Van Canto - Voices of Fire

Van Canto Voices of Fire cover
Van Canto
Voices of Fire
earMusic
2016
5.5
Average: 5.7 (19 votes)
Van Canto are a joke that has gone way beyond its sell by date, but still it seems to be “selling”? They started by covering stuff and doing small time appearances and their gimmick? They would be an all vocal ensemble (later added drums) imitating all instruments with vocal-isms. Yeah interesting for maybe a viral YouTube video, but a decade and some five, six counting this one releases later that have actually charted high enough, shows that the world is a sucker for “bizarre” things and not necessarily originality.
 
Working with German bestseller author Christoph Hardebusch (“Die Trolle” – engl. “The Trolls”), who is going to release his new fantasy novel “Feuerstimmen” almost simultaneously, which was written in tandem with the album, this appears to be a concept. It certainly doesn’t seem to be the first as Manowar first came up with the idea when they were supposed to work with a fella named Wolfgang Hohlbein in writing a book, “The Asgard Saga'” based on Norse mythology and they were supposed to write an accompanying “soundtrack” to that under the title “Hammer of the Gods” a project that seems to have been aborted ever since…
 
The inclusion of London Metro Voices – a choir which also sang on the soundtracks of the popular blockbuster saga “Lord of the Rings” is somewhat helpful, but not that much impacting given the style and the many layers of vocals with similar timbres and frequencies, ending up in thickening the result, but being unable to rise above the dumdumdum, rakattakka sort of “instrument imitation” sufficiently.
 
The introduction of “Prologue” is so badly “Manowar-ish” featuring a faux “Orson Wells” sort of narrator that it’s insulting and as for opener “Clashings on Armour Plates”, well Luca Turlli and Staropoli (of Rhapsody) could easily ask for a credit as this is a joined rip off “Forest of unicorns” with a decent portion of “Ancient Forest of Elves” (solo Turilli) and just a single original melody, if that wasn’t pilfered from someone else (or another Rhapsody related album, I’m just not able to remember right now!). Also the continuous narrations are mimicking a mix between Tolkien and Manowar, in a way that’s quite cringe worthy.
 
Lead singer Inga handles most of “Dragonwake” that might sound big, but also feels derivative.
 
Sly takes over for “Time and Time Again”, a rather modern and funky number that sounds like “bad broadway metal”… sure he’s a good vocalist, but the same goes for Inga on “All My Life”, a more melodic song that’s a bit like Nightwish/Edenbridge… but has all these annoying dooommm-dum-doooom, dum vocalisms that come too close frequency wise, only avoiding to cover the vocals an awful lot, because they’re mixed on the l/r… it’s just something awfully annoying to the point I’d take the percussion – a key and the non-instrumental harmonies plus drums any day over this mess/the whole reason why Van Canto were even given the time of the day in the first place.
 
Oh yeah and another “faux” Manowar narrated piece, so pimple-faced teens lost in “high fantasy” kingdoms, can lose themselves further into, before “Battleday’s Dawn”, a pompous number that’s actually the first semblance of anything remotely interesting on the album – provided it’s theirs…
 
“Firevows (Join the Journey)” begins with some quantized vocal instruments over percussion, but it’s the leads that impress…
 
“The Oracle” would have been a pretty interesting, I’d probably saw awesome song, if it had normal instrumentation, but the excellent choirs and leads are almost buried under the gimmick instru-vocals.
 
“The Betrayal” is probably the song most plagued by the “gimmick” although after starting up impressively, it sort of veers on and on, without much focus. I feel bad for the choir they used, having to be heard lower than all this hum-drum the band calls, instrumentation…
 
“We’re One” is similarly affected with the whole “VC” antagonizing the voices of Sly and Inga, who at this point assumes a pseudo operatic style too… if I could focus on the song and not the annoyance I might have liked it, who knows.
 
The intro of “Bardcall” is the only portion without annoying “van cantisms – so it’s the only one I could give a damn for… also almost understanding the “concept” at this point, I must say it’s almost as bad, as Dream Theater’s “The Astonishing”, if it was performed by Manowar.
 
“To Catharsis” has a few interesting portions and thankfully here, I think that the high rakattaka’s are minimal, so it’s a bit more audible… there seems to be something akin of a “guitar solo” but it must be some really modulated voice, I guess…
 
Finally “Epilogue” is another dodgy narration about I dunno “cthulu” – because the lore seems to steal a lot of words from that…
 
Well, I’ll give it to Van Canto that they try a good deal on the vocals, but with a clear cut case of plagiarism and the annoying “instrumentation” that is a complete killjoy, I doubt there’s any chance I would ever be able to enjoy the “rest”… of Manowar inspired power metal cheesiness. Purely based on the efforts of the lead vocalists…

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