Van Canto – Break the Silence (Napalm Records)

Friday, 22nd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Metal’s own version of The Sing-Off, Germany’s Van Canto return with their five-part vocal originality, once again handling all the melodies and instrumentation outside of Bastian Emig’s natural percussion play. Some will debate whether the sextet could accurately be considered ‘metal’ due to the lack of distortion or electric guitars and bass, but I dare defy anyone to take in tracks like the power metal anthem “If I Die In Battle” or “The Higher Flight” and doubt the emotional charge you’ll get out of their material just like old Metallica or classic Blind Guardian.

It amazes me how the band are able to blend together wah-wah solos, deep bass sounds, male and female vocal melodies and not come off like a typical barber shop quartet. You can also count on Van Canto to take on a couple of known metal songs and give it the A Cappella spin. For this fourth album “Break The Silence” we get “Primo Victoria” from Sabaton, “Master of the Wind” by Manowar and “Bed Of Nails” by Alice Cooper. The latter gives male lead vocalist Philip Dennis Schunke a chance to flex his sinister, playful personality and I believe will be a future crowd pleaser.

Special guest Marcus Siepen (Blind Guardian) lends his acoustic guitartenderness on the ballad “Spelled In Waters,” almost a Seals And Crofts-like effort for the current generation. This effort is one of many reasons why metal reigns supreme in Germany. Innovation plus expansion of thought and style produce left of center acts who keep the genre vital and exciting. Van Canto have that dual potential appeal, already grabbing the power metal hordes but also able to reign in a few of the non-traditional heavy music followers.

Novelty? Van Canto’s vocal prowess lays that assumption to waste with Break the Silence

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