Stuff I Like: Van Canto

Boy, does this ever fall firmly into the “why the hell didn’t I think of that?” file. Many, many moons ago I was a young voice major with two obsessions, early polyphonic a capella and theatrical metal. It never once occurred to me to combine the two into something epic.

Van Canto is a German a capella metal group.  You heard me correctly, they regularly commit acts of epic rocking without the benefit of instruments except a drum set and five voices. But oh, what voices! And what they can do with them.  Leads are split between male and female vocalists accompanied by two vocal “guitars” and one “bass”. They are so convincing that it’s hard to believe there are no actual stringed instruments involved. Anyone who has a background in a capella of any stripe knows what an exacting art it is, the challenges involved in keeping everyone in key without an instrument to tune to; to do it with music this technically challenging (and, love it or hate it, power/symphonic metal is one of the most technically challenging genres out there) is nothing short of amazing.

They divide their efforts between covers of metal classics and original compositions, with a focus on music with heroic themes. So this is not music for your favorite nihilist, but if you enjoy both a good riff and amazing vocal technique, you really need to give these guys a try.

WATCH: Van Canto saving the world through the power of a capella.

And one more that seemed appropriate to commemorate my 20th anniversary (yes, today) as a member of the armed forces.

If I die in Battle,
find dark blood upon my steel.
If I die in Battle,
tell them I stood, and never kneeled.
If I die in Battle,
my soul will be saved and gone.
I won’t die in Battle.
I’ll fly north with six winds blowing as one.

4 thoughts on “Stuff I Like: Van Canto

    1. While I won’t argue that their sound is “mainstream”, (not that that’s an inherently a bad thing) they aren’t well known is the US at all, and one of the things I’d like to do in these snippets is introduce folks to some of the music coming out of Europe that they aren’t hearing. And it’s definitely easier to introduce folks to new stuff gently, rather than diving into the deep end. Besides, it’s the use of a capella that makes them unique in the genre and the reason I love them, having studied early music for a number of years and sung in several a capella chamber groups.

      As far as the military and metal, they tend to go together like ham and cheese. We like our music loud, our beats driving and out lyrics, well, kinda cheesy, but inspiring.


  1. Thanks for the introduction. As a fan of all kinds of music, it’s always a treat to come across what seems to be moving towards a new fusion. But then long ago there was:

    I love this because of how it subverts the well known version by The Grateful Dead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing! Love hearing new (to me) stuff. I lived in Germany for three years and was always fascinated by the way they would subvert older American pop into something completely different. Not always to my taste, especially given their predilection for electronica during those years, but often interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

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