At Vance - Chained
AFM Records
Melodic Power / Neo-classical Metal
13 songs (50'19)
Release year: 2005
At Vance, AFM Records
Reviewed by Marty
Sweden's At Vance are back with their sixth album Chained, the second release with vocalist Mats Leven, (Yngwie Malamsteen) the replacement for original vocalist Oliver Hartmann who left after the tour for the Almost Human album. Chained also marks the debut of yet another new At Vance line-up. Guitarist and principle songwriter Olaf Lenk and Mats Leven are the only remaining members that recorded The Evil In You, released a couple of years ago with Olaf Lenk being the only remaining member of the band's original 1998 line-up. New to the band are drummer Mark Cross (Metalium, Helloween) and bassist John ABC Smith. Concentrating more on establishing a solid rhythm section, Olaf Lenk has decided to not add a second guitar player at this time and continue in a single guitar format.

You can always count on this band to deliver a solid album whatever the line-up is and this new album is no exception. What At Vance may lack in originality is more than made up for in quality songwriting, catchy melodies and a great balance between speedy power metal, melodic heavy metal and neo-classical influenced metal. Much of At Vance's material has a very "familiar" quality to it and similarities in sound range from classic Rainbow, 80's era Yngwie Malmsteen as well as a touch of the speediness of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius all topped off by catchy melodies and choruses. If you're a fan of any of those aforementioned bands, At Vance will surely please.

Speedy power metal dominates tracks like the album opener Rise From The Fall which also has a dash of the Yngwie neo-classical style of guitar and organ throughout. Tell Me is another speedy number but this one has more of a Stratovarius edge with speedy muted riffs and awesome double bass drumming by Mark Cross. Whatever ailments this guy had that forced him to bow out of Helloween seems to have all but vanished. Run For Your Life is another song in the same vein that has an awesome blend of power and speed with it's very tight guitar and keyboard riffs. At Vance explores more melodic metal styles with tracks like Heaven which is throw back to the 80's complete with it's catchy chorus and melodic hooks. Two Hearts sees the Rainbow influence coming through and this one reminds me of the material from Cornerstone with Doogie White on vocals. The remaining tracks are more of a mid-tempo style and range from the heavy and plodding title track Chained with a solid passionate vocal by Mats to more charging Masterplan-like material with songs like Now Or Never, Run/Leave and Live For The Sacred. Mats Leven's passionate vocals are great throughout and At Vance seems to have rebounded very nicely from the departure of Oliver Hartmann. Like most other At Vance albums, this one also has several instrumental tracks. Invention No. 13 is a nice duet between a clean guitar and bass guitar and guitarist Olaf Lenk shows off his Yngwie and Brian May (Queen) influences for the band's interpretation of Vivaldi's Winter. It's a solid version but I thought that the version on the latest Dark Moor album Beyond The Sea was better. For some versions, there's two bonus tracks, Who's Foolin' Who and also a short version of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight Of The Bumblebee.

There's nothing really new or groundbreaking with this album and it's easy to dismiss this album as just another average power metal album but I rate At Vance above average for this or any of their releases for that matter. Sure there's lots of familiarity and "I've heard all this before" thoughts going through your head as you listen to this album but the sound of the band, the songwriting, guitar playing and vocals make for quite an enjoyable listen. It's has a great balance between speediness, heaviness and melody that bursts with feel and emotion. That's what good melodic power metal is plain and simple and this album is a fine example.

Killing Songs :
Rise From The Fall, Tell Me, Now Or Never and Run/Leave
Marty quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by At Vance that we have reviewed:
At Vance - The Evil In You reviewed by Danny and quoted 90 / 100
At Vance - Only Human reviewed by Mike and quoted 87 / 100
At Vance - Dragonchaser reviewed by Chris and quoted 75 / 100
At Vance - Heart Of Steel reviewed by Chris and quoted 85 / 100
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