Artist:  At Vance
   Title: VII
   Label: AFM Records

As a reviewer over the years there have been a number of albums that have totally blown me away and this year alone there have been numerous, with some that instantly come to mind being UDO’s Mastercutor, Masterplan’s MKII, Threshold’s Dead Reckoning, Kamelot’s Ghost Opera and Evidence One’s The Sky Is The Limit to name but a few, and now to add to this list is the new album by At Vance VII.

Ever since this album hit my CD player it has been on constant play and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to just sit down and tell you all how wonderful this new album is, now with pressure on from my Editor-In-Chief cracking the whip I have finally set time aside to do so.

Anyone familiar with the band will know the structure of the Power Metal behind the bands sound and with this new opus things remain the same, but along with this new album comes a new vocalist in the form of Rick Altzi, who from the word go reminds me of Jorn Lande in his vocal approach to metal, with soaring and melodic vocal power and grace and along with the virtuoso guitars of Olaf Lenk, the pair have made a superb album that will have the Power Metal fraternity in absolute raptures.

The album gets under way with ‘Breaking The Night’ and instantly the power of Altzi vocals are there for all to hear and with a powerhouse back beat and Lenk’s driving guitars, this is a superb opener, some will say nothing new, but the old adage of “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it"  comes to mind so why change a good thing?

Things continue with one of my many favourite tracks off the album the breathtaking ‘Shiver’.  This is where Altzi reminds me very much of Lande as the song builds from humble beginnings into a crescendo of driving bass and drums and some quite extraordinary guitars courtesy of Lenk.

The driving guitar sound is carried on into the another favourite of mine the rocking ‘Cold As Ice’, this song may come in at under 3 minutes long, but a better 3 minutes of power enthused metal you will not hear.  Lenk once again leads the way with some excellent solo’s and Altzi isn’t far behind with those superb vocals.

The album just gets better and better as each track unfolds to outdo its predecessor and with ‘Victory’, this is another fine example of At Vance at their finest.  Although track of the album has to be the soul searching grace of ‘Friendly Fire’ with it's driving guitars that have become part and parcel of the whole At Vance sound and now with added powerful vocals of Altzi, the band have what I’d like to think is the complete Power Metal package.

The band aren’t all anthemic metal as they bring a little speed and temper into the mix with the rampaging ‘Golden Leaves’ before it's down to a much mellower tone with the atmospheric ‘Answer Me’.  A track where Altzi lays down a very humble and almost haunting vocal with some stirring guitars from Lenk his a very much a 80's metal style ballad.

It' back to the driving metal with another of my favourites ‘Shine’.  This is clean cut metal with a thumping rhythm section that depicts the true sound of the Power Metal genre.  Then Lenk really rips things up with another metal master class this time on speed fest that is ‘Truth’, which like ‘Cold As Ice’, comes in just under 3 minutes long but it's lasting effect is much longer than that.

The album comes to a close with the surprise package of the album the semi- acoustic tones of the ballad ‘Lost In Your Love', this brings to close a very impressive return for Lenk and Co and one that will feature among my albums of 2007 for sure.

1. Breaking The Night
2. Shiver
3. Cold As Ice
4. Victory
5. Friendly Fire
6. Golden Leaves
7. Answer Me
8. Shine 
9. Truth
10. Lost In Your Love




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