Van Canto to the Power of 8 Review

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I haven’t done a music review for a while so I thought I would bring them back.

Introduction

I don’t really have much to say for an introduction for a change.
I found out this album was coming out about a week before it got released. It is by a band I have been listening to for about 10 years now. and everything else is said below.
So lets crack on.

Information

album: To The Power of Eight.
Artist: Van Canto.
Released: June 2021.
Label: Napalm Records.

Background

For those who don’t know Van canto are a some what unique band, they are an a cappella hero metal band.
If all of these words sound like they don’t go together you aren’t the first to say that.
The band is made up of mainly vocalists. They have a drummer thrown in for good measure.
It is a strange mix when you have just a drummer and the rest of the band a cappella, but they have managed 8 albums like this so it must be working in some capacity.
how ever To the power of eight is the first album to feature 3 lead vocalists.
Originally featuring just 2 lead vocalists, the male vocalist left and was replaced on album number 7 trust in rust. How ever he returned for this one and they kept his replacement as well.

Original songs

This album has 8 original songs and 4 covers. Because of this I kind of think of this album as being in to parts.
the first part is made up of 5 original songs, While the second part is 4 covers and 3 originals mixed in together.
For the sake of this article I am going to talk about the original tracks first and the covers second.
01: The Power of Eight.
The intro track to the album, this song has no lyrics. It is a soft build up song that is simple but gets you ready for what is to come. it is also 1 of just 2 songs that doesn’t have drums.
I find it an interesting choice to make the title track of the album an intro track.
02: Dead by the Night.
The first song on the album with lyrics this one hits hard. This track sees the 3 lead singers exchanging lines before coming together for the choruses.
This song also has a very early Van canto feel to it. Fans of their first 3 albums will probably quite enjoy this song.
As a fan of almost all of their albums I really enjoy this track.
03: Faith Focus Finish.
This song starts out a little slower and over all is a slightly softer song then dead by the night. But it also has a very stadium rock feel, with a big sing along style chorus.
The softer bridge and final build in to the last chorus is phenomenal on this track.
04: Falling down.
This song was the lead single from the album and in my opinion this was a good choice. It isn’t the best song on the album but it is an excellent middle ground track.
It is a nice fast song but most importantly shows off the fact the original vocalist has returned.
05: Heads up high.
This song didn’t really interest me the first time I heard it. But it has really grown on me.
A little more like a rock song then a metal song. It is a good song to be in the middle of the album.
07: Turn Back Time.
Right I will say it before anything else. I love this song. It is my favorite on the album and in my opinion it is so well done.
The only song other than the intro to have no drums. This is the a cappella metal version of an acoustic song.
It is soft but a stunning track.
Each of the 3 vocalist does their own verses before coming together perfectly for the choruses.
It is simple but brilliant.
09: Hard Rock Padlock.
The title of this song confuses me but some how makes perfect sense.
I don’t really have much to say about this one. It is a hard rock song and it is just a fun track.
11: From the End.
In my opinion this song should have been the last track on the album. It is such a fine closing song.
It really encapsulates the spirit of the album. It show cases the talent of the band, and it has a really good feel from start to finish.

Covers

Van Canto are some what known for covers. Most of their albums feature at least 1. They have covered bands including, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Nightwish, ACDC, Sabaton and several others.
This album is no exception and features 4 covers including another Iron maiden and another ACDC cover.
06: Raise your Horns, [Amon Amarth cover] Now this is a little unfair because Amon Amarth is one of my absolute favorite bands. So to have another band I really like covering them and doing so well is just not fair.
This is the heaviest song Van Canto has ever done and for people who don’t like growling vocals you will probably want to skip over this one.
for those who do like a bit of growling this song is perfect. They did a fantastic job of both capturing the original song, While putting the Van Canto spin on it.
08: Run to the Hills, [Iron Maiden cover] I refer to my comments about covering Amon Amarth being unfair. But to add to that Van Canto had already done a killer job of covering Fear of the Dark on their second album. Now 13 years on they are back with a new Maiden cover and they have done it again.
This song I admit I was concerned about. When I read the track list I wondered if they could pull this off. I shouldn’t have been concerned.
the iconic intro is done really well, while the rest of the song is a perfect mix of sounding like the original and having some Van Canto splashed all over it.
10: Thunder Struck, [ACDC cover] Honestly I don’t know what more to say then this was so fucking well done.
Van Canto covered Hells Bells on their last album and I wasn’t that impressed. They have more than made up for it here.
A great song done really well.
12: I want it All [Queen cover] Now when it comes to queen this is interesting. While I know the band Queen and could probably sing every lyric to at least a few Queen songs. I have never personally gone out of my way to listen to Queen. Nothing against them. Freddy Mercury was an amazing singer but they just aren’t really my thing.
So while I know the original of this song. It isn’t a Queen song I am overly familiar with.
However from what I remember Van Canto have done a very solid job covering this track.
And beyond it being a cover this is a good song. While I think track 11 could have been a really good ending to the album. I also understand why this became the final track.

Altogether

Do I enter this review with some bias? The answer is shit yes I do. This is one of my favorite bands. Reunited with the singer who they soarly missed on the last album, Releaseing some of the best music of there coureers covering some of my other all time favorite bands.
But the truth in my opinion this is a truly amazing album. While yes I can identify which songs I like better. Simply put there is nothing on this album I don’t enjoy.
From start to finish it is an experience that they have brought everything out for.
you will find songs similar to those which you would have heard from Van Canto 15 years ago and yet also songs that sound very different.
There is soft, heavy, fast, slow and everything in between.
The originals are well written and brilliantly performed. While the covers bring enough of the original to sound amazing while adding the Van canto touch which makes them stand out.
I can’t under state how much I enjoy this album and I am pretty certain it will be my top album of 2021.

Rating and final thoughts.

I really hope people reading this will give this album a listen. I hope even more that for some of you it will be your first experience with Van Canto. they have 7 other amazing albums. But this is fast tracking its way to becoming my favorite of them all.
When it comes to rating I could nit pick and try and take points off. But honestly for me I couldn’t ask for much more then what I got.
10 out of 10.

Links

If you want to check out the album on Spotify you can do that here.
Spotify link

If you would like a taste here are some of my favorite tracks.
Turn back Time.

Faith Vocus Finish.

Raise your horns, Amon Amarth cover.

Thunder Struck, ACDC cover.

Conclusion

Have you checked out this album or do you plan to? Let me know in the comments below or even on Twitter.


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