To some of you, Van Canto will represent the ultimate in “flower metal”. To fans of melodic power metal this will represent a strong and powerful, albeit different, take on the melodic power metal style. The tag line the band uses to promote itself is “Five singers, one drummer. No guitars, no bass, no keyboards but nevertheless an unbelievable melodic metal experience.” This “a capella metal”, is much more than a metal version of the barbershop quartet with a drummer.
So maybe you’re not sold on the idea of metal done just by vocals plus drums? I felt the same way before hearing Van Canto. I figured, “If it doesn’t have heavy guitars, it can’t be metal”. I listened to a few songs expecting to dislike the music, but I was quite surprised. The metallic feel and approach to the songs are faithful to that offered by any of the great melodic metal bands such as Blind Guardian or Nightwish. As a fan of several melodic power metal bands, you are already a candidate for loving Van Canto. Part of the reason why the guitars are not overly missed is because the vocalists do not all sing words. For example, we have emulations of the guitar’s sound done with “rakkatakka” and “dun dun” styled vocals. One some songs we even get vocalized guitar solos. It might read funny until you hear it put together and then it sounds like gold! Some of you will recognize the name Stefan Schmidt who was the vocalist of Jester’s Funeral (reviews for their past works are available in our reviews database). Stefan offers an aggressive vocal style and is one of the two responsible for the “rakkatakka” vocals. It’s hard to pick just a couple of stand out tracks, but on first listen to the album the song “Rain” stuck with me with it’s very powerful chorus and thundering drums. Of course, the cover of one of Metallica’s greatest songs, “Battery”, was very interesting to hear interpreted for vocals and drums only. To me, their translation of the song to a capella metal is nothing short of jaw-dropping…so much so that I hope they will cover other heavy songs in the future. That is not to say I prefer the cover to their originals, far from it. The heaviness of “I Stand Alone” and the catchiness of “The Mission”, and “King” also stand out for me.
Listening to A STORM TO COME becomes a bit addictive. I’ve been playing this a few times every week since I got the promo back in December. The songs are great for singing along with in the car where no one can hear how bad you are butchering the vocals! Ha! In public, or at the office, you can of course just do the “rakkatakka rakkatakka rakkatakka don don don donnn…” and people will think you’re nuts. Although overall I will always prefer metal that is driven by the combination of guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, Van Canto’s unique style will always have a place. When talking about new bands only, Van Canto’s A STORM TO COME is the best album from 2006. Even when compared to “normal” metal albums, it ranks up there pretty damn high. Others came close but Van Canto’s uniqueness coupled with their song writing prowess puts them over the top. The band are making their live debut this coming July. I only wish I could see them perform. I’d even be happy to see live videos or videos from the studio showing how this genius was put together….brilliant…can’t wait to hear more from Van Cannto!!
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