May 30, 2012

Music Review: Nitro - O.F.R.

Nitro's O.F.R. Has to be one of the craziest metal release I heard in the late 80's. Granted, most of the stuff I was listening to at the time was hair metal, I had yet to really make the jump to truly heavy stuff. Anyway, there is something about this album that I really like. There was a time when I would sit and listen in awe to this. It really jus blew me away. These days I recognize it more for what it is rather than what I nought it was twenty some odd years ago. I still like it and certainly get a kick out of it, but the perspective is different.

Nitro's claim to fame was they did everything in a higher pitch and faster than anyone else. The band was led by vocalist Jim Gillette and guitarist Michael Angelo Batio. Gillette had a vocal range that went so high that it would literally break glass, or so the legend goes, and Batio is fast, technical, and somewhat classically influenced. This pair, along with bassist TJ Racer and drummer Bobby Rock, delivered this gloriously over the top album.

The record was released way back in 1989 and I remember listening to it in awe. The vocals were all over the place, perhaps a touch nasally and and to understand but the entire range was covered, it was like listening to the male metal version of Mariah Carey. The guitars were sweeping and oh so very fast. Everything was taken to the extreme and the younger me loved it.

I was taking guitar lessons at the time ( they didn't stick) and I remember mentioning them to my teacher, classically trained and in a successful local death metal act. He scoffed at Batio's work on the album, he said he was all speed and no rhythm. I cannot say I heard it then, but I do know. I am not going to say he is a bad player by any stretch, but the stuff on this is all about speed and nothing else. There is no real beauty beyond he speed. You can play classically inspired sweeping arpeggios and such all you like, but it doesn't make you Yngwie Malmsteen.

Jim Gillette is the other it piece of the puzzle and while he does not possess the greatest voice, his range is certainly impressive. He really can hit those high notes, and not only that, he can hold them too. You need look no further than his opening yowl for "Machine Gun Eddie."

I have to tell you, OFR is a trashy metal album. It is glam to the extreme (just check out their hair!), all show and very little substance. It is still a lot of fun of listen to even if I am not nearly as impressed with it as I once was. It does begin to lose steam in the second half, with the two releases singles being the strongest of the bunch, those being "Freight Train" and "Long Way from Home."

The record has been out of print for some time, but it is available as an MP3 download. It is worth it for the curiosity. I mean, it is kind of catchy and here are some good riffs.

Recommended.... Sort of.

"Freight Train"

"Long way from Home"


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