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Released: 1999, Shark Records
Editor’s Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of MASTER OF PUPPETS, POWERSLAVE or SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
At Vance, the band led by guitarist Olaf Lenk has always been generally well respected but have never quite broken through into the elite level of power metal bands. The group’s neo-classical inspired power metal is almost always solid, and it all started here with NO ESCAPE, the band’s impressive 1999 debut.
Simply, NO ESCAPE turned some heads when it was released due to its combination of fiery riffs and solos from Lenk, solid neo-classical song writing, and the impressive vocals of Oliver Hartmann, who would go on to be a major part of the Avantasia machine, as well as a solo career. As soon as the high-speed Malmsteen-isms of “Flying High” and the title track hit, it’s obvious that At Vance were not only capable musicians, but accomplished song writers as well. For musicianship, look no further than Lenk’s own “No Speak” instrumental, as well as his re-wiring of Vivaldi classic “Four Seasons – Summer”, somehow rendered both faithfully and metallically. I usually don’t love instrumentals, but both of these tracks are very impressive.
Elsewhere, the band gets into Hammerfall territory with the big-chorused sing-alongs of “All for One, One for All” and “Power & Glory”, and token throwaway ballad “Lost in Your Love”. For me, the two best songs are the slower ones, with “Die in Your Arms” being an addictive stomper of a song and “Seven Seas” thundering along like a lost track from mid-‘80s Dio albums.
While not earth-shattering, NO ESCAPE was definitely an impressive first step for At Vance. Fans of the band surely have this, but if you are a fan of ‘80s-styled neo-classical power metal and haven’t yet heard this album, I strongly suggest you seek it out.
1. Flying High
2. No Escape
3. No Speak
4. Die in Your Arms
5. All for One, One for All
6. Money, Money, Money
7. Four Seasons – Summer
8. Lost in Your Love
9. Power & Glory
10. Seven Seas
11. Eye of the Tiger
Oliver Hartmann: Vocals, Guitar
Olaf Lenk: Guitar, Keyboards
Uli Miller: Keyboards
Rainald Konig: Bass
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