At Vance – Decade (AFM Records)

Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Argh. The dreaded best-of compilation. Debate resounds as to whether bands truly desire these contractually obligation cash-grabs or if record labels believe consumers are mere sheep locking into a “must have everything” mentality when it comes to their favorite artists. In the case of Germany’s melodic power metal act At Vance, you get the twice the pleasure with your investment as Decade throws 37 tracks at you over the course of its double disc display.

Disc one compiles 16 original songs with At Vance’s three vocalists who’ve spent time in the band: Oliver Hartmann, Mats Levin (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen and Therion) and current singer Rick Altzi. Since many of the early albums didn’t receive a proper North American release, those who enjoy Ritchie Blackmore-inspired Rainbow/Deep Purple hard rock with killer melodic pipes and occasional forays into neo-classical soloing will find favor with mandatory material like “Only Human,” “Take My Pain,” and “The Evil in You.”

The second disc consists primarily of cover songs and heavier interpretations of classical pieces where guitarist Olaf Lenk waves his maestro finger to hand wand across the axe. He respects the craftsmanship of Sweden’s Abba, taking on three of their vast catalog of songs and illustrating the good (“S.O.S”) as well as the ugly (“The Winner Takes It All”). Other thumbs-up interpretations include Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” as well as Tears For Fears’ “Shout.” For the classical numbers, expect to hear Vivaldi, Beethoven and Bach among others with distortion and speedy fingers handling the call and response work.

Those who appreciate the killer pipes/ guitar hero twosome that power metal has a tendency to focus on will enjoy much of what Decade has to offer. I personally enjoy Only Human and The Evil In You when I need my At Vance full-on studio fix, and feel this was a tad over-bloated.

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