If you haven’t heard of Van Canto yet, then you’ve been missing out big-time. Performing their music entirely a-cappella with nothing but a drum kit to support them, they make for an engaging listen and they perform both original songs and covers – with past releases seeing them interpret Manowar, Nightwish, Running Wild and Alice Cooper tracks amongst others. 2014 sees them return with perhaps their strongest album to date, Dawn Of The Brave, which even features over 200 Van Canto fans taking part in the choir recordings!
After an engaging introduction, the album gets properly underway with Fight For Your Life, a memorable number that shows the band are fully on form. It has all the makings of a good Van Canto song, from the huge lead vocals, effect/distortion-fuelled vocal solos and of course, all the ‘ba-da-da-dums’ and ‘dan-dan-dans’ as support!
We’ve already heard fourth track Badaboom and it’s clear why this song was chosen as the lead single for the album because it’s a strong offering that you’ll find yourself singing along to in no time. It’s got an absolutely massive and epic sound to it, and showcases just how talented and unique this band is – in all honesty, it sums up the album rather well as a whole, so if you’ve heard this song and enjoyed it, then chances are you’ll love Dawn Of The Brave too.
Of course Dawn Of The Brave isn’t without some cover songs too, with Europe’s The Final Countdown and Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero getting the rakkatakka treatment amongst others. The Final Countdown is a song that’s been covered countless times by many different bands, but this is definitely one of the more unique versions and is a great take on the classic – it’s got an overall warmer and thicker sound to it and just works perfectly.
It’s the cover of Holding Out For A Hero that is one of the runaway successes of the album, however. I’m a big fan of Bonnie Tyler (I’m Welsh, what do you expect?) so to have a version of it performed by another incredible artist is a very big deal for me personally. Although it doesn’t have the overdramatic ‘booms’ of the Bonnie Tyler version and it is a bit strange to hear the song without Bonnie’s husky and powerful vocals, it really is a fantastic cover – possibly the best cover Van Canto have ever done. It’s a fresh new imagining of the song and is a mind-blowing interpretation – it’s epic, to say the least.
Following Holding Out For A Hero is Unholy, which definitely needs a few listens to fully take in. There’s a lot going on and on every listen you just seem to notice something new. It has a gripping and chunky introduction that lends itself well to the song, juxtaposing nicely with the sparser-sounding verse before you’re hit with a wall of noise of all band members in perfect pitch with one another – now that is talent.
Van Canto are back with their best album to date – you aren’t going to want to miss this one because it’s a true work of art.