Van Canto’s fifth release has been with us or about a month now but it is possible, if not even likely, that you haven’t come across this most unusual of metal bands yet. The reason we label them as unusual is that while they are surely metal they definitely do not fit the mold of any metal band that you have heard before in that their members are made up of a drummer and five vocalists with no guitar or bass players as you would typically expect.
How is this possible you ask? Simply put there are male and female lead vocalists in addition to three others who emulate the instruments that you would expect to be in their place: rhythm guitar, lead guitar and bass guitar.
When EMTv’s fearless leader Mark Dillon first asked me to take on the assignment I have to admit to being very skeptical – how could a band without guitarists of any kind possibly hope to be metal in any way? Yet after multiple pleasurable hearings I am left with no other conclusion but this: metal is not just simply the employment of guitars, bass and drums but is a sound and an attitude that can be arrived at with great success through non-traditional means.
Longtime fans of Van Canto have known this for a few albums now and 200 of them can be heard on the album acting as its ‘choir’ to great effect. Musically Dawn of the Brave is classic power metal with soaring melodies and hero themes that you might expect from the genre but here’s the surprise: rather than simply saying that Van Canto is a novelty act who pulls off a cute trick I’ve come to the conclusion that this is one of the finest power metal albums that I’ve heard in some time.
The albums is comprised of 13 tracks – 9 originals including the short intro and four excellent covers that cover a broad spectrum. These include a brooding version of Europe’s The Final Countdown, Annie Lennox’s LOTR contribution Into the West, a surprisingly uplifting version of the schmaltzy Bonnie Tyler tune Holding Out For a Hero and Black Sabbath’s’ Paranoid whose a cappella treatment works surprisingly well.
The album’s originals are excellent power metal tunes with nary a weak moment among them. Fans of the genre can expect nothing short of excellence in terms of the song writing and overall production. What is particularly notable is the reproduction by voice of various bass guitar parts as well as lead guitar – there are moments where it is easy to forget that they are being sung and not played in the traditional way.
The final verdict: Dawn of the Brave scores an incredible 95/100 as a terrific power metal album, ‘gimmick’ notwithstanding. Fans of the genre will absolutely love it.