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Published:September 2nd, 2007 03:23 EST
The Return of Peter Wichers

The Return of Peter Wichers

By Mark Palangio

To celebrate its 20 year anniversary, Nuclear Blast has put together a two-disc album entitled Out Of The Dark. The first disc has 10 original songs which were all written and produced by ex-Soilwork guitarist Peter Wichers with each song featuring a different vocalist from various other Nuclear Blast bands. This gives the album a good bit of variety and keeps it interesting throughout. Henry Ranta and Dirk Verbeuren, both of Soilwork fame, handle all the drumming duties and both do a killer job. I usually don’t like to do song by song breakdowns, but I think it’s the best way to review an album in this case.

“Dysfunctional Hours" featuring Anders Friden (In Flames) -- 
This song just reminds me of what newer In Flames material could potentially, and should, sound like. Anders doesn’t use those horrible, whiny vocals that he’s recently started doing on the past few In Flames albums. Instead he uses more of a clean-screaming style. He sounds pretty different on this song, actually. It’s not really what people are used to hearing from him, but you can still tell it’s his voice. Very catchy chorus and some nice heavy riffs with some cool melodies in the background throughout this song. 8.5/10

“Schizo" featuring Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy)
-- Tagtgren’s classic vocals combined with the extremely melodic middle section of this song make it one of the best on the album. Immediately upon hearing the harmony section at 2:10, I thought of A Predator’s Portrait, era Soilwork, which is a great thing. Right after that we get to hear the first guitar solo on the album, and it’s definitely got that classic Peter Wichers feel to it. 9.5/10

“Devotion" featuring Jari Mäenpäa (Wintersun) -- Now this is a song that I never thought I would hear Peter Wichers write. It’s got a definite black metal feel with the fast riffs, blasting drumming and eerie synth sections. Jari’s vocals are outstanding here, ranging from chaotic screams to layered clean singing to whispered spoken word passages-- just a really fast and intense song. The riff at 1:06 is easily one of the best on the album. No solos on this one, but the riffing more than makes up for it. 9.5/10

“The Overshadowing" featuring Christian Alvestam (Scar Symmetry) --
The best song on the album, hands down. The fact that Christian is from a band that has a very heavy Soilwork influence is one reason I think this song is so well put together. Of all the vocalists today who do the harsh-to-clean vocal transitions, Alvestam does it better than anyone else I’ve heard. His growls are really guttural and low, which really compliments his majestic and powerful clean singing. This song also features the best and longest solo on the album. You’ll hear all the classic Wichers nuances in this one. 10/10

“Paper Trail" featuring John Bush (ex-Anthrax) -- This is another song I would never have expected Wichers to write. This one is a slower, groove-oriented, hard-rock song, almost in the style of Spiritual Beggars. The fact that Wichers plays in a very low tuning gives the riffs a really sludgy and dirty feel. Bush’s cleaner vocals fit the song really well and this song gives the album a nice break from the mostly melodic death-metal style. I found it interesting that the solo in this song features a lick from the Young Guitar DVD that Wichers was featured on back in 2004. Only diehard fans will even know what I’m talking about here-- pretty neat thing to do though. 8.5/10

“The Dawn Of It All" featuring Bjorn “Speed" Strid (Soilwork) -- I was incredibly excited to hear this song considering this is the first time Bjorn and Peter have written anything since Peter left Soilwork. I was really hoping it would be something in the vein of The Chainheart Machine or A Predator’s Portrait, but it’s more like their more recent material. The intro does start off with that signature harmonized octave chord riffing that they loved to use, which is very cool. After that, the song goes into a slower, clean verse with a really catchy chorus. Speed’s vocals are great as always here. No solo for this song, but there’s a very catchy melody near the end of the song. This song could have been better, but it’s still very solid. It would fit in perfectly on Figure Number Five or Stabbing the Drama. 8/10

“Cold Is My Vengeance" featuring Maurizio Iacono (Kataklysm) -- At first I didn’t really care much for this song, but after a few listens, it’s grown on me a bit. The riffs here are very heavy and have a bit of a technical death-metal feel to them. Lots of double bass drumming and blast beats as well. This is probably the heaviest song on the album, but nothing really memorable. No leads or solos and the song feels shorter than it is. There are a few riffs that are just brutally heavy with a ton of groove though. 7.5/10

“My Name Is Fate" featuring Mark Osegueda (Death Angel)
-- This is another song I didn’t care for much at first, and I still feel that way. It’s not a bad song by any means, but I just think it’s the weakest song on the album. I do like the melody line during the verse riff, but that’s really all that stands out in this song. It’s just pretty boring overall. I’m not super familiar with Death Angel, but I just think the vocals here are very stock. 5.5/10

“The Gilded Dagger" featuring Richard Sjunnesson & Roland Johansson (Sonic Syndicate) -- Sonic Syndicate is one of the only metalcore bands I can actually stand to listen to, simply because of their vocals. Their harsh vocals aren’t really anything special, but the way they use their clean singing is what I really love. The riffs in this song are typical metalcore/staccato stuff, which I found  disappointing. The chorus makes up for it a bit though, with the soaring clean vocals. The song picks up a bit near the end, but it does drag on a bit at times. If there had been a solo in here to break up the boring verse riffs, it would have received a higher score. 7/10

“Closer To the Edge" featuring Guillaume Bideau (Mnemic) -- I’m not a huge fan of Mnemic, but this is an excellent song. It’s in that same Fear Factory meets Soilwork style that Mnemic plays, only it’s written better than anything they’ve ever done. The intro riff is hands down my favorite riff on the entire album. It has one of the biggest grooves I’ve ever heard, just so catchy and easy to bang your head along with. I was very pleased to hear this riff is also used as the chorus riff, and it’s only made better with the addition of Guillaume Bideau’s clean vocals. He’ has a killer voice, and he really shows it off here. There are a few sections where he does some layered screaming/singing and it really sounds great. It’s hard to say that one riff can make a song, but in this case it really does. 9.5/10

There is a second CD included with this album, but it’s all just old songs from various other Nuclear Blast bands. The real reason to buy this album is definitely the first disc. I really wish there were more guitar solos on here, because Peter Wichers is an incredibly unique lead guitarist; but, regardless, it’s still a very good album. If you’re a Wichers fan, you’re definitely going to want to pick up this album. For everyone else, I’d still suggest checking it out. It’s a unique album and has enough variety that everyone should be able to find something they like.