“Nuclear Blast 20th Anniversary: Into the Light” by Nuclear Blast All-Stars

Artist: Nuclear Blast All-Stars
Title: “Nuclear Blast 20th Anniversary: Into The Light”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 6/19/2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

Leave it to Nuclear Blast Records to start off their 20th Anniversary Celebration with a bang like no other and release a thundering CD of music featuring some of their best talent under the Nom de guerre of “Nuclear Blast All-Stars”. All of the music on the album was the result of Metal Mastermind Victor Smolski, that guitar virtuoso from the one and only Rage and with the exception of one track, all lyrics have been penned by Peter Wagner who sings and plays bass in that same band. If this fact didn’t pique your interest then perhaps knowing that all of the tunes feature different singers will do the trick. The CD features rotating vocalists who either are currently part of the labels roster or were at one time in their career. So as a result we find everyone from Tobias Sammet (Ed Guy) to Tarja Tarunen (Nightwish) contributing vocals and it continues to get interesting as you listen to each song. Rather than find this as another Rage album given its creators, the songs seem to have been tailored to the specific vocalist so the song that Tobias sings “On Dirty Wings” could have very well been an Ed Guy contribution. This continues along when it gets to what Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica sings as it really comes across as something new by that band and while Kakko himself says he does not feel this way in the liner notes, I will have to disagree with him. Such is the ability of Smolski to craft interesting Metal that he seems to have approached this with relative ease. It’s a great listen as each offering brings to the table different levels of solid riffing and interesting vocals. It’s heavy all around and should be since this is a Metal celebration but some artists come up the heavier than the others such as when Marcel from Destruction performs, and also Wagner from Rage who gets his own tune. It was great to find Andi Deris from Helloween present and also the members of Nightwish but I admit that while I love Tarja’s voice her song didn’t do anything for me. There is also some vocal talent who many of the Metal legions should be following more and I am speaking of Mats Leven formerly of Therion and Oddleif Stensland of Communic. These two continually impress me and I am looking forward to their future contributions. The drumming on most of the album comes care of Andre Hilgers who is also a member of Rage. Victor, Peavey, Andre and everyone else you did a great job on this one.

The release also serves as a reminder of just how powerful the labels artist roster is and not only does it come from these new Smolski compositions but also from the music featured on the included bonus CD. There is some great stuff here and many of the songs have never been released before. Pay particular attention to new label signings such as After Forever and Threshold for they are set to explode with their latest albums. From beginning to end this rocks and is a fine way to start the celebration of the label’s launch. I have enjoyed so much of their output over the last couple of years and many of their bands have become personal favorites. It is based on this that I raise the high hails to the next decade to come.

Bonus CD: Hammerfall – Hearts On Fire, Helloween – The Madness Of The Crowds, Gotthard – El Traidor, After Forever – Sweet Enclosure, Ride The Sky – New Protection, Thunderstone – Forevermore, Threshold – Slipstream, Amorphis – The Smoke, Candlemass – Devil Seed, Sirenia – The Other Side.

Track Listing:
1. Dirty Wings (Tobias Sammet)
2. Terrified (Peter Wagner)
3. Ruling The World (Tony Kakko)
4. Death Is Alive (Mats Leven)
5. Bloodsucker (Marcel Schirmer)
6. Slaves To The Desert (Hansi Kursch)
7. A Perfect Day (Andi Deris)
8. Eternally (Oddleif Stensland)
9. Inner Sanctuary (Marco Hietala)
10. In The Picture (Tarja Turunen)

Official Website: www.nuclearblastusa.com
Official Website: www.victorsmolski.de

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