Nuclear Blast Allstars - Into the light 3/5
1. Dirty wings
3. Ruling the world
4. Death is alive
6. Slaves to the desert
7. A perfect day
9. Inner sanctuary
10. In the picture
To celebrate their 20th anniversary, label Nuclear Blast decided to put together this "allstar" project, 'Into the light'. Basically, they got guitarist/musical mastermind Victor Smolski (Rage, ex-Mind Odyssey) to produce a CD full of mostly power metal tracks with various "allstar" vocalists on the Nuclear Blast roster. That this anniversary CD is predominantly power metal is pretty amusing to me since a 10th anniversary allstar CD for the label would have had a tough time finding even one power metal vocalist on their roster at the time. Still, this is an interesting idea, although I was unsure Smolski was the ideal songwriter for the task since I find his songwriting in Rage to be inconsistent at best. Still, his massive talents musically do make him ideal to produce some varied songs.
Focusing on the highlights of the CD first, we begin with Edguy's Tobias Sammet singing "Dirty wings". This song would fit in nicely on the more recent Edguy CDs (those I've heard anyway). It's a midtempo tune with catchy melodic riffs and Sammet provides a fine delivering with his vocals at the catchy chorus. Next we have Peavy Wagner of Rage doing "Terrified". Unsurprisingly, this sounds a lot like recent Rage, for better or worse. It's heavy and quick but a little light on melody for my tastes. This issue plauged 'Speak of the dead' as well. "Ruling the world" features Toni Kakko of Sonata Arctica and while it's a keyboardy power metal song, it doesn't sound a whole lot like Sonata Arctica, which makes for an interesting listen. In fact, it's hard to recognize Kakko before the catchy chorus due to some uncharacteristic gruffness in his vocals. It's an interesting (slight) divergence from his day job. "Death is alive" with Mats Leven (most recently of Therion) is one of the stronger songs on the CD. It's a slower, darker song, with majestic melodies very much in line with Therion's latest CD 'Gothic kabbalah'. Diverging from power metal briefly we have Destruction's Schmier doing "Bloodsuckers". I am impressed with how good a thrash riff Victor comes up with here, and this sounds great. "Inner sanctuary" has Marco Hietla (Nightwish/Tarot) and is pretty cool. It manages to sound like something that could be on a Nightwish or Tarot CD and features a very catchy classical/folkish melody. Listening to this makes me think that if Peavy ever wants (or has) to give up singing that Marco would be a fantastic replacement in Rage. Closing the CD we have "In the picture", which is actually a song from Mind Odyssey's 'Signs' CD and is greatly improved by the vocals of Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish). It's odd and sad that this may well be the last metal we hear Tarja sing.
There are a few other tracks I am less enamored with. "Slaves to the desert" is another Mind Odyssey track from 'Signs'. This time however the vocals are definitely not improved by Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian). I greatly prefer the original vocals by Mario Le Mole. "A perfect day" features Andi Deris of Helloween, who I find barely tolerable these days. "Eternally" features Oddleif Stensland of Communic. I have never heard Communic, but Oddleif is a perfectly decent singer, though this song is a bit slow and drags for me. It's still the best of my least favorite tracks.
And, there's your anniversary CD! It's solid and easy to recommend, without having anything essential on it. Victor does a pretty good job of tailoring the songwriting for the vocalist he's working with - most of the time. It does seem odd to have this anniversary CD with nary a death metal band in sight given Nuclear Blast's history, but there will also be a Nuclear Blast Allstars 'Out of the dark' CD soon, which will apparently be mostly death metal. I also find it odd that the label didn't have Hammerfall's Joacim Cans on this power metal oriented CD. Regardless of how you feel about Cans or Hammerfall, it is undeniable that if not for the crazy success of their 'Glory to the brave' CD, Nuclear Blast would have never signed so many power metal bands over the last decade.
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