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Oliver Hartmann, once the amazing lead singer of the rising Heavy / Power Metal form, At Vance, and today a solo artist moving on his own. Hartmann started his solos career sometime after his departure from At Vance. His first album, Out In The Cold, showed him in a different light than used to on his other projects and guest appearances. Hartmann’s music is not Metal in general. The man’s albums are more into the sense of the mixing of Hard Rock and AOR than the force of Heavy Metal.
Hartmann’s new album, III, also number three on his manifest, turned out to be, on heaviness terms, even a bit weaker than his previous album, Home. This album is more radio friendly, meaning more AOR. Overall; it’s a very nice album as it presents Hartmann on a more emotional blaze. In addition, adjoining the nice material is the great production management by the veteran ex-Heaven’s Gate guitarist Sascha Paeth.
However, it seemed that as the music of Hartmann turned to be less Metal, he always tuned himself to an awkward direction, and that is a terrible thing. Only on the more or less stronger tracks like “Broken Down” or the joint venture with Tobias Sammet, ”Brothers” and “From Outta Space”, this is almost old Hartmann standing tall. On the others, it’s like he deliberately lowered himself to be more into his new form of music.
As a fan of the singer, it’s kind of a rough thing to take. If anyone remembers No Escape or even the guest appearances on Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia albums, the man was strong and certainly asserted himself as one of the greatest Metal singers in Europe. On the III album, as on his other releases, Hartmann rather chose to stay away from Metal. Furthermore, beside the changes, where did the passion go as it was when he was back on At Vance? That loss of passion on the vocals could have been the help needed for the album for the reason that he music on it sounds pretty regular to any Hard Rock / AOR album. Hartmann could have given additional stronger points on III than rather just average like songs.
To be wrong, Hartmann hasn’t lost his voice, however, the excitement that once was on his earlier days isn’t such a big time player on III. His release has fine moments like on songs as “I Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “All I Can Say”, “Forgotten Innocence” and “Don’t Give Up Your Dream”. As a fan of the guy, that pattern of his wasn’t expected, yet, it's an album worth hearing. If you dig into the softer side of Hard Rock, you got yourself a nice album to look forward to.
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- Lior “Steinmetal” Stein (May, 6th 2010)
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