Friday, June 08, 2012

Forgotten Gems: Nitro-Lethal + II


No, not that "Nitro". Let's just make that perfectly clear. Long before Hollywood, California's larger then life (or at least their hair was) glam metal band Nitro made us all want to puke with their "O.F.R." album (or at least made me want to puke my guts out) there was another U.S. heavy metal band that had used the name. The original Nitro was formed 1980 and hailed from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. According to the Metal Archives in 1982 the band (guitarist John Hazel, bassist Brad Gensimore, drummer Tim Wilson and vocalist Dana Confer) were able to record a 10" mini album thanks to financial backing from drummer Tim Wilson's father Fred Wilson. The original 10" mini album featured 5-tracks and, unlike their glam counterparts from Hollyweird (er, Hollywood), this Nitro was obviously influenced by both American hard rock and the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. I pulled this next bit off of Amazon where it is originally credited to Paul Suter, KERRANG! March 10-13, 1982 (I cannot vouch for it's authenticity, but if it is accurate then it is interesting information). In regards to Nitro (who were also penning their own material at this time) Paul Suter says "They cite influences from the likes of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and Ozzy Osbourne, and their live set includes numbers from AC/DC and Van Halen". Considering those two factors it is no wonder that "Lethal" packs quite a bit into such a short amount of songs. "Breakin' Out" opens up the album and from the moment the band asks "DO YOU WANNA ROCK!?" you know this is going to be one of those no-frill rock meets metal albums where the bottom line is simply to play high energy heavy metal. The EP is filled with pounding drums, catchy riffs, killer lead work and a lead singer that knows how to sound "metal" without turning into a caricature. Despite being from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania the band definitely sounded more foreign then most U.S. metal bands of the time. Whether it was their nods to English acts like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest or their appreciation for the Australian rock of AC/DC the band's material seemed to be all things to all fans. One can't help but wonder why record labels failed to take notice of this promising young band when track after track of "Lethal" is well, quite lethal. Well, one record label did dad noticed at least somewhat. "Lethal" was originally released on Red Dog in 1982 (which was more than likely the band's own label) before it was subsequently picked up 1984 for European distribution by the Belgian label Mausoleum. When the EP was reissued in 1984 two new tracks, "Nothin' To Miss" and "When The Lights Go Out", were tacked on so it could be released in the usual 12" format. Hence "Lethal + II" was born and that is where I found out about this band. Honestly I don't remember what drove me to them although I suspect I had been looking at the other Nitro for line-up info (a girl I went to high school with supposedly dated and/or married a guitarist who played in the glam Nitro-not an original member though if memory serves me correct) when I came across this little treat. Words alone cannot begin to sum up my praise for this high decibel eighties heavy metal releases. Just imagine finding a hidden gem like this and discovering how an album that was this much fun, catchy and simply killer was right in plain view! Thankfully this album is sitting in my CD player as I type so I can enjoy pure hard rock/heavy metal without any of the ego or hangups of certain "other" bands of the same era. It certainly seems as if the band should have made more headway considering the time frame and just how talented they were, but the band disappeared after this one lone record and that is criminal. You can still find the vinyl floating around while you can download the MP3s off of Amazon (where you can also buy a burned CDR copy which is what I have) and I believe Itunes also offers it. This is another release that I would love to see get a proper re-issue with pictures, history, lyrics, etc.

After posting this review Nitro band member Tim contacted me to with a few minor corrections: "Lethal + II" was basically Mausoleum's version of our independent release "Lethal", but with two new songs, "WhenThe Lights Go Out" and "Deadline". They initially wanted to just release "Lethal", but we insisted on putting more songs on so that our fans would get a better value for the $. We were recording a follow up to "Lethal" (the working title was "Volatile Activity") when they came calling, and those were two songs in the can at the time.

He also wanted to pass along a Facebook page set up for Nitro:

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Blogger Metal Mark said...

Wait, you mean this Nitro's singer isn't trying to break glass with his voice and the guitarist only has one neck on his guitar? I also bet these guys weren't the ear pollution creating freak show that the other Nitro were either.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

No, this is not crap metal 101 we are tlking about. This Nitro filtered evrything from Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath to Alice Cooper, Kiss and AC/DC through their music. While the Hollyweird Nitro did their best to make me ashamed to be a metal fan this Nitro make me proud to be a metal fan.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous scott whitt said...

I saw the OFR Nitro when they toured for their first album. It was like listening to 4 guys solo at the same time. Gillette did get to sleep with Lita Ford for a decade so I guess it evens out.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gents, Nitro drummer Tim Wilson here. Thanks for the fun comments. I'll share them with the rest of the band. Lethal 30th Anniversary Edition is on iTunes, so rally the troops and go get it. Nitro is on Facebook if you're interested. Keep your eyes and ears out for something from us in 2012. You'll not be disappointed. Keep the faith!

11:02 AM  

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