Out of the Dark... Into the Light - Showcasing the world's most important metal label Nuclear Blast
Shades of Grey
In order to celebrate its twentieth anniversary, renowned German metal label Nuclear Blast asked Swedish bassist, guitarist and keyboarder Peter Wichers of Soilwork fame to write a record consisting of ten songs focusing on melodic death and thrash metal. Each track features a singer of a different band that was signed by the label back then. The final result obviously couldn't be a perfectly consistent affair and sounds like a compilation. While this release certainly has more ups than downs and deserves some attention, praise and recognition, it isn't as balanced, creative and profound as the simultaneously release Into the Light that focused on the label's gothic, heavy and power metal sounds.
Instead of developing a coherent sound, flow or concept, the songs on this album sound a lot like the bands of the different singers featured here. The concise, focused and melodic ''Schizo'' featuring Peter Tägtgren could easily be a solid candidate for a Hypocrisy single for instance.
The atmospheric, epic and powerful ''The Dawn of All'' featuring Björn Strid has a wonderful melancholic, melodic and modern touch that would actually foreshadow Soilwork's future releases.
''My Name is Fate'' featuring Death Angel's Mark Osegueda is one of the few tunes exploring thrash metal territories but with a modern sound that actually isn't too far away from the melodic death metal material that dominates this album. The song stands out but still manages to fit in. This underlines Peter Wichers songwriting skills best on this output.
''The Guilded Dagger'' features the two singers of Sonic Syndicate and is the best song in terms of combining sorrowful guitar melodies and mournful clean vocals on one side with powerful riffs and guttural screams on the other side.
Despite adopting the sounds of the bands of the featured singers, this album mostly succeeds because many of these bands sound quite similar in style. This only proves that most melodic death metal bands fail to push the boundaries. It's difficult to blame them however since the bands that tend to experiment regularly get criticized in disrespectful ways. As for Out of the Dark, it isn't as imaginative as Into the Light but should still satisfy genre fans. While the release doesn't include any stinkers, most tracks are of an average quality with only a few good tunes. The limited edition includes a second disc featuring ten rare and unreleased tracks of bands that were signed by Nuclear Blast back in the days. Collectors, fans and newcomers might actually discover more hidden gems on the second disc that really rates this output up than on the actual main release itself.
Final rating: 65%
More Light than Dark
In order to celebrate its twentieth anniversary, renowned German metal label Nuclear Blast asked Rage guitarist Victor Smolski to write a record consisting of ten songs focusing on power and heavy metal. Each track features a singer of a different band that was signed by the label back then. The final result obviously couldn't be a perfectly consistent affair and sounds like a compilation but this release certainly has more ups than downs and deserves some attention, praise and recognition.
The first highlight on this album is the mid-paced symphonic power metal epic ''Death Is Alive'' featuring a versatile Mats Levén on lead vocals and an often underrated Jen Majura on backing vocals.
''Slaves to the Desert'' features inspired oriental soundscapes and is crowned by Hansi Kürsch's soulful vocals that entertain throughout seven minutes.
''Eternally'' is the record's slow, progressive and moody tune. It features one of Oddleif Stensland's most inspired performances. The track might need some time to grow but has perhaps the biggest potential here thanks to its creative depth.
''Inner Sanctuary'' featuring Marco Hietala contrasts the previous song with energetic riffs and a simple but efficient chorus. The melodic and almost danceable guitar sounds are complemented by gothic rock inspired piano melodies. The song finds a surprising balance between gothic, heavy and power metal that represents the entire release very well. This would have been the perfect candidate for a single..
The record's longest tune ''In the Picture'' is the best song Nightwish has never written and offers a highly atmospheric conclusion to the record. The song takes two and a half minutes to build up an almost cinematic atmosphere with creative instrumental passages. Once these vibes have been established, Tarja Turunen can fully unfold her skillful vocals that sound much more diversified than usual.
Not every song on this release leaves a deeper impression but this album doesn't include any stinker. Half of the songs are good average tunes while the other half is very good. The mixture of gothic, heavy and power metal throughout the album sounds perfectly balanced. The album has overall solid flow that underlines Victor Smolski's remarkable songwriting talent. In hindsight, this release portrays very well what commercial melodic metal sounded like in the early years of the new millennium. If you haven't listened to this album yet, you might actually discover some hidden gems featuring some of your favourite musicians and singers. The special edition features a second disc with a balanced mixture of popular and rare tunes from some of Nuclear Blast's bands back in the days.
Final rating: 80%
Please note that the album titles ''Out of the Dark'' and ''Into the Light'' are inspired by this wonderful song by late Austrian singer and rapper Falco:« Hong yi xiao nu hai 2 / The Tag-Along 2 (2017) - Sinister memories and weird tiger spirits - 7/10 (22/03/20)Powerful Passion Podcast: First Episode »