Sound — 8
Michael Angelo Batio has earned a strong reputation within the guitar playing community for his dynamic use of the fretboard and sweep picked arpeggios. Michael first introduced himself to the music world back in 1984 when he joined the heavy metal band Holland, which featured Tommy Holland of Steppenwolf on lead vocals. Holland released a sole studio album, "Little Monsters," which despite moderate commercial success within the States wasn't enough to keep Holland around for much longer. The group would disband soon after, and Michael Angelo Batio went on to momentarily focus on his own solo band. The Michael Angelo Band didn't release any studio albums, however three of their original songs would make a later appearance on a Nitro compilation release. Batio would soon go on to collaborate with glam metal vocalist Jim Gillette on a solo album, before the two would form the band Nitro alongside Vinnie Vincent Invasion bassist T.J. Racer and drummer Bobby Rock, similarly from Vinnie Vincent Invasion and later of Nelson and Slaughter. As momentarily bright as his previous efforts were, Michael Angelo Batio truly stood out on Nitro's debut studio album "O.F.R." The album's opening track "Freight Train" boasts some explosive arpeggios which even the most decorated guitarist would likely be unable to tackle, and mostly because of Michael's playing the song's accompanying music video earned heavy rotation on MTV. Nitro would go on to release a second studio album in 1991, "Nitro II: H.W.D.W.S.," which included a strong cover of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," before the band would eventually call it quits. This of course wasn't the last fans heard from Michael Angelo Batio. Since he left Nitro, Michael has most recently focused heavily on his solo career, and briefly worked with the band Organ Donor on their 2001 album "The Ultra Violent." Now Michael is making his return to the music scene with his new album "Intermezzo," which also shows Michael teaming up an impressive cast of well known and respected guitarists. "Intermezzo" is a strong collection of ten original songs from the hailed guitarist, all of which proudly feature Michael's expansive guitar playing. Songs such as "8 Pillars of Steel" hark back to Michael's earlier works, and also includes appearances by Michael Schenker bassist Elliott "Dean" Rubinson, George Lynch of Dokken fame, guitarist Dave Reffett from George Lynch's solo band, and a half dozen other guitarists. Others such as the opening title track "Intermezzo" show Michael returning to that defining neo-classical style which populated his most recent efforts.
Lyrics — 8
Michael Angelo Batio's new solo album "Intermezzo" doesn't include a lead vocalist, which in many ways is a good thing. "Intermezzo" is a batch of bland, vanilla-sounding guitar dominated tracks: a quality we hear in so many renowned guitarists' most recent solo efforts. "Intermezzo" does include some awe inspiring guitar work, but most importantly (in my opinion) each track is bolstered by melody, and is enough to get your foot tapping in to time. If we did have the addition of a strong lead vocalist to this mix, he wouldn't get the proper attention that he would deserve when you have such a broad collection of guitar talent trying to grab your attention.
Overall Impression — 8
With Michael Angelo Batio's new solo album "Intermezzo," we have an impressive collection of guitar talent joining together to create some memorable melody-infused anthems. Dizzying arpeggios are aplenty on this effort, and it's enough to capture the interest of any guitar player.