Released: 2010, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Alan Gilkeson
When they released their first album independently back in 2006 the general consensus was overwhelmingly positive, Van Canto had generated a very interesting record, flowing with vocal talents, great vocal melodies, and almost operatic power. However, there remained just a tinge of gimmick, and a lingering question of whether their a capella brand of Metal could contend with their guitar wielding peers. TRIBE OF FORCE, their third long player, stays the course, more Power Metal sans the Power, and has the band still knocking on the door of legitimacy, but doing nothing to open it.
The best, and most successful aspect of Van Canto is their translation of traditional instrumentalized metal into a capella form, or cover songs. After three albums, most of Van Canto's original work remains as it began, a bit bland and boring, save for the occasional captivating tune, usually with the female vocal in the lead, like 'Water. Fire. Heaven. Earth.' on this disc, but even then the instrumental sounds and 'guitar' solo come off a bit silly. Easily, the two most entertaining tunes on the album are both covers, 'Master of Puppets' and Grave Digger's 'Rebellion' which features Chris Boltendahl singing the lead. The a capella thing works with the cover songs, it's just more engaging to hear the works we know done this way. The originals sort of bleed into one another.
Without intending insult, Van Canto are a bit of a gimmick, albeit a very accomplished one. What they do is very unique and entertaining, but still it is outside of the realm of serious Metal. The live experience of Van Canto is probably quite incredible, and I look forward to the day they make it to North America, but to make a bad comparison, they're sort of like Gwar, a band that's not really attractive for their original studio work, but rather the live setting and use of a gimmick. For my money, Van Canto should do all cover songs. They'd sell more and draw more. Still, it's hard to give them a bad score...