The German A Cappella Metal band VAN CANTO returns to the scene with a new release. The same principle remains: five vocalists, one drummer. In 2010 the band released their third album, “Tribe Of Force” (see the review here), which was quite a solid album, in my humble opinion. Perhaps their best so far. My only problem were the way Stefan sings the guitar solos, which are always in “wah wah” style. Plus, also due to personal preferences, the band keeps their style between Heavy and Power Metal. Going extreme could be an option, but if that’s not what they want to do, no harm in that. Each band plays the style it prefers or feels most comfortable with. VAN CANTO are good at what they do, so…
Anno 2011 a new album is thus ready and this since the 23rd September, under the title “Break The Silence”. VAN CANTO has sung/played covers since their debut album, so I guess they have become a classic element in the band’s repertoire. This time three covers can be found on the album: “Primo Victoria” (SABATON) featuring Joakim Broden, “Bed Of Nails” (ALICE COOPER) and “Master Of The Wind” (MANOWAR). The other seven songs are own compositions, with a guest appearance on guitar by BLIND GUARDIAN axeman Marcus Siepen. The limited edition digipack features a bonus
cover song (“Bad to the Bone” by RUNNING WILD). In addition, the track “Betrayed” features a symphonic “metal-a-cappella” piece with orchestral support, while “A Storm to Come” unveils an exclusive bonus: the first song from “Peer Returns”, the VAN CANTO Crossmedia-Projekt to premiere at the end of this year.
“Break The Silence” starts with “If I Die In Battle”. The vocal intro comes first, followed by melodies that remind of GRAVE DIGGER’s “The Clans Are Marching”. Inga falls in, followed by Sly, announcing great tidings! And yes, things get more powerful, especially with the drums. The bridge offers a nice contrast between female and male singing, after which pounding double-bass epicness can be heard in the chorus. This is a very nice song, in vein of HELLOWEEN, GAMMA RAY and so on. The obligatory solo was sung as well, obviously. “The Seller Of Souls” is a tight and powerful Heavy Metal track. The melodic side comes from the vocals, while the overall power grows with each part, especially the bridge and chorus. A job well done. The SABATON cover “Primo Victoria” is not bad, but isn’t better or as good as the original, even if it has SABATON’s vocalist as guest.
“Dangers In My Head” stars with a little suspense, after which the drums set in. Then you get Poppy stuff with clean male vocals, which aren’t that good or better, the timbre doesn’t fit. You could compare it, somehow, to OASIS’s “Wonderwall” song. It’s a midtempo track, very radio-friendly, and Inga joins for the duet. Musically, despite the nice rhythmic part halfway, there’s something missing, like a guitar lead or anything similar. “Black Wings Of Hate”, a title that sounds promising and logically you would expect an aggressive song, begins with slow building. The drums play a key role in this. Inga takes on the lead vocals, even tries some operatic singing. The song itself is slow and dark (i.e. inline with the title) and although it’s well performed/recorded, it’s not as attractive as the other songs.
And then comes the second cover, ALICE COOPER’s “Bed Of Nails”. I have to admit, VAN CANTO did a good job here, even though it’s hard to get the same result with voices only. But they did well, honestly. Time for Marcus Siepen’s guest appearance in “Spelled In Waters”. It starts acoustically (that’s Marcus’s input). Male and female vocals, aka Sly and Inga, take turns. However, Sly’s clean singing is so different from the way he normally sings (with a rough edge). I personally prefer his normal singing. I understand you don’t need a heavy/rough voice when the music isn’t as rough, but still… there’s no need to go superclean either. Overall, this is one of the weak songs on the album.
But the situation improves with the heavier “Neuer Wind” (“New Wind”). It’s nice to hear the band in its native language and the song itself is quite tight and good to the ear, so to speak. But it lacks the spark that is present when sung in English. That’s also due to the German language, of course. But in general, this song is one of the highlights on “Break The Silence”. And so is the uptempo and feel-good “The Higher Flight”. The MANOWAR cover “Master Of The Wind” is… not good. Inga sings here and it’s clear this song was not written for a female voice or one with Inga’s timbre. Inga is a good singer, no doubt about that at all, but this song is not fit for her, in my humble opinion.
One of VAN CANTO’s trademarks is catchy, epic choruses. The rest completes the compositions, the songs themselves. The vocal performance that replaces the instrumentation is again well done, the singing itself is not always that good. Sly’s rough-edged voice is also typical for the band, but perhaps he relies on that aspect a bit too much. Yes, I didn’t like his clean singing either, but that’s because it was too extreme there. Inga again delivers, but not as well as before, I had the impression. As if she lacked volume or power. “Tribe Of Force” had overall more stronger songs than this new release, “Break The Silence”. Take out the less good songs and you’ve got a very nice EP. All in all, I would say, a step back for this A Cappella band.
- If I Die In Battle
- The Seller Of Souls
- Primo Victoria (SABATON cover)
- Dangers In My Head
- Black Wings Of Hate
- Bed Of Nails (ALICE COOPER cover)
- Spelled In Waters
- Neuer Wind
- The Higher Flight
- Master Of The Wind (MANOWAR cover)
Philip Dennis “Sly” Schunke – lead vocals
Inga Scharf – lead vocals
Stefan Schmidt – lower “Rakkatakka” vocals, “Wahwah” solo guitar vocals
Ross Thompson – higher “Rakkatakka” vocals
Ingo “Ike” Sterzinger – lowest “Dandan” voice chords
Bastian Emig – drums
[xrr rating=3/5 =”Rating: “]