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One of the veterans of the contemporary German metal scene, Oliver Hartmann has been accused of venturing into AOR territory a little too often with his previous solo records. Co-produced with his Avantasia bandmate, Sascha Paeth, his third album, simply titled 3, attempts to redress the balance with arguably some of his heaviest songs since his At Vance heyday. Opener "I Won't Get Fooled Again" bursts out of the block with an array of crunching riffs and flashes of symphonic rock, "Broken Down" is a propulsive slice of hair metal featuring a typically bombastic air guitar solo, while the groove-laden "Lost in Havanna" is a turbocharged dad-rock anthem that showcases his David Coverdale-esque vocals in all their glory. There are also a couple of surprising curve balls suggesting Hartmann is aware that music has moved on since the heady days of Whitesnake. "Suddenly" contains a lighters-in-the-air chorus that wouldn't sound out of place at a Snow Patrol stadium gig, while closer "Forgotten Innocence" contains the kind of R&B beat you'd normally associate with a late-night slow jam. Unfortunately, the plodding "Don't Tell Me It's Over," the melodramatic "All I Can Say," and "Brothers," the latter a duet with Edguy's Tobias Sammet that resembles the histrionic battle rounds of The Voice, prove that his fondness for corny power ballads still remains intact. Despite a few post-1980s musical concessions, 3 is unlikely to find much of an audience outside the European hard rock scene, but Hartmann has undoubtedly rediscovered some of his mojo.

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