Van Canto – “Voices Of Fire” (earMUSIC)
Renowned over the past decade as an a cappella ensemble using real drums, Van Canto have taken a big step on this 5th album to collaborate in a unique metal musical! Teaming up with German bestselling author Christoph Hardebusch who is going to release his new fantasy novel ‘Feuerstimmen’ this month, the sextet will set the story to music across 17 bard songs in the audio novel. Employing the London Metro Voices (choir for ‘Lord of The Rings’), Van Canto’s epic new style matches Hardebusch’s fantasy world filled with competing kingdoms, epic battles, dragons, elemental fire and bards. With a mixture of clean male and female vocals, the remaining trio pump their voices to imitate the guitars and bass, which in the past has been noticeable, but this time round really do sound like the original instruments themselves! In fact, everyone involved here really sounds like they pulled out the stops on this one with vocalist Dennis “Sly” Schunke even working hand in hand with Hardebusch to develop the plot from start to finish. This goes a long way to explain the quality of the music and performances – nothing short of Van Canto’s best to date and worthy of the national praise they are sure receive in Germany! Mixing modern musical styles with operatic and symphonic aspects has taken this band to new heights that I never thought possible from what most people might perceive as a novelty or ‘fun’ act. Moreover, in the epic songs they have blended Manowar’s bombastic style with Freedom Call’s uplifting speed to create hugely catchy songs like ‘Battleday’s Dawn’ and when mixing in even more catchy folk really give us something to dance about in ‘The Bardcall’. You can literally feel the passion and emotion exuding out of the music as if you are not just there in front of the band but moreover, in Hardebusch’s world itself and that surely must be the ultimate test for any crossover media project. Van Canto have got the mix just right on “Voices Of Fire”, balancing the right imitated sounds with real ones unlike other bands using drum machines and fake orchestras, not that they’ve forgotten their ‘rakkatakka’ days – just check out ‘The Betrayal’! Particularly slick n swanky vocal performances from the aforementioned Schunke and his femme counterpart Inga Scharf like on ‘Time And Time Again’ make them almost Broadway worthy, but truth be told this praiseworthy summation of creative interaction marks a whole new, very big chapter in the band’s history as a whole.