, Oliver’s solo album OUT IN THE COLD. The bio have this to say about the album “He was able to record a mature rock album which showcase his amazing vocal and songwriting abilities. Blending such diverse influences from the British melodic hardrock sound of Strangways and Dare, to the classic hard rock of Whitesnake and Giant”.
Already here I am a bit suspicious of what’s been said in the bio because the music is listed as melodic rock and nothing more, but I would rather define it as very melodic hardrock instead. And I wasn’t too surprised when I saw all the ballads on the album because what you can expect when you listen to a genre like this.
The up tempo ballads are called “Brazen”, “Can You Tell Me Where Love Has Gone”. The pure ballads are represented by “I Will Carry On” where Oliver has added strings to make the song even more ballad like, then we have “The Journey” and “Into the Light” that also can be categorized as being ballads.
Oliver has also used strings in other songs not only the ballads and he has also put in some keyboard play in some of the songs. Even the guitar play is more of the melodic kind. It says this in the info note “Out in the cold is Oliver Hartmanns debut solo album where he is able to incorporate all the influences that shaped up his voice as one of the best ones in the new rock music scene”.
The more melodic hardrock tracks are called “What if I”, “How Long”, “Who Do You Think That You Are”. And the melodic hardrock tracks that are combined with melodic rock are named “Alive Again”, “Out in the Cold” and “The same again”.
Oliver has done almost everything on the album like singing and written all the material and has produced as well as playing both keyboard and guitar. Oliver have also got some help from some well known German musicians like Bodo on drums from MSG and Armin on bass from Paradox.
The well known Sascha Path (Rhapsody, Kamelot, Angra, Edguy etc) is responsible for the production together with Oliver and those two have also done the mixing of the album. The guys have done an OK standard production with nothing out of the ordinary with Oliver’s voice in main focus.
Oliver has put 12 tracks on his first solo album and that includes a few covers. One is the song “Brazen” originally done by Skunk Anansie. A lot of Oliver’s lyrics seem to be about love and the material feels a bit unvaried and plain to stick to my ears after several of listenings. It feels like there a too many ballads and too many songs and he should have stayed on 10 instead of 12.
To sum up the whole “Out in the Cold” experience I can say that the album feels too shattered and the material is too plain to make a lasting impression on me. The strings are too heavily used and the cover feels incredibly boring. The positive things I can mention are the OK production and by all means Oliver’s voice.
You have to be a fan of Oliver to appreciate this otherwise you shouldn’t buy this in the first place. I have managed to find a few killer tracks though and those are “What if I”, “How Long” and “What Do You Think That You Are”.