Saturday, August 03, 2013

Nitro-Lethal Dose

Skol Records

The long wait for Nitro fans is finally over! After some 29 years, during which time fans, friends and family of Pennsylvania's Nitro never gave up hope, 1984's "Lethal + II" LP is FINALLY getting a proper CD release! All I can say is that it's about time! When I first covered Pennsylvania' traditional heavy metal act Nitro back in early June of 2012, which was part of my "Forgotten Gems" series in which I covered their excellent "Lethal + II" LP,  I mentioned that "This is another release that I would love to see get a proper re-issue with pictures, history, lyrics, etc.". At the time I honestly can say that I had no idea just how self-prophesying those words would be! Here it is 2013 and yes, after all these years, the good folks at Skol Records are re-releasing "Lethal + II" in grand fashion! Before we get to all of that though let's rewind a bit. When the band originally released a 10" EP titled "Lethal" in 1982 (thanks to financial backing from drummer Tim Wilson's father) they began a long journey that would first lead them  to a deal with Mausoleum Records, who would end up re-releasing "Lethal" in 1984 as "Lethal + II" (so titled because of the addition of 2 bonus tracks), then to the release of their first new music in years (the 2013 single "Uranium" which is not a part of this collection, but can be found on iTunes, etc,) and then finally to this well-deserved deal with Skol Records. As I've already covered "Lethal + II" in great detail (which you can read in the link below) I'll just say that this anthology CD is worth buying just for those 7 original tracks. As I have both the original LP of "Lethal + II" and the (rather plain and skimpy) CDR re-release of "Lethal + II" I can honestly say that this new CD version, in no small part thanks to the excellent re-master job from Bart Gabriel (owner of Skol Records), is the best of the bunch. This is how I always imagine that "Lethal + II" would sound. Everything is crystal clear and the band's straight-up traditional heavy metal sound just rolls out of the speakers like it owns the world. So yes, I would suggest this limited-edition re-release just for the updated sound of their original material. Here's the thing though. Not only does the "Lethal Dose" CD include all 7-tracks from the original 10" and 12", but it also comes with 9 previously unreleased studio tracks that were originally recorded by Nitro back in the 80s! As these additional 9 tracks were early outtakes/demos they are not as smooth or as polished as the material on "Lethal" or "Lethal + II". In fact they were not finished so these demos and outtakes, which do have a overall rougher quality about, are mostly suited for die hard fans of Nitro. In some instances you can actually hear lead vocalist Dana Confer yell out "one take" as the group works their way through cuts that were slated to appear on the follow-up to "Lethal"/"Lethal + II". If these cuts are to be believed then Nitro's next album, which had the working title of "Volatile Activity", would have been more in tune with the music of the day. While Nitro always strove to rock out their way and their way only, which, at least on the "Lethal" releases, meant hard and heavy metal (early on band's sound seemed to draw from the likes of AC/DC, Riot, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, solo Ozzy, Kiss and more along that line of thought), some of this material sounds kind of toned down. Moving beyond the obvious implications that come from these tracks being unfinished and/or outtakes, which means it's a bit hard to get a grasp on the full direction that this group was headed, it does seem as if their next album might have been slightly more "mainstream" in nature. In essence it's more, shall we say, in keeping in touch with the likes of Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Whitesnake, Europe (before the release of that God-awful "The Final Countdown"), Ratt, Alcatrazz, and other similar rock-based/hair-teased bands. That being said it's not all like that, as there are a couple of heavy metal neck snappers hidden amongst these bonus cuts, and it's not like Nitro was suddenly going to be dressing or playing the part of some Hollywood hair metal band. No, Nitro was still Nitro just as they are still Nitro today. Even more so some of the bonus cuts that do suggest a more melodic outlook are quite good and come packed with a lot of promise. There's little sense in covering all nine of these cuts so I'll just say that among these bonus cuts I particularly liked the heavy rocker "Saddle Sore" while my least favorite was "All For Love". That's just my two cents and other people might walk away with a different take on these tracks. That's fine. In the end "Lethal Dose" is still a must-have for not only fans of Nitro, but also fans of  80's hard rock and heavy metal in general. With it's nice packaging this is one re-release that I highly recommend! With a sweet booklet that features not only a brief history of the band, but also comes with lyrics and pictures this is the ultimate way to hear the original and real Nitro! Be aware that this CD is a limited-run though. There are only 500 copies so don't sleep on this anthology as it's simply too good to pass up folks. To pick up your own copy of this excellent compilation be sure to head over to Skol Records and you can find out more about Nitro at the group's Facebook page (both links below).

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