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Van Canto – Break the silence

[media-credit id=4717 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]If you’ve never come across Van Canto before then you could be in for a shock – Van Canto do what sounds at first like a crazy idea that couldn’t possibly work, but somehow they make it work.  The old saying goes “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity” and if so then Van Canto tread that line carefully and are in my opinion on the genius side, but if they didn’t have so much talent they could easily have been on the insanity side.
Why am I saying this?  Well Van Canto perform A capella metal – yes you read it correctly, A Capella metal – i.e. music without instruments.  OK that’s a slight exaggeration – Van Canto have a drummer with a proper drum kit but apart from that all the sounds are from the various members voices.

 

 

The description A Capella (sometimes written as acapella) conjures up images of a group of people singing in harmony, but Van Canto is far more complex than that – you have two lead singers, one male and one female who do the vocal parts of the songs, then the other members use their voices to replace the bass and guitar parts with sometimes astonishing results.  Its not going to be to everyones taste but many people who listen to them and give them a chance will find themselves enjoying it.

Van Canto started off doing cover versions of songs by bands such as Manowar and Metallica but now write much of their own material.  This album consists of six of their own songs plus four covers.

 

You get an idea of their talent when you look at the people they’ve worked with – Joakim Broden (Sabaton), and Marcus Siepen (Blind Guardian) both appear on this album, Van Canto appear on Tarja Turunens last album, they were invited to join Gravedigger on stage at Wacken and they have also played festivals across Europe including Wacken Open Air.

Comments on a few of the songs on the album:

Tackling a cover version of a popular or well known track is always tough as people know the original so compare them directly.  With “Bed of Nails”, Van Canto have tackled an Alice Cooper song and one that I know well, so the question is how does this version compare to the Alice Cooper version, well the answer is that it stands up to comparison well.  It wont overtake the Alice Cooper version but it’s a good version nonetheless.

Another cover version on the album is the Sabaton song “Primo Victoria”.  Technically I’m not sure if it is a true “cover” as Joakim Broden from Sabaton appears with Van Canto on this song.  What is certain though is that this is a great version, but whether Sabaton fans can accept it as such will be interesting to see – its always hard to accept a cover version of one of your favourite tracks. The presence of Joakim Broden should overcome a lot of the immediate prejudice and allow people to judge this version on its merits.

“Spelled in waters” is the first of two tracks on the album to be unusual for van canto in having instruments – in this case a guitar rather than being their usual A Capella style

“Master of the wind” is a Manowar cover, and is unusual in having a piano playing on the track.  Listening to the song I’d never have guessed it was a Manowar song, but it is a slow Manowar song, and Van Canto have really done a superb version of it. A slow and beautifully done ballad to end the album with.

The special edition of the album has three extra tracks so is well worth going for – I’ll certainly be ordering a copy.

My favourite track on the album?  That’s a tough one.  Of the cover versions it would be either “Primo Victoria” or “Master of the Wind”.  Of the Van Canto originals then I think “The seller of souls” wins.
This really is a great album and Van Canto fans will love it, as will a lot of other rock and metal fans open minded enough to give it a listen.

Rating:  8.5/10
Track listing:

1. If I Die In Battle
2. The Seller Of Souls
3. Primo Victoria (feat. Joakim Broden / Sabaton / Sabaton Cover)
4. Dangers In My Head
5. Black Wings Of Hate
6. Bed Of Nails (Alice Cooper Cover)
7. Spelled In Waters (feat. Marcus Siepen / Blind Guardian)
8. Neuer Wind
9. The Higher Flight
10. Master Of The Wind (Manowar Cover)

11. Betrayed (Bonus Track)
12. Bad To The Bone (Bonus Track / Running Wild Cover)
13. A Storm To Come (Bonus Track)

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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