Wim S. : I have been reviewing albums by Oliver Hartmann for years now, a German rocker who once was the singer of At Vance, he was a member of Avantasia and who has already released a few albums by the name of Hartmann. The four-piece unit around the very talented singer / guitarist now releases the album 'Hands On The Wheel', an album on which we once again hear the pure class of these Germans. Hartmann stands for high quality heavy rock with the necessary pop and AOR influences.
And despite all this quality, the band still seems to be operating in the margins. There are hardly any live performances and this new album is released with the help of crowdfunding actions. Whether it is a conscious choice of the gentlemen to keep Hartmann at a low level (perhaps they are busy with all kinds of side projects), fact is that Hartmann actually deserves much more attention. The music is very good. As I have said before: Oliver is a very good vocalist and he can also play more than decent guitar. His riffs are not really breathtaking but his solos are really nice and functional. And he has three musicians around him who also know how to play their instruments. And Hartmann is also able to write catchy songs that stick in your head immediately and that have radio potency. Most notable songs are 'Your Best Excuse' (reminds me of Van Halen), 'Simple Man' (not a great track but with vocal contribution by Eric Martin), the more than beautiful 'Soulmates' (with fine solo and vocals ) and finally the fresh 'I Remember'. The only criticism that I can think of is the fact that some songs take a bit too long ('Lost In Translation', 'Cold As Stone'), but that is the only thing. Furthermore, 'Hands On The Wheel' is another proof that Hartmann is a great band.