@Planetmosh reviews @VanCantoBand album “Dawn of the brave” on @NapalmRecords
If you’ve never come across Van Canto before then you could be in for a shock – they aren’t your typical metal band. Instead of the usual electric guitars and bass, Van Canto use vocals. That’s right – no guitars, no bass, no keyboards, just drums and vocals – Van Canto perform A Capella metal.
This may sound like a crazy idea that couldn’t possibly work – after all, could you really do Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, or Metallica’s “Battery” without electric guitars? Well Van Canto have done both and they make it work superbly well.
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 impressive 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. It can take a few songs before you really start to get into it, but it’s well worth listening as the talent they have is impressive. They’ve had recognition from other musicians and have appeared on albums by bands including Blind Guardian, Gravedigger, and Tarja, and have collaborated with musicians such as Sabaton’s Joakim Broden and Blind Guardian’s Marcus Siepen.
On this latest album they’ve gone for another mix of cover versions and original material. The covers span a wide range of artists – Bonnie Tyler (Holding out for a hero), Europe (The final countdown), Annie Lennox (Into the west), and Black Sabbath (Paranoid).
The album opens with the title track, “Dawn of the brave”. it’s quite a short song – more of an intro in fact at just a minute long, with a great sound that feels at times like a military kind of beat.
“Fight for your life” is the first real song on the album and is one of their original songs rather than a cover. It’s a great song with a mix of male and female vocals.
The first cover on the album is “The final countdown”, and like the original, it’s very quickly recognisable. In place of those really distinctive keyboards at the start you have vocals but even with the change you still recognise it straight away. This really is an excellent cover – the vocal replacements for the keyboards and guitars are very effective.
The cover of “Paranoid” is very good – it works better than I’d expected, but as to how well it will go down – that’s a tough one to predict. I’m sure some fans will love it while others see it as vandalism of a classic song, but you can’t please everyone. I’m sure more than enough people will enjoy it to make it worth the inclusion on the album.
While the covers are great at getting people to give the band a listen I do think that some of the best material on the album is the Van Canto original songs – “Unholy” being a particular favourite. The combination of original songs and covers works well – that mix of the new and the familiar. With this release Van Canto have once again produced an excellent album.
“Dawn of the brave” will be released on 10th February 2014 on Napalm Records
1. Dawn of the brave
2. Fight for your life
3. To the mountains
5. The final countdown
7. The awakening
8. The other ones
9. Holding out for a hero
11. My utopia
12. Into the west