Nuclear Blast Allstars - Out Of The Dark
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (40:54)
Release year: 2007
Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Celebrating twenty years of Nuclear Blast by gathering a range of vocalists from various bands on the label, this project was divided into two to reflect the varying tastes of the modern Metalhead: Into The Light for the Power Metallers, and Out Of The Dark for the Deathheads. In a way, the Power Metal project was always going to be more of a success – the boundaries in Power Metal, at least from the outside, are much less severe than in Death Metal, making it likelier that a wider variety of fans would enjoy the material. Using Peter Wichers, a former member of Soilwork, to oversee the heavier side of things limits the output somewhat…

Fortunately, though, he did a more than decent job. Yes, this is aimed rather at the catchier side of Death Metal, but it does it well. It works as follows: various guest vocalists sing on songs written by Wichers, who plays all guitars, bass and keyboards, with two drummers, Henry Ranta and Dirk Verbeuren, over the course of ten songs. You won’t hear anything revolutionary here, but those capable of appreciating well-written and appealing songs will be in heaven.

Dysfunctional Hours kicks things off with Anders Fridén of In Flames providing his melodic scream. It sounds much better than the recent output from his band, there being none of the Korny whining that nearly ruined In Flame’s name in the Metal world. Thrashy riffs intertwining with background melodies plus especially catchy chorus equals a winner!

Hypocrisy mainman Peter Tagtgren lends his yowl to Schizo, which sounds like a collision between early Soilwork and Hypocrisy’s lighter moments, and features an excellent solo by Wichers. It’s much catchier than Tagtgren’s main band, too.

Fans of Wintersun tired of waiting for more material from the band will be thrilled to hear Devotion, featuring Jari Mäenpäa. In a highly melodic Black Metal song, he mixes his harsh vocals and some near operatic layered clean vocals to create a speedy gallop that touches on several genres at once. It’s one of the best songs on show here, easily headbangable and keeping adrenaline levels at a high throughout - definitely a highlight of the project so far.

Christian Älvestam of Scar Symmetry guests on The Overshadowing, sounding spookily like Trivium’s Matt Heafy, especially the clean vocals. Creating a textbook example of heavy/light Modern Metal, the song is a definite grower, with another perfect solo from Wichers. Älvestam really puts his heart into the song, some very deep growls and uplifting clean vocals making this one of the best performances on the album.

Armored Saint’s John Bush makes an appearance on the groovy Rocker that is Paper Trail. He doesn’t attempt any growls, alas, but his powerful clean vocals fit right in, making the song sound most like something from one of his later albums with Anthrax, but better. Yet another great solo from Wichers puts the cherry on top of yet another great song.

The Dawn Of It All surprises by featuring Soilwork vocalist Björn "Speed" Strid in an especially mellow and melodic song. Most listeners will probably, sadly, hate this, but it proves that Speed has one hell of a voice, and although the music drowns his highest moments out a little, it’s still a wonderful song.

From the softest song to the heaviest: Cold Is My Vengeance, featuring Kataklysm growler Maurizio Iacono, kicks you in the teeth from the outset. Technical riffs groove and thrash furiously, whilst Dirk Verbeuren does an impressively speedy job on drums. A brutal breakdown will leave your neck in agony for hours, and there’s even a slight whiff of Proggyness about the whole thing, especially the melodic outro. Another highlight.

Death Angel frontman Mark Osegueda does his thing over a catchy melodic Thrash song that takes in elements of dirty Hard Rock as well. With some particularly cool lyrics (‘rivers dry and crack / oceans fill with oil / some of you will lose your limbs / like ripping trees from soil’) it makes for another more than decent song, although there’s a couple of moments when Osegueda’s screech feels a little out of place.

The Gilded Dagger features dual vocalists Richard Sjunnesson & Roland Johansson of Sonic Syndicate, and is one of only two really sub-par song on offer. Yes, Metalcore is an important part of the heavy side of music, but is there anyone older than sixteen out there who’s honestly not sick and tired of it? Wichers wrote a rather typical staccato-riffing song for the duo to sing/yowl over, and the end result sounds rather like Bullet For My Valentine. It’s good if you like that sort of thing, but otherwise…

Finally, Mnemic mainman Guillaume Bideau lends his vocals to Closer To The Edge. It sounds like Mnemic, frankly, the sub-Meshuggah groovy riffs very definitely a love-it-or-hate-it. The song lacks energy, in the end, and doesn’t really work as a ballad either. After the first listen I tended to skip these last two tracks.

The album comes with a bonus CD featuring current and rare tracks from other bands on the label. There are a few gems present, like Meshuggah’s acoustic version of Future Breed Machine that was previously only available on 1997’s The True Human Design EP, and Japan and US bonus tracks for Chimaira, Exodus and Dimmu Borgir, all of which are more than worth hearing. A personal surprise was Threat Signal’s song, which was much better than anything I’d heard from the band previously.

It’s certainly a nice package all-in-all, with professional artwork, and a booklet containing notes from the artists about the songs and how much they love Nuclear Blast. Could it have been better? Definitely, a few heavier songs and more ambition overall would have made it more attractive to a wider audience, but as an exploration of Melodic Death Metal in general it’s pretty good. If you’ve read this far, chances are there’d be something you enjoy.

Killing Songs :
Devotion, The Overshadowing, The Dawn Of All, Cold Is My Vengeance
Goat quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Nuclear Blast Allstars that we have reviewed:
Nuclear Blast Allstars - Into The Light reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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