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Articles Home » 2009 Articles » Hartmann - 2009 3
Hartmann - 2009 3

ARTIST: Hartmann
LABEL: Sonic 11 Records
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Oliver Hartmann - vocals, guitars * Dario Ciccioni - drums * Mario Reck - guitar * Jurgen Wust - keyboards * Armin Donderer - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 I Won't Get Fooled Again * 02 From Outta Space * 03 Suddenly * 04 All I Can Say * 05 Right Here Right Now * 06 Don't Give Up Your Dream * 07 Broken Down * 08 Don't Tell Me It's Over * 09 Lost In Havana * 10 Brothers * 11 Forgotten Innocence



3 is my favourite number and 3 is my favourite Oliver Hartmann release. This being the latest release from the former At Vance vocalist. Really though as it's been nearly 8 years since he recorded an album with them, the connection is becoming less relevant as a description of Oliver. In fact more recently he has became a bit of a gun for hire, appearing on the odd track as a special guest on some of the most significant metal albums of the past couple of years. Take his stunning displays on the Avantasia project and on the latest Heavenly with the tune. 'Save Our Souls'. Also another significant milestone is the change from Frontiers to Sonic 11 Records, nope never heard of them either. I would imagine that Frontiers are somewhat scratching their heads to where such a good album has come from and a noticeable improvement (although this view is not always the consensus on the weCool). Well as Frontiers go away and lick their wounds, although their recent signings of Whitesnake and Alan Parsons Project will probably help the healing process, I will dissect Oliver's last contribution to the noughties.

The Songs
'I Won't Get Fooled Again' gives as an opening that Jim Peterik's Pride Of Lions would be proud of. It's the combined power of crunching guitar with a Jorn vocal slant, but thankfully avoiding all of the David Coverdale mannerisms. Of course this will appeal to At Vance and Avantasia admirers as Hartmann shows he is able to peel off AOR and melodic rock quicker than Cheryl Cole applies for divorce papers. If anything this track and the next 'From Outta Space' have faint traces of modern AOR, especially with the vocal effects placed on the second tune. This has a delicious melodic pre chorus, that out performs even Glenn Hughes in the 'oh yea' stakes, with plenty of luscious backing vocals mixed with Winger chugging riffs. An honest display and while Oliver sings 'smile of an angel' he gives an image of a church minister with his followers kneeling by his feet, that's how much respect Oliver deserves with his vocal presentation, exemplary.

Yes, it get better, take the excellent 'Suddenly', what he has done here, is take a Coldplay platform and built a skyscraper of a tune. The delightful cascading waterfall of melody provides a heavenly freefall effect; the melodies just keep smacking you full in the face. I usually give Coldplay (some might say, rightly so) a good kicking but I think they should take some credit here, as I feel (and I have no real other evidence other than my view) that they have been an influence on Oliver.

With 'All I Can Say' you can see that he still has a strong admiration for Skunk Anansie, which he previously showed with a stunning version of 'Brazen' on the 'Out In The Cold' album. While of course this isn't another cover, it still has the bitterness references overlaid to become a storming AOR ballad - although not lighters in the air, more red flares. This is slightly repeated with 'Don't Give Up Your Dream' with a fine acoustic opening applying woodwind finery, before it batters into a crushing Whitesnake style of powerful hard rock. Another masterful display and shows he is able to change colours and perform comfortable whenever the need arises.

'Right Here Right Now' is a change of pace and brings Steve Augeri all too short tenure at Journey to mind, it has a bouncing tempo with an all too familiar structured chorus.

Unwittingly I have brought in another Deep Purple vocalist with 'Broken Down', although while not strictly in vocal displays but this reminded me of the straight ahead rock tunes performed by Ian Gillan in the Gillan Band days. It's a genuine butt kicking rocker and could easier been a fine opener. On the opposite end of the scale is the laid back ballad of 'Don't Tell Me It's Over' which has delightful melody that is knocking on the door of the mighty fine One Republic. Compare this to the more upbeat 'Lost In Havana', which is a more of a summer holiday soundtrack flavour. It is seriously different from what Hartmann has been involved with in the past, very mid west American styling.

However this visit to the US is short lived and he (it should be remembered that this is very much a band performance) returns with the magnificent 'Brothers'. I read a couple of reviews and they failed to mention the collaboration on this track with Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia). Just because it's not explicitly mentioned on the booklet shouldn't mean that you can't identify young Tobias. Maybe they felt he didn't warrant a mention or bothered to listen to the album that intensely. Really, his presence on this track is as obvious as England failing at the next World Cup football finals (quarter final place should be judged as an achievement). Together they have delivered a classic rock tune, slowing climbing in intensity and power, supreme melodic rock; they make a formidable German partnership. Their voices complement each other perfectly.

'Forgotten Innocence' is the final reminder of how Oliver has improved as a song writer, a stirring ballad, that takes you back to a time when Mark Spiro would just reel off classic after classic.

In Summary
No template has been used to design these tunes so don't expect songs that follow the normal AOR formula. I feel that Hartmann and co provide a fresh outlook and have laid down new blueprints for quality songs. I found many of the tracks so catchy that they should be quarantined. On this evidence Oliver has finally laid to rest his early days, to be considered solely on recent output which shows he has matured into an excellent song wizard and performer. Before I finish let us not forget this is a band project and Oliver has surrounded himself with quality musicians. All have performed admirably and together they combine a winning campaign of melodic strength, taking full advantage of the excellent support provided by producer extraordinaire Sascha Paeth. What next? Well next month sees the next contribution by Oliver, being involved in the new Avantasia release, I can't wait.

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#1 | gdazegod on March 02 2010 08:34:47
Excellent. I think we should do his second one 'Home'.. from 2007. Leave that one up to me..! Thumbs Up
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