It consists of five singers, a female singer and a drummer. Rhythm and solo guitars, bass and keyboards are imitated by the singers' voices.
In an interview, the band's name was explained as follows: Canto comes from the Latin cantare, meaning I sing. This has been used because it sounds better and is reminiscent of the Hard rock band Van Halen.
The band was founded by Stefan Schmidt in 2006, initially as a pure studio project. He knew his bandmates from joint performances of his previous band Jester's Funeral. In December 2006 the first self-produced album, "A Storm to Come", was released under the General Schallplatten label. It contains seven original works as well as a cover version of Metallica's
"Battery" from their album Master of Puppets and Stora Rövardansen from the film Ronja the Robber's Daughter. A video was shot for each of the tracks "The Mission" and "Battery". In 2007 the band played at Bochum Total, RockHarz Festival, Dong Open Air, Steel Meets Steel, and on December 29th together with Nightwish at On a Dark Winter's Night.
In 2007 the band signed to GUN Records/Sony BMG. "A Storm to Come" was subsequently re-released in December 2007. Dennis Strillinger was replaced by Bastian Emig (In Legend). In 2008 the band toured Brazil and performed at numerous German metal festivals, including the Wacken Open Air. In addition, a second album called "Hero" was produced with Charlie Bauerfeind at Blind Guardian's Twilight Hall Studios, which was released in September 2008.
Blind Guardian's Hansi Kürsch had a guest appearance on the song "Take to the Sky" written by Van Canto. The album also features a cover of Blind Guardian's The Bard's Song (In the Forest) in addition to covers of Nightwish, Manowar, Iron Maiden and Deep Purple, showing the bands' stylistic closeness. The videos for "Speed of Light" and the Nightwish cover "Wishmaster" were released in 2008. From autumn 2008 to July 2009 the band toured Germany, Switzerland and Austria as part of the Heroes on Tour.
On August 19, 2009, bandleader Stefan Schmidt announced on the Metalcon fan portal that Van Canto would once again be working on their third studio album at Blind Guardian's Twilight Hall studios, directed by Charlie Bauerfeind. It was also announced that after the closure of GUN Records they would switch to the Napalm Records label, which would release the new album Tribe of Force on February 26, 2010 at the same time as the first two releases "Hero" and "A Storm to Come" worldwide.
In January 2010, shortly before the release of their third album, the band was seen live on TV at the Quatsch Comedy Winter Show on ProSieben. A medley was played at this performance. In addition to their own song "The Mission" and part of "Speed of Light" as solo accompaniment, the medley covered the titles Frozen by Madonna, "Black Winter Day" by Amorphis and "Don't Fear The Winter" by Rage.
On February 26, 2010 the third album Tribe of Force was officially released. In addition to 11 original songs, it contains covers of Grave Digger's Rebellion (from their album Tunes of War) and Metallica's Master of Puppets (from their album of the same name). Guest appearances include Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) and Victor Smolski (Rage), the latter in a duel between sung and played lead guitar. The song Magic Taborea is the first van canto composition with orchestral accompaniment.
After its release, Tribe of Force entered the German album charts at number 83.
In March and April 2010 the band played in 13 German cities during the Tour of Force. The tour ended in front of 650 visitors in the sold-out Zeche Carl in Essen. After a few festival dates in the summer, such as a special guest at Grave Digger's headlining show at Wacken Open Air, the band went on tour with Blind Guardian in October 2010.
As of October 2010, the band is also featured in the game Runes of Magic with an accompanying video.
The second headliner tour entitled, We sing some metal songs, with Basti's side project In Legend and Orden Ogan as the supporting act, led Van Canto from October 2010 to January 2011, among other things, to Moscow and Switzerland. The tour was attended by more than 8000 spectators.
The fourth studio album Break the Silence was released on September 23, 2011 and entered the German album charts at number 23. In addition to 9 original songs, the CD contains 4 cover versions of Sabaton's "Primo Victoria", (from their album of the same name), Alice Cooper's "Bed of Nails", (from his album Trash), Manowar's "Master of the Wind" (from their album The Triumph of Steel) and Running Wild's "Bad to the Bone" (from their album Death or Glory).
With Betrayed (Runes of Magic) there is another piece with orchestral accompaniment on the album. The ballad "Spelled in Waters" is accompanied by Marcus Siepen (Blind Guardian) on the acoustic guitar. The album also includes the track "A Storm to Come" (featuring Helen Vogt from German Gothic metal band Flowing Tears) of the same name as the debut album. This is a foretaste of the transmedia project Peer Returns. Peer Returns is to be performed at Hamburg's Thalia Theater after a controversial plebiscite on the public choice of programs, in which Van Canto asked their fans to vote.
The release was followed by a European tour that took the band as headliners to Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Holland, Belgium and England.
The fifth studio album Dawn of the Brave was released on February 7, 2014. It was previously advertised with a promo video for the song "Badaboom". Comedian Bernhard Hoëcker can be seen again as a guest.
The album includes various covers "The Final Countdown" (from their album of the same name) by Europe, "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler from the soundtrack to the 1984 film Footloose, written by Jim Steinman & Dean Pitchford
and "Into the West" by Annie Lennox from the end-credit song of the 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and "Paranoid" (from their album of the same name) by Black Sabbath) again several own pieces.
The album Voices of Fire was released on March 11, 2016. It is an ambitious cross-media project in which a story was published in song and book form. For the first time, an album consists only of their own compositions.
"In the world of "Voices of Fire" evil is said to have long been defeated. But when something stirs in the sea, young Queen Elena seeks help to protect her people. Along the way, she meets the disaffected bard Aidan, whose voice could have magical powers - if he dared to use it. Together with their companions and unlikely allies, they go to battle against the fifth dragon, a being of darkness who awakens and wants to conquer the world".
The story of Elena and Aiden was set to music by Van Canto in 13 epic songs.
The children's choir of the Dortmund Choir Academy, the London Metro Voices and the actor John Rhys-Davies, known from "The Lord of the Rings trilogy", who provided a spoken introduction to the songs, also contributed. There was also a 10-man shout choir made up of members of the official fan club Rakka Takka e.V.
The literary version of the story is the book "Feuerstimme" by bestselling author Christoph Hardebusch.
An audio book was also produced for the book, spoken by Ferenc Husta (Wise Guys). Also produced was a special edition audio book called the Earbook, featuring eighteen a cappella ballads by Van Canto.
Following the album's release, Van Canto embarked on a European tour with Freedom Call and the Grailknights.
The band announced on August 14, 2017 that lead singer Sly had left Van Canto for personal reasons.
On August 18, 2017, the new singer Hagen "Hagel" Hirschmann was introduced with the release of the video for "Voice Number 7" and the production of the seventh album was announced.
The seventh studio album "Trust in Rust" was released on August 10, 2018 after a two-year break. It is the first album with the new singer Hagen Hirschmann. Ingo "Ike" Sterzinger also returns to Van Canto with this album.
Videos for the songs "Back In The Lead", "Melody" and "Neverland" were released before the album was released.
In September 2018 the band toured Europe to promote the album.
The name of the album is intended to indicate that after 12 years of band history, Van Canto now sees himself as experienced and self-confident.
The eighth studio album To the Power of Eight was released on June 4th, 2021. For To the Power of Eight Philip Dennis "Sly" Schunke has returned to the band as a guest vocalist and supports as third lead singer on all twelve songs of the album. This is also the reason for the title of the album.
Although the band lacks the distorted electric guitar as Heavy metal's most iconic instrument, Van Canto is considered a metal band because of the band's sound, arrangements, stage performance, and chosen cover versions.
Compositionally, the band moves in modern Power metal and can be compared to bands like Nightwish, Blind Guardian or Masterplan. Rhythm and solo guitars, bass and keyboard pads are imitated by the voices of the singers, who themselves describe this imitation as rakkatakka singing in their interviews.
The imitation of guitars and bass was created in earlier attempts with the help of a guitar amplifier, which was abandoned after the first album due to poor results in terms of feasibility in live concerts.
The effect of the Wah-wah pedal, on the other hand, was created purely with the mouth from the start.
The designation of Van Canto as an A cappella band is questionable, since not all rhythm instruments (drums and percussion) are imitated by voices. Despite this, the a cappella metal style remains the band's trademark.
The band themselves describe their style of music as "Hero Metal A Capella".
Inga Scharf – female lead vocals (2006–present)
Stefan Schmidt – lower guitar vocals, solo guitar vocals, vocals with distortion effects (2006–present)
Ross Thompson – higher guitar vocals (2006–present)
Ingo "Ike" Sterzinger – bass vocals (full time member: 2006–2015, studio and selected concerts: 2017–present)
Bastian Emig – drums (2007–present)
Jan Moritz – bass vocals (2015–present)
Hagen "Hagel" Hirschmann – male lead vocals (2017–present)
Dennis "Sly" Schunke – male lead vocals (2006–2017), guest lead vocals (2021)
Dennis Strillinger – drums (2006–2007)
Source: Translated from the German Wikipedia