Their lone album, Warriors Of The Night, was released in 1986 on their own label. That’s a distribution method that is common today, so X-Caliber was about 25 years early to the game. X-Caliber were fans of the more mystical side of power metal, with a heavy showing of glossy glam/hair metal.
The album is better when the former is emphasized. The title track is steeped in fantastical lyrics depicting warriors fighting in the darkness, killing demons and showing courage against adversity. The music takes on a galloping sort of interplay between the bass and a twin dose of manic guitars. Power metal fans will appreciate the cheesy voiceovers and shred-dominant lead guitar work. “The Sword” follows this track with a similar technique, invoking the spirit of Dio circa Holy Diver.
These two back-to-back tunes are as far as the band goes with stories of war and wizardry. The other six songs are more grounded in commercial fare, shoddy stories of lost love and raising one’s fist in the name of rock and roll. “Runaway” starts the album out with acoustic guitars and explosive choruses; appropriate for radio play, but a low-key opener. “Rock’s Alive,” the quintessential anthem for any ‘80s metal band, would have done better as the first impression of X-Caliber.
Though it sometimes seems like X-Caliber is struggling to find their identity, they do know how to write a catchy, mainstream metal jam. If it wasn’t for the limited promotion the album received, “Tell Me Why” could have made its mark on nationwide radio. In a time where Motley Crue and Bon Jovi were hitting their stride, a song like “Tell Me Why” could have been a strong single. Same goes to “Don’t Say Goodbye,” which is light on substance, but heavy on the unapologetic hair metal.
Ending the album on the acoustic ballad “Someday” is a little underwhelming, though it’s a platform for vocalist Kevin Donegan to get noticed. The vocals aren’t terrible, but they are usually overshadowed by guitarists Jerry Conrad and James F. Yedlick. These two stellar musicians are able to make an impact with a raw production holding them back. Since this was self-released, it lacks the touchups of more commercial release, though it still has that ‘80s flavor that dates the album.
X-Caliber disappeared after Warriors Of The Night, lost to the annuls of the underground. The only way to access the album today is by bootlegs that were released in the early ‘90s, which were then converted into digital form and distributed over the Internet.
X-Caliber may have been a bit too glam for the typical power metal fan, but the title track and “The Sword” make this a worthwhile investment. For not being afraid to mix commercial songs with fantasy-based epics, Warriors Of The Night gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation. “Warriors Of The Night” Video