A Capella metal band Van Canto made their name with their covers of classic songs from bands like Nightwish, Sabaton, Metallica, Manowar and more. On this album however there are only two cover versions – Helloween’s “Ride the sky” and ACDC’s “Hells bells”. On the one hand it’s admirable that they’re steadily reducing the amount of covers, but on the other they lose some of their wider appeal, especially if their songs arent up to the same standard.
If you havent heard Van Canto before, it’s A capella metal – ie all vocals. To be precise, they have a drummer and 6 vocalists. Two of them sing lead vocals while the rest take the place of the other instruments. It may seem odd to start with but they have worked with Joakim Broden (Sabaton), and Marcus Siepen (Blind Guardian) on previous albums and Kai Hansen (Helloween/Unisonic/Gamma Ray) appears on this album. Van Canto appeared on one of Tarja Turunens abums and they joined Gravedigger on stage at Wacken a few years ago, and they have also played festivals in their own right across Europe including Wacken Open Air.
Last year lead singer Dennis “Sly” Schunke left the band and was replaced by Hagen Hirschmann. It’s a change that is noticeable as you listen to the album – I’m just not as impressed by Hagen’s vocals as I was by Sly’s. That’s the first negative. The second and larger one is the songs – they just don’t really impress me as much as previous albums have. The standout tracks by far are the two cover versions, particularly “Ride the sky” with Kai Hansen providing vocals.
Van Canto albums in the past have usually been mostly great songs with the odd one that just didn’t really work, but his time I think they’ve failed to live up to the standard of previous albums with the album mostly being average with just a few great songs. Doubts over the lead vocals aside, the performance of the band isn’t in question – they do a great job. Instead its mainly the songs they’ve chosen and the production that means they all blend into one long and not that exciting stream.
A sadly disappointing album from Van Canto – the first of their albums I probably won’t go out and buy.
1. Back in the lead
3. Trust in rust
4. Ride the sky
7. Desert snake
8. Darkest days
10. Hells bells
11. Heading home