This review was originally written by Jose Bernardo for www.theweeklyriff.com between 2008 and 2010.
These were Jose’s first impressions of the songs and were not written after multiple spins.
Artist : van Canto
Album : Tribe of Force (2010 Napalm Records)
Tracks : 13
Artist website : http://www.vancanto.de/
REVIEW OVERVIEW :
When the words “a capella” come up, I think of Mahattan Transfer, Rockapella, Gregorian Chant, or Roman Catholic preists (who normally sing out of tune). Never, would I have thought of the concept that van Canto is built on! This concept and music is ingenious!
With the exception of their drummer, van Canto is a metal band that is completely made up of singers. When I got this album and read the description, I decided to first check out the band’s website. Sure enough, they had a video on there featuring the first track from this album. I was hooked!
This is the band’s third album and I will surely be checking out their back catalog. This is the album that will convert your non-metal significant other who listens to other a capella groups.
Overall, I really enjoyed this album. The only weaknesses I felt were that the resonance of the drums was muffled. I think those natural harmonics and tones could have augmented the band’s sound.
THE GUITAR SOLOS – I am absolutely amazed that these are human voices.
Lost Forever, One To Ten, My Voice, Master of Puppets
PLAY BY PLAY REVIEW
Track 1 – Lost Forever
Really cool opening track! Great energy! The spot that would normally contain a guitar solo sounded awesome! I was fooled and had to listen to it again just to be sure it was a human voice and not a guitar!
Track 2 – To Sing A Metal Song
This song sounds much fuller in the harmonies than the first track. Really cool song.
Track 3 – One To Ten
Great energy! I really dug this track! This track has a powermetalness to it. (I had to re-listen to the track on the spot and I never do that while reviewing!)
Track 4 – I Am Human
Great track! Catchy!
Track 5 – My Voice
I totally head banged to this track! Awesome, awesome energy on this one! The arrangement is perfect.
Track 6 – Rebellion
This one is probably the “heaviest” track on the album. Cool track.
Track 7 – Last Night Of The Kings
The intro on this song is the kind of song I thought I was going to hear when I first read the description of the album. I’m so happy that this was not the first song on the album. That said, I think it is a strong song and the fact that it is so far into the album is a good thing. Also, to be really an a capella group, it is important to have one track without the drums. This track has a really strong medieval feel to it.
Track 8 – Tribe Of Force
Pretty good title track. A little bit “poppy”.
Track 9 – Water.Fire.Heaven.Earth
This track has a “symphonic metal” feel to it. Very cool!
Track 10 – Master Of Puppets
Oh wow! This is something I could totally picture the monsters of Sesame Street doing! Amazing! I almost had the same feeling when hearing this like when I first heard Apocalyptica’s all cello version. It would be awesome to hear what those two bands would sound like combined on this track.
Track 11 – Magic Taborea
After hearing what the band is capable of on the previous track, this track was a bit underwhelming. However, it’s not a bad track. I have a feeling that those orchestral strings are not done with human voices and they may have had a little help from either real strings or synthesized ones. If those are human voices, then I am totally amazed by the talent of these guys.
Track 12 – Hearted
Track 13 – Frodo’s Dream
This is the most “out there” of all the tracks on the album. It’s almost operatic and medieval. I’m glad this is the last track. It should have been given “bonus track” status.
A big thanks again to Ben at Napalm Records for sharing their artists’ work with us!
I would love to hear what this band would do with Steve Vai’s “Firewall” or any of the more complex Dream Theater songs.