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Here we have a cappella metal nutters Van Canto. Yes, you read that right, this is indeed a cappella metal with the accompaniment of drums. So, one initial question is - what the fuck?! At least this was my initial reaction upon first hearing Van Canto a year or so ago. It is indeed exactly what it says on the tin - metal recreated through polyphonic vocals. Ambitious? Most certainly. Talented? Absolutely. Mad? Oh, fuck yeah. Fun? Yes too, and dare I say 'funny' as well...unintentionally, I guess, but nonetheless funny. Any album that puts a smile on your face from the very first bar of music and keeps you smiling throughout, for whatever reason that smile appears on your face in the first place, is most definitely worthy of your listening attention. In one sense, what Van Canto do is bordering on the ridiculous but because they do it so well, it actually becomes infectiously engaging. 'Tribe of Force' is predominantly comprised of original compositions although a couple of covers are thrown in for good measure too - Gravedigger's 'Rebellion' (featuring guest vocals from Grave Digger main man himself, Chris Boltendahl ) and Metallica's 'Master of Puppets'. In fact, it was a cappella versions of well known metal tracks like 'Battery' and Nightwish's 'Wishmaster' that earned Van Canto recognition within the scene in the first place, albeit initially from those who were curious and intrigued (myself included) as to how guitar riffs and solos would translate to vocal form. Take 'Master of Puppets' as an example - riffs are replaced with the likes of "runna-dunna-d-dunna-d-dunna-d-dunna...din-d-din-d-din...". I mean, who hasn't sat there after a few beers and 'sung' riffs in such a manner to their favourite metal tunes? You haven't? Oh, okay, maybe that's just me, but Van Canto have turned it into an art form. Yes indeedy boys and girls, there is no denying that. Mad, unintentionally humorous, or simply innovative metal it what you will, but no-one can deny the musical tenacity, talent and sheer conviction in what they do. Occasionally, you might forget the a capella aspect as bass and guitar sounds are replicated through human voice surprisingly well. However, at other times, it does just sound like a bunch of people going "dum-de-de-de-dum-de-de-de...", and there lies the album's source of unintentional comedy. Apocalyptica have experienced huge success from playing metal on cellos, so perhaps it's now time for Van Canto to rise with their neo-metal approach. Time will tell. This receives a respectable score from me for the sheer entertainment value - it's smile-inducing essence and the utter madness at even attempting to create a cappella based metal in the first place.
Napalm Records
Review by Mark Holmes
1st March 2010
1) Lost Forever
2) To Sing a Metal Song
3) One To Ten
4) I Am Human
5) My Voice
6) Rebellion
7) Last Night of the Kings
8) Tribe of Force
9) Water Fire Heaven Earth
10) Master of Puppets
11) Magic Taborea
12) Hearted; 13) Frodo's Dream
"Mad, unintentionally humorous, or simply innovative metal it what you will, but no-one can deny the musical tenacity, talent and sheer conviction in what they do."