Various Artists

Into the Light: 20 Years Nuclear Blast

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Into the Light was released in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Nuclear Blast, one of the world's preeminent heavy metal labels. The album is billed to the Nuclear Blast All Stars, though technically it's a collection of ten songs composed and recorded by Victor Smolski, the guitarist of Rage, with an all-star roster of contributing vocalists: Tobias Sammet (of Edguy), Peter "Peavy" Wagner (Rage), Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Mats Levén (Therion), Marcel "Schmier" Schirmer (Destruction), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Andi Deris (Helloween), Oddleif Stensland (Communic), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), and Tarja Turunen (Nightwish). The resulting music should be of particular interest to fans of Smolski, since this is largely his project. Given the occasion, the bonus disc seems more fitting, for it compiles ten songs -- half of them previously unreleased or rare -- by a selection of Nuclear Blast's top bands: Hammerfall, Helloween, Gotthard, After Forever, Ride the Sky, Thunderstone, Threshold, Amorphis, Candlemass, and Sirenia. Granted, some of the songs on this bonus disc are trivial (i.e., "El Traidor," which is the Spanish version of Gotthard's "Anytime, Anywhere"), yet as a whole they offer a more retrospective approach to the anniversary of Nuclear Blast than the Nuclear Blast All Stars songs, as well-intentioned as they may be.

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