Playing Time: 56 Min Label: AFM Records Release 11th Feb 2016
Oh dear, time is running fast! Van Canto have been active already for 10 years. While many people smiled at the band in the beginning, it has become a well-respected act in the meantime. This might be due to the guest appearance of the band or some band members with other acts (check the latest Wacken live recording of Gravedigger’s ‘Rebellion’!). But it is also due to their own records, which normally contain both their own songs and cover versions.
In this aspect the new studio album is very different from its predecessors. It is the first album without any cover song. This is a result of the concept created by the band and the German author Christoph Hardebusch. You can call “Voices of Fire” a musical version of Christoph Hardebusch’ next novel, which will be released on 17th March 2016 and which is entitled – surprise! – “Feuerstimmen” (German for “Voices of Fire”). To intensify the character of a musical, the songs are separated by spoken word parts performed by John Rhys-Davis (actor of Gimli in “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy).
But let us talk about the only thing that counts for us: Music! The well-known trademarks – multilayer-vocal arrangements with supporting drums – did not change. The songs are well-done, they are catchy and you can sing them along. Especially ‘Clashing on Armour Plates’ and ‘Firevows’ are really great. Van Canto also tried to bring as much diversity into the stuff as possible – although it is quite difficult with this limited “instrumentation”. Therefore after some playing time, a lot sounds too similar.
Although Van Canto do a lot things right, “Voices of Fire” does not really convince me. In my opinion, the concept to replace (almost) all instruments by vocals, really ignites with cover versions (similar to Apocalyptica). But this concept does not really work with an album only containing new original songs. The problem is, as mentioned above: Too much sounds quite similar. Even the vocal “guitar solos” do not change that. But another problem is that only a few parts stick in your mind. Although every song sounds nice for itself, nothing remained in my mind after 5 or 6 listening cycles (except the 2 abovementioned songs).
To make it short and sweet: Those who like Van Canto can buy this one without hesitation. All the others should first check it out at spotify.