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Van Canto - "Dawn Of The Brave" (CD)

Van Canto - "Dawn Of The Brave" CD cover image

"Dawn Of The Brave" track listing:

1. Dawn of the Brave
2. Fight for Your Life
3. To the Mountains
4. Badaboom
5. The Final Countdown (Europe Cover)
6. Steel Breaker
7. The Awakening
8. The Other Ones
9. Holding Out For A Hero (Bonnie Tyler Cover)
10. Unholy
11. My Utopia
12. Into the West (Annie Lennox/Lord of the Rings Soundtrack Cover)
13. Paranoid (Black Sabbath Cover)

Reviewed by on January 27, 2014

"[T]he band has become so 'vocally conventional' that introducing the guitars would not only kill the uniqueness, it would reduces the band to ordinary."

The door to the house opened, it was my wife returning home from work. I was at my desk writing, trolling the net and listening to “Dawn of the Brave,” from the world’s most unique band. As customary, the rich sound flooded the house surrounding the first floor with pounding metallic beauty. Unknown to me, having been lost within the sonic journey, my wife stood behind me. “To the Mountains” was about 2:40 in at the point of the solo, when I turned my head to find her head bobbing. She smiled and said “wow, what a great guitarist.” I chuckled…since my wife was already a fan of Van Canto and should have known. Playing along, I said “Yeah, that’s Stefan Schmidt, he is a really good guitarist….only here is playing a solo with his voice.” “Really? Ohhh yeah, this is that a Cappella band!,” she said.

Too often, I have used Van Canto in similar situations – choosing to get reactions before dropping the bombshell that what makes this band so unique is that they have a drummer and all vocalists. Sure, the band is building a nice fanbase and many know the gig, but fooling people is half the fun.

“Dawn of the Brave” continues to propel this ultra-talented vocal group into a category no other band can truly reach. Refining abilities, each member continues to defy logic, get “heavier” and become more indistinguishable to the respective “instruments” they play. In fact, the band has become so “vocally conventional” that introducing guitars would not only kill the uniqueness, it would reduce the band to ordinary. Over an eight year existence, the band continues to grow, but so do the haters. It is high time critics drop the “comedic novelty” description and accept the band for having incredible talent. “Dawn of the Brave” has songs that rival any electrified power metal counterparts.

The original material offered on this release is by far some of the best the band has ever presented in an already stacked back catalog. “Unholy” and “My Utopia” already rank as the two best written tracks in the band’s history. Add in the hard rockin’, but infectiously fun “Steel Breaker” and “Fight For Your Life,” the latter continuing the band’s tradition of inspiring and positive lyrics. “Your facing haters, marooned by traitors, and every morning, instead of mourning, wake up and stand up to fight!” Inspiring fans aside, this lyric also seems to embody the crusade for recognition that the band has been on.

There has not been a Van Canto release without a bunch of cool covers. Sure, you can dismiss the need for another Black Sabbath “Paranoid” cover, but I’m pretty sure that it hadn’t been done by an a Cappella act before. Outside of the sure shock value of hearing Metallica’s “Battery” performed a Cappella (back on the 2006 debut “A Storm to Come”), the best cover in the band’s history comes here in the form of “Into the West,” the tear jerking ending song of the Lord of the Rings trilogy movie series, originally performed by Annie Lennox. This gorgeous rendition is highlighted by Inga Scharf, who is not only one of the biggest unsung heroes in Van Canto, but who could easily lead any popular female fronted metal act. Add a fist pumping rendition of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and the a Cappella metalized Bonnie Taylor hit “Holding Out for a Hero,” and Van Canto continues to make intelligent choices for covers.

With continued excitement and interest, “Dawn of the Brave” should be viewed as the strongest offering from Van Canto. Instantly contagious, never mundane….you simply can never guess whether Van Canto will give you a “rakka-takka,” a “bee-de-bee-de” or a “don-don-don.” Come to think of it, this sounds strikingly similar to how a fan would approach an album featuring their favorite guitarist. Huh, go figure.

Highs: Van Canto continues to find new ways to be original and clever.

Lows: A lack of guitar for traditional fans will be blasphemy.

Bottom line: Van Canto continues an upward battle to achieve a dawn of acceptance.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)