Playing with novelties is a risky game, but German a cappella outfit Van Canto have hit the metal nail on the head, celebrating 10 years together with an album dedicated entirely to their own original material.
“It started as a joke among friends,” singer Stefan Schmidt tells us. “We wanted to have fun with power metal, but the more we recorded, the more we realised it’d be a cool idea to put our guitars away and try a cappella.”
Van Canto’s six members taught themselves how to strum their vocal cords in the name of metal for covers of Metallica’s Battery and Maiden’s Fear Of The Dark. Now sixth album Voices Of Fire plunges their own songwriting abilities into a realm of glorious battles.
“If you think about it, Metallica started out playing covers!” Stefan laughs. “But it felt natural to write this whole album ourselves. It would’ve made no sense as a concept if we relied on compositions made by somebody else. We know a big part of our success is in our covers, but we’ll save them for the next album.”
A showcase of their fantastical influences, the album’s guest vocals come from London film soundtrack choir Metro Voices and Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies, otherwise known as Lord Of The Rings’ Gimli.
“We wanted to bring in some extremely powerful voices, so John Rhys-Davies fits perfectly. We can’t believe he likes what we’re doing!”
At first, Van Canto were concerned they weren’t the pioneers of such an interesting twist on their favourite genre, but luckily they were disproved, and have enjoyed a decade to flourish in their own time.
“We’re happy to say that 10 years down the line, we’re still the only a cappella metal band!” says Stefan. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing. Maybe people think we’re doing it so well that they don’t want to try it, or they think it’s rubbish and steer clear of us.”
Van Canto’s future is set to be bright, as they’re learning that the a cappella approach opens more creative doors than it closes.
“We have that freak factor, we have a style not everybody likes, but we wouldn’t have tried it for 10 years if nobody cared. We’re living the dream – as long as we’re playing shows and people turn up to listen to us, we must be doing something right.”
Triumphant choral metal with no guitars whatsoever
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