Van Canto + Grailknights + End of the Dream
@ Islington Academy, London
24th March, 2016
Review by Jacob Ovington
Photography by Graham Hilling
A metal band without guitars? Yes, that’s right. In fact Van Canto don’t use any instruments at all, they’re the world’s first and only acapella metal outfit. All of their sound is produced by their voices, except the drums. Tonight they were headlining Islington Academy. Producing acapella metal in a studio is one thing, but the stamina it takes to manage a full headline set is another. Let’s see how they fare.
But it’s dark and melodic and it’s done and played very well.
Their sound and image is a lot darker than what’s to follow, so they seem like an odd choice for an opener on this occasion.
Next up, the Grailknights come charging in and from the beginning it’s quite clear that they’re a comedy based act.
They combine cheesy, self deprecating humour with fast and equally cheesy heavy metal.
Sporting cliché superhero outfits and fake muscles, their over-the-top image is a big part of the act.
Their set consists of a lot of theatricality and revolves around the plot of the band (the heroes) battling Dr. Skull (the villain) who has stolen the Holy Grail. Their mission is to reclaim it.
They played well, but their set wasn’t just about the music. The story, the costumes and everything were an integral part of the package.
At one point a costume horse gallops onto the stage which was done so stupidly it was funny. Also included was a sword fight and a superhero workout.
Finally, the main headliners, Van Canto are up. Their set is a mix of covers and some of their own original material.
Each member performs their own instrument and sticks to it, there’s no switching around. What’s supposed to be shredding for a lot of the time sounded like Quagmire from Family Guy going into “giggidy giggidy” overload.
With all of their voices combined they managed to create a sound as loud and as full as it would have been with the usual heavy metal instruments.
The use of drums helped to add a lot of weight to the music. They also managed to keep it up for the whole show as well.
Both the male and female lead vocals were skilled and tuneful, and the female vocals had a really nice character to them which brought the songs to life.
One of the most memorable moments of the set was ‘Kings of Metal’, which went down a storm. A cover of ‘Wishmaster’ by Nightwish also pleased the crowds, although it can’t really be compared to the original.
The night ended with a cover of ‘Fear of the Dark’ which is originally by Iron Maiden. It’s a very powerful song, and credit to Van Canto as their acapella cover really did do it justice!
Overall it was a great evening full of light (heavy) entertainment!