Van Canto - Hero review
|Release date:||September 2008|
Disc I [CD]
01. Speed Of Light
02. Kings Of Metal [Manowar cover]
04. Wishmaster [Nightwish cover]
05. The Bard's Song - In The Forest [Blind Guardian cover]
06. Quest For Roar
07. Stormbringer [Deep Purple cover]
08. Take To The Sky
09. Fear Of The Dark [Iron Maiden cover]
11. Carry On [Angra cover] [2009 re-release bonus]
+ Kings Of Metal [Manowar cover] [video] [2009 re-release bonus]
+ Speed Of Light [video] [2009 re-release bonus]
+ Wishmaster [Nightwish cover] [video] [2009 re-release bonus]
Disc II [DVD]
01. The Mission [video]
02. Battery [Metallica cover] [video]
03. Making Of "Battery"
04. Speed Of Light [video]
05. Making Of "Speed Of Light"
06. Rain [video]
07. Brazil [video]
08. Studio Report
09. Track By Track
10. Photo Gallery
So much can be said about Van Canto's second album; it was an album that was their big break in the metal world. Of course, in order to do that, some changes from the first album (which was a nice effort but not nearly as good as Hero) were required. The biggest improvement is the production - their voices are mixed very nicely and sound much more like actual instruments, unlike on the first album, which has pretty much a demo recording quality, so half the stuff got blurry. That allows the clever arrangements to really shine. But that is not the only change.
The album consists of half covers and half original work, and that was certainly a good commercial move by the band, it got them famous in various metal scenes and cliques because they chose those covered songs very carefully. There are, of course, since Van Canto plays/sings power metal, far most covers for the appeal of swordbearers and dragonslayers among metalheads (some of the bands covered are Manowar, Blind Guardian and Angra). But the ones which turned most eyes (and ears) on their work are the covers of metal classics "Battery" and "Fear Of The Dark." They are done perfectly, complementing the original music and have a great groove to them.
But this is not a band that simply covers stuff while writing shitty music. No matter what people have to say against the style they're playing/singing, Van Canto has a quality which I value more than all the technical genius of every progressive artist I adore - they make you feel warm with their songs. Their written material is not only catchy and anthemic, but soulful as well. Though Van Canto's best written work is on the third album, this album and the debut get a fair share as well. It's highly unfair to say any song is better than the other, but if I had to pick a favorite, I'd go for "A Quest For Roar."
Speaking of their execution of the tracks in question, everything is pretty awesome. Of course, the concept wouldn't work unless the singers weren't good at what they do, and that especially goes for the two leading ones. Inga Scharf sounds a lot better than on the first album and gives great performances, especially on "Wishmaster" and "Fear Of The Dark." The leading male vocal, Dennis P. Schunke, is probably one of my favorite power metal singers simply because of finding his own style of singing and delivering it perfectly, unlike those Daniel Heiman and Timo Kotipelto wannabes.
Having said that the production is a big improvement, I must point out one remark though. I'd like to see them recording guitar solos without the studio toys, to make them sound more like a human voice and less like a guitar. That would take away some of the magic that Van Canto has (when you forget those are human voices in the background, you can easily mistake them for instruments!), but it would sound more interesting.
Can you have metal without strings? Van Canto says yes, and a lot of people agree, so why wouldn't you join the rakkatakka army if you already haven't?
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| Troy Killjoy
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