At Vance - Dragonchaser review


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Band: At Vance
Album: Dragonchaser
Release date: 2001

01. Dragonchaser
02. Ages Of Glory
03. Crucified
04. Beethoven, 5th Sinfoni
05. Heaven Can Wait
06. Winner Takes it All [ABBA cover]
07. My Bleeding Heart
08. Two Kings
09. Too Late
10. Aces Death
11. Heroes Of Honour [AFM reissue bonus]

I think in the '90s/early '00s power metal bands really had an identity crisis and only those who found their own sound emerged successfully. This could've been so much better, At Vance... you coulda been a contender!

Disclaimer: this is my first experience when it comes to At Vance. I'm writing all this with this single experience in mind.

My biggest concern with the album is that it aims nowhere, really. It feels more like a compilation than a record to be listened to in one sitting. In the swarm of power metal bands from this time period, it really is a challenge to find something that can stand on its own feet. With big, established names from the previous 10-15 years providing a sea of inspiration, many tried. At Vance seems like a band that weighed more into the inspirations than finding their own niche.

In order to understand this better, I have to go track by track. It starts off with the title track, which is a really great Yngwie-inspired "standard" power metal song (although I wish they explored it vocally a bit more, because the singer is great); then at the second track you have 100% full-blown Rhapsody worship; the third song also reminds me of someone else who had done it better. "Beethoven" falls a little flat in the dynamic range department and "Heaven Can Wait" is a ballad winking back at the '80s; the ABBA cover sounds good, but to me it has a slightly bitter taste, as if they had done it just for the sake of publicity. "My Bleeding Heart" is another ballad, a tad overdrawn but still alright; "Two Kings" is a song that can't decide to stick with Rhapsody or the seed of the band's own sound. "Too Late" is a straight-up Stratovarius song; "Aces Death" is a nice little instrumental (albeit a little anticlimactic). You see, the band wears its inspirations on its sleeves... but too little of anything else.

Does this make Dragonchaser a bad record? Definitely not. The production is great (for the most part), and they play their asses off. I especially like the singer's voice and the rasp he occasionally adds. If this had been my first experience with power metal growing up, I'd surely not have forgotten it. The songs are good on their own merits - they just don't bring anything new to the table. I feel like the Yngwie-Strato line fits best for them (e.g. the title track), and I just wish that the record offered something more cohesive and more of a unique experience, something I'd be glad to revisit.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 5
Production: 8

Written by qlacs | 25.10.2019


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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