Van Canto – “To The Power Of Eight” (Napalm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Probably unique in the metal world, Van Canto are Germany’s power metal answer to a cappella, as voiced through six singers while using a real drummer. Also mixing in symphonic and heavy metal elements into what the band call ‘hero metal a cappella’, there’s certainly a strong uplifting if not epic element to Van Canto’s music, as evidenced on seven prior releases, not forgetting performances at 70,000 Tons Of Metal, Wacken and Masters of Rock. Here, on the aptly titled “To The Power Of Eight”, they knock out a mixture of new songs as well as stirring covers including Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To The Hills’, Queen’s ‘I Want It All’ and Amon Amarth’s ‘Raise Your Horns’! However, the really special treat is the guest appearance of a third lead vocalist in Dennis ‘Sly’ Schunke, who of course was Van Canto’s lead singer on their first six studio records. Joining the current lead vocal team of Inga Scharf and Hagen Hirschmann, Schunke more than makes his presence felt by giving the 12 tracks a really nostalgic touch. Building the heartfelt epic passion on the title track intro, ‘Dead By The Night’ soon revs in through the powerful ‘rakkatakka’ vocals from Ross Thompson (higher guitars), Stefan Schmidt (lower guitars), Jan Moritz (pad and bass) and Ingo Sterzinger (bass), over which the male and female leads add their screams, wails and more than abundant soul to make this more than catchy but a true audio experience whether you’re new to the band or a loyal follower still mesmerised by the a cappella majesty! Adding a glam touch to the kick ass hard rock of ‘Hardrock Padlock’, the smooth male lead vocals are superbly contrasted by Scharf’s enticing wails before she joins them to hit a homerun into you on the dynamite air punching chorus. Of the covers, then AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ will take some beating as Angus Young’s fretboard boogie is brilliantly recreated along with Beano Johnson’s screaming highs and completed by a resounding backing chorus of ‘Thunder! Thunder!’ – completely mind blowing – and that’s what you get from Van Canto!