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Van Canto: Dawn of the Brave
Van Canto Dawn of the Brave CD Album Review

Van Canto: Dawn of the Brave

A Cappella Melodic Metal

If you have caught on to Van Canto yet, the concept is easy to explain. They're a cappella metal band. Excepting the drums, five singers including one female perform all other parts, vocals expressing everything from bass line to guitar solos. Dawn of the Brave is their fifth studio album.

Van Canto Dawn of the Brave Band Photo

Van Canto: will knock you out.

While I still think it's all rather impressive, it's getting rather predictable. I might even add that, this time around, the arrangements are clearly more 'vocal' with the vocal arrangements seeming to sound less like a musical instrument. Perhaps this is what Van Canto has been going for since their incarnation. There are exceptions to this. A song like Steel Breaker definitely finds the vocalists defining individual instrumental parts. Alternatively, if the band ever wanted to add actual instruments to the band, they would still have a huge vocal presence.

Regarding song selection, I've always found wrapping my head around original material more difficult than the cover songs Van Canto would do. Some of this is the simple fact that the melodic vocal line of a song is often critical to the arrangement and listening enjoyment. When your band and arrangements revolve completely around this, it's even more important because, at first listen, it will be unfamiliar. But you could say this about every new album and new song from any band. Nevertheless, you'll catch on. Some of the best vocal arrangements come with the aforementioned Steel Breaker, but also The Other Ones, To The Mountains, and Badaboom (watch below).

As for the cover songs, which I'll admit I went to first, it's a mixed bag of performance and interest. Europe's The Final Countdown gets the melody, but not quite the grandeur of the synth line. Holding Out For a Hero, from the 1984 movie Footloose, written by Jim Steinman (Meatloaf, et al) and sung by Bonnie Tyler, fares much better, capturing the songs urgency and quick pace. With Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Van Canto gets the substance of the original arrangement, but can't quite grasp Ozzy's creepy desperation. Finally, Van Canto attempts Into The West, from the The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King film. It's nice, more choral and larger in character, whereas the Annie Lennox version is more emotional, carries a certain sadness, which Van Canto doesn't quite get.

Nevertheless, Van Canto keeps their a cappella concept rolling along, with both curious and entertaining results.

Van Canto - Badaboom - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

In Short

With Dawn of the Brave, Van Canto keeps their a cappella concept rolling along, with both curious and entertaining results.

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