HARTMANN - review added 31st May 2012
Album Review: Balance (2012)
For fans of: Hard Rock
Oliver Hartmann is probably best known as the first lead singer of metal act At Vance, though he has performed lead and backing vocals with numerous other bands, and released a number of well renowned solo albums starting with "Out In The Cold" on Frontiers Records in 2005. He's even the lead singer and guitarist in a Pink Floyd cover band.
"Balance" is his latest foray into the solo market, and I have to say it really is rather good. It's understated in places, but some of the songs are truly stunning. The sound is occasionally as heavy as his early At Vance work, soft and thoughtful at other times. There is plenty of variety throughout to keep the listening experience fresh.
The musicianship is crisp and well judged, occasionally brilliant but mostly there as support for Oliver's sublime vocals. He really does have a lush tone; raspy, meaty, but still with a warmth and gentle edge that lends itself equally to heavy metal or soft ballads.
Of the songs, opener 'All My Life' is speedy and contagious, 'Like a River' is okay but never really takes off, 'You Are the One' similarly doesn't hit as hard as it should have done, 'Fool for You' is much better and has a kick-ass chorus, not as good as 'After the Love Is Gone' which is song of the year for me so far, 'Save Me' sounds very like Newman which is no bad thing, 'Fall from Grace' is a slow-moving masterpiece, 'From a Star' is a pleasant pop-tinged ballad, 'Dance On the Wire' is zingy but not that memorable, the cover of 'Shout' has been done before and done better although this one is certainly not rubbish by any means, 'Time to Face the Truth' is another slower track with a cool Whitesnake vibe, and final track 'The Best Is Yet to Come' boasts a great vocal.
At times a little derivative, a few fillers, a poorly chosen cover track, but still a very good album indeed. Definitely one to check out.
Overall (Not An Average Of The Above):
01. All My Life
02. Like a River
03. You Are the One
04. Fool for You
05. After the Love Is Gone
06. Save Me
07. Fall from Grace
08. From a Star
09. Dance On the Wire
11. Time to Face the Truth
12. The Best Is Yet to Come
Oliver Hartmann - Vocals & Guitars
Mario Reck - Guitars
Armin Donderer - Bass
Dario Ciccioni - Drums