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I used to say this was one of my very favorite guilty pleasures, but you know what it is? There's nothing to be guilty about at all when loving this album. Why is that I hear you whisper?
Why? Simply because this album is awesome fun. Only Human is a romp in unashamedly over the top, hard rocking power metal. Loads of neo-classical guitar work, double kicking drums, songs about facing your destiny and chasing rainbows, even a Rainbow cover, this just has it all, sautéed in the finest, richest gorgonzola sauce.
Oliver Hartmann leads the At Vance boys through thirteen tracks of excellent melodic power metal, his voice is of a husky timbre, sounding like a sweaty sock in the greatest way possible, and is a surefire example of the kind of singer your dad could appreciate. In fact, At Vance are just about universal in their appeal, I think anyone into melodic music in general would find something to enjoy here, particularly the title track with its massive sing-a-long chorus.
Fortunately At Vance don't lose themselves amidst a sea of sing-a-long songs, nor do they fall into the Clichéd 80's Malmsteen worship that fells a good amount of their peers, although that isn't to say the lean mean, airbrushed 'Steen isn't duly worshipped. On the contrary, Olaf Lenk wears his influence proudly on his sleeve, which no doubt starts at Blackmore and ends at Malmsteen. Still, he isn't too bad of a clone, and actually spews forth some badass lead work, not to mention some jolly good riffs.
"The Time Has Come" shows exactly what At Vance are all about, neo-classically tinged chord progressions led by double kicking make way for Oliver's hard rockin' vocal work, before a massive chorus opens up and you've got your first bang up in the air head-banging like they did in '82. "Take My Pain" presents a wicked riff, that will guarantee the arrival of the air guitar. "Fly to the Rainbow" should have earned each member of the band a cheese sculpted likeness of the album cover, how they could make a track with such a pink name so badass is beyond me.
The later half of the album has a whole host of cool stuff, from neoclassical guitar covers of Vivaldi, to dancing witches, Only Human is all good. Even the "I Surrender" cover is great; you're a fucking puff if you don't like that song.
All in all, and trying to bring back some slight degree of seriousness. Only Human is going to appeal to fans of melodic power metal, especially fans of all things neoclassical, and even those who are more into hard rock and AOR might find a good amount of enjoyment here. While At Vance would never touch the heights of this album again, I think Only Human is somewhat of an unsung classic amongst the power metal genre, and is nigh on essential for fans of the style.