Van Canto’s Dawn of the Brave has come

…and it is here to stay

Van Cantos Dawn of the Brave has come

Sean Pruett-Jones, Staff Reporter

Just to clear this up – Van Canto is a cappella metal. For those who don’t know what a cappella is, its music made using nothing but voices. For those who don’t know what metal is, I pity you.

You’ll notice right off the bat that Van Canto cheats a little bit with the use of an actual drum kit (and they are wonderfully played Bastian Emig), but it’s easily forgiven because of the quality of the playing, and the genuine metal vibes it imbues into the music. The five other band members use naught but their voices, to imitate everything your typical power metal band might have. Ingo sings the bass, Ross and Stefan (who occasionally gives us some guitar solos, still using only his voice) blast out the riffs with the rum-dums and riddly-diddlys and other such sounds like rakka-takka, darin-darin, mum-mum-mum-mum, so on.  Above it all, Inga and Sly provide the main vocals, and boy do they kill it. Sly’s voice is as powerful as the power metal itself, and Inga’s voice is a great female vocalist addition.

I’ve known about Van Canto for quite some time and I’ve shown it to a multitude of people, each of which has found something they like about the band. The first time I ever heard Van Canto (“Lost Forever”, off of Tribe of Force) I just didn’t know how to take it, but by the 700,000th time I had listened to it, I was flailing around, screaming “ROLLIN-DA-RUN-DUNDUNDOOOOO-DUN-DUNNN-DUN-DUN” at the top of my lungs.

Come 2014, Dawn of the Brave was released, so I preordered it, the deluxe special edition. If you’re familiar with Van Canto, Dawn of the Brave will definitely be another great entry into the band’s archive, one that you’ll be listening to for years to come right alongside Tribe of Force. Even though Dawn of the Brave may be devoid of any real surprises, it is a great starting point for any newcomers.

As I said, the band’s classic song “Lost Forever” will always get me dancing and headbanging. In Dawn of the Brave, they take the headbanging factor to a whole new level through slightly shorter and more intense songs. Normally, a typical Van Canto song lasts closer to five minutes, some going into six-seven minute range, and the occasional shorter song at about three or four minutes. In Dawn of the Brave, though, everything is on average 3:50, with two five minute songs. It’s not a bad thing, it’s simply something to take note of. Still, it’s also worth noting that the shorter and more powerful songs work so perfectly well with the album’s superhero theme.

I mean, just look at that album cover! It’s some buff dude, standing on top of a MOUNTAIN of destroyed guitars! A confident look like he’s just about to blow your face off  and send you flying into the stratosphere with nothing but the power of his voice!

This album is all about power, strength, and confidence. They have an entire freaking song quite literally about their voice being so powerful as to shake the Earth. Yeah, it’s as great as it sounds. This is an album by a bunch of guys who know what they’re doing and who they are, which is a kind of power in and of itself, and it shines through the album so incredibly well. It’s filled with powerful moments that are still going on in my head, and even the slower songs like “The Other Ones” and their amazing cover of “Into the West” (yeah, the one from LOTR 3, you know the one) have a level of confidence and willpower that resonates long and hard. Some of the bands best riffs to date are in this album, like the bridge in “Fight For Your Life”, the chorus of “Unholy”, and the entirety of “Steel Breaker”. The band covers “The Final Countdown” by Europe, “Holding out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler, “Into the West” by Annie Lennox, and “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath on Dawn of the Brave. It’s strange how they managed to make “Holding out for a Hero” heavy as lead and still work so well. Sly’s voice brings a new greatness to “The Final Countdown”, and Inga’s voice is eerily great for “Into the West”. These covers will easily join the line of Van Canto’s other great covers like “Fear of the Dark” (Iron Maiden), “Master of Puppets” (Metallica), “Kings of Metal” (Manowar), and many others.

As I said earlier, this album is not exactly filled with surprises. Nowhere did the band make another epic like “A Storm To Come” (one of the bonus tracks off of Break the Silence), which, to me, is one of the band’s finest achievements because of its daring approach clocking in at 9 minutes. Nothing exactly reached quite the level of “Lost Forever”, either. But still, nothing on Dawn of the Brave fell below greatness.  I must give them credit for doing something spectacular – they had 200 Van Cantians participate in the choir recordings that you can hear in select songs, with their pictures put into the CD booklet. Dawn of the Brave also exhibited a new level of coherence between the band mates – everything was solid, coherent, crisp, clean, with nothing feeling out of place. Even the one song I don’t care for, “The Awakening”, still has a perfect performance.

A cappella metal may not be for you. Maybe you don’t like a cappella (like my guitar teacher, he doesn’t care for Van Canto’s style, which is fine) or you don’t like metal (and I pity you). There’s no denying that Van Canto is somewhat silly, and I think the band understands this, and they embrace it. Regardless of how silly or ridiculous you might think it is, Van Canto really does deliver some top notch music, production, performances, the whole power metal shebang. If you haven’t heard a single Van Canto song and you want an album simply for the heck of it, start with Dawn of the Brave or Tribe of Force – the two are pretty much tied.