At Vance

Facing Your Enemy

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Each year evidence mounts that, should the world indeed suffer a final and devastating apocalypse, only cockroaches and German power metal will live on…unharmed, unperturbed, and unknowing. Certainly, the men responsible for second-tier power metal purveyors At Vance offer bountiful evidence supporting this (admittedly far-flung, knee-jerk) theory, as they continue to crank out album after same-sounding album, oblivious to evolving habits or new innovations, never mind political intrigue or geo-strategic realignments. And unless there's some cleverly concealed ironic admission behind its title, 2012's Facing Your Enemy (their ninth long-player) is yet another example of the band's obstinate, unflinching allegiance to the music of the late '80s, give or take a few imperfect nodes of synchronicity leaked from more recent years. As such, token numbers like "Heaven Calling," "Eyes of a Stranger," and "Fame and Fortune" uncomfortably nestle big repetitive choruses against choppy guitars, while first ballad "Don't Dream" (followed immediately by a second, "See me Crying," and, later, a truly painful acoustic weeper named "Things I Never Need") delivers soothing synths that work quite well with Rick Altzi's soft crooning at the start and finish. Meanwhile, the title track, "Fear No Evil," and "Live & Learn" contrast simple, classic rock power chords and horn-like synth-stabs to mechanized drum beds reminiscent of the Scorpions' ill-advised Savage Amusement LP spiked with a shot of Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force during the second go-round of walking wig-stand Mark Boals. God have mercy! There's even a Spinal Tap-approved instrumental called "March of the Dwarf" and another tune named simply "Tokyo," whose sophomoric lyrics seem to have frozen in time circa 1985! Clearly, At Vance operate by their own time-traveling rules, and however stunted they may be, there are obviously more than enough like-minded fans willing to support their endless recycling of power metal ideals. So bring on the atom bomb -- At Vance, at least, have nothing to worry about.

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