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  VAN CANTO
'Dawn Of The Brave'
(Napalm Records)
Release Date: 7th February 2014


Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke

Rockulus Maximus



the brew

Founded in 2006, this German six-piece are all about pushing boundaries. Why do I say this? Well, who in their right minds thought that tackling Heavy Metal in a mostly A cappella approach was a good idea?! It makes me laugh to think of such a concept frankly.

Bastian Emig is the only exception to this modest troupe who enjoys bashing the skins as if his life depended on it. So the other five members tackle vocal duties which include impersonating a guitar solo, frantic bass plucking and the overall rounding out of a distinctive Rock music sound.

Slowly but surely you realise why this all works and you also get a sense of their Metal credentials, as they contributed their talents on albums by Blind Guardian, Tarja Turunen and Grave Digger. On occasion whilst listening to this fifth studio album you forget that you're listening to voices and fall victim to their convincing performances believing that this is an entire conventional band. It makes me quietly chuckle to myself as I gave this album several spins digesting what I was hearing and finding myself being won over without any doubt.

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There are several cover versions which break up the flow of their own material. Cover versions of the 80s cheesy Bonnie Tyler anthem 'Holding Out For A Hero'; Europe's commercial highlight 'The Final Countdown'; Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid' plus an interesting rendition of the Annie Lennox 'Lord Of The Rings' contribution 'Into The West'.

These all work and are a delight to listen to as they perform them with conviction under the production of Charlie Bauerfeind (known for his work with Blind Guardian and Helloween amongst others) who took care of the drum sound. Ronald Prent (known for his work with Manowar and Rammstein amongst others) mixed the overall sound on the album and has done a sterling job.

Amongst their own compositions, 'Fight For Your Life', 'Steel Breaker' and 'My Utopia' stand out as worthy victors, although to be fair to 'Dawn Of The Brave' the whole album was an instant joy. I did read somewhere while researching the band that around 200 fans contributed to the choir parts.

Whether that is an accurate addition to this review as I type it, I cannot say. It may be relevant to a previous album, but whatever the truth, I have to say that the sound is awesome allowing the attitude and delivery to shine through.

'Unholy' bounces along and get the toes tapping before settling in calmer waters and then the pace is raised once more. The chorus is uplifting which is an element this band does so effectively throughout 'Dawn Of The Brave'.

Echoing a previous album ('Hero' – 2008) regarding their fascination with courage and individuals who rise above their brethren, this album has a visual theme which centres on super heroes. They have Stefan Heilemann to thank for the visual interpretation and the excellent cover artwork.

I guess the argument could be made that due to the lack of any guitar that you cannot truly call this rock music, or that it contains its fair amount of cheesy moments. My response is to give it a spin and give it a chance if you're not already familiar with this German combo. On the other hand if you fell in love with their cover version of Metallica's 'Battery' that appeared on their debut 'A Storm To Come' from 2006, then you'll not only know what to expect but you'll also enjoy this album a lot.

Dawn Of The Brave
Fight For Your Life
To The Mountains
Badaboom
The Final Countdown
Steel Breaker
The Awakening
The Other Ones
Holding Out For A Hero
Unholy
My Utopia
Into The West
Paranoid

Philip Dennis Schunke (Sly) - Lead Vocals
Inga Scharf - Lead Vocals
Ross Thompson - Higher Rakkatakka Vocals
Stefan Schmidt - Lower Rakkatakka Vocals & Wahwah Solo Guitar Vocals
Ingo Sterzinger (Ike) - Doom A Bass Vocals
Bastian Emig - Drums


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