Firmly ensconced in the fertile German power metal/melodic hard rock community for well over a decade now, AT VANCE again seeks only to please itself and its fans with an album called "Ride the Sky" that consists of a tried and true amalgam of bright, shining melodic heavy/power metal and AOR-tinged rock. The results are devoid of any big revelations, a fact that would seem to be in sync with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.Taken in its entirety, "Ride the Sky" does in fact boast styles that range from the AOR-metal/rock of RAINBOW (Joe Lynn Turner era) and, if you really listen for it, a little FOREIGNER in a manner similar to that of PLACES OF POWER (e.g. "Torn – Burning Like Fire"), to neoclassical power metal ("End of Days" and "Salvation Day", the latter boasting a folk-based guitar melody). The points in between are also included, as exemplified by the pedestrian melodic rock of "Falling" and a fiery, neoclassical-based instrumental called "Vivaldi, Summer 2nd Set" that ends up as one of the album's standout moments. The album's first half is inclusive of some of AT VANCE's finer moments. But in the context of AT VANCE's target audience and as skillfully assembled as much of "Ride the Sky" may be, it is after the aforementioned instrumental that the sugar high begins to wear off and a marginally middling "been there, heard that" feeling becomes a significant factor, as illustrated by a barely workable and uncomfortably sappy ballad called "You and I". Incidentally, there is nothing patently wrong with the cover of FREE's "Wishing Well", but a 10-year moratorium on the covering of this classic must be called, as should have been done after BLACKFOOT's smokin' version of it on 1979's "Strikes" was recorded. The good news is that "Ride the Sky" rings several of the right bells and while it is in no danger of entering into classic status, on balance it satisfies more than it disappoints.
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