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Lost 80's Metal Gems (and some shitty Nitro songs) - 30%

DawnoftheShred, March 16th, 2009

The short career of Nitro was embarrassing enough that I’d figure it merciful to let their music disappear into the ether. Some, however, must have held a soft spot for them in their hearts, as they compiled a rarities release consisting of demos, unreleased tracks, and a few songs from guitarist Michael Angelo Batio’s solo band. The album really doesn’t need a review (if you like Nitro, get it. If not, happily ignore it), but nobody else has written one, so why not elaborate on the obvious a little bit?

Firstly we have the Nitro demos. Tracks 1, 2, 3 & 8 are early versions of songs that would end up on their debut album. The arrangements are virtually the same, but the production on these demos is remarkably better than the production of the album to follow it. The vocals and guitar solos aren’t overloud, you can hear the bass, there isn’t an overabundance of stupid gimmicky effects, and the drums sound better too. They’re still the same shitty songs from O.F.R. with the same shitty vocal performance from Jim Gillette, but these versions are clearly better. Next up is the unreleased Nitro tunes, at tracks 4, 9 & 10. “Prisoner of Paradise” is actually well above Nitro’s average fare, but then there’s the “lost” ballad “Heaven’s Just a Heartbeat Away” that kind of counteracts that first one, even if it is one of the only Nitro songs to have a MAB solo that isn’t complete, self-indulgent shit. Than the title track, which is a horribly annoying glam anthem with another decent guitar solo. Nothing really special out of these tracks, though they are also much better sounding than anything on O.F.R.

Finally there’s the lost Michael Angelo Band tracks at 5, 6 & 7. These songs, besides obviously featuring MAB on guitar, have a completely different lineup and are thus the cream of the album’s crop. Michael Cordet is the vocalist on this one and he blows Gillette out of the water (he sounds like a mix between your average glam singer and Axl Rose, which works pretty well on here). The music on these three tracks is more in the vein of your more respectable 80’s hair metal acts, like Dokken and Ratt, and even Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force circa Trilogy/Odyssey at times. Not only are these songs legitimately good, they feature MAB solos that fucking matter. Here he plays with a sense of purpose and actually writes solos that aren’t merely technical, but memorable. The quality of this material sort of reinforces the rumor that Nitro were a joke band and by placing these tracks in the middle of a Nitro sandwich, the second set of Nitro tracks looks even weaker by comparison.

I gave it a 30 because I think Nitro sucks: the fact that it gets any points at all is due to the awesome Michael Angelo Band songs. Why they never got to put out a full album and Nitro got two is a total mystery. But fans might find value in this collection of unreleasables regardless. In fact, those that really enjoy quality 80's hair metal might want to look into it as well, as the MAB songs may justify the Nitro dreck.