Take one look at the band name and the album cover, and you just know it’s going to be good. Pennsylvania’s X-Caliber independently released their one and only vinyl, Warriors Of The Night, in 1986. One expects to find epic power metal within, but truth be told, Warriors Of The Night only has a few fantasy-based cuts. Much of the rest leans more towards early hair metal. But my overall assessment of the album is a very positive one. There’s just something very likeable about X-Caliber’s soup kitchen metal. At the end of the day, X-Caliber had a nice collection of catchy, straightforward songs. My favorite being The Sword, one of the two “suit and armor” styled cuts on the record. After a short acoustic intro, the band breaks into a moderately paced gallop. Vocalist Kevin Donegan provides a clean, understated vocal and a memorable chorus refrain. Unlike most American power metal vocalists of the day, Donegan didn’t enunciate his words like some turtleneck wearing thespian. Leaving the dramatics at the door, his “normal guy” vocals can be a refreshing change of pace to anyone who has spent years of their life listening to guys like Dio, Tate, and Dickinson over-doing it. Elsewhere, when X-Caliber attempts their “hair” metal style, they come across as a poor man’s Dokken or Great White. Now don’t get me twisted, I don’t mean “poor man” in the sense that X-Caliber were a lame imitation of anyone. No, I mean it in the sense that X-Caliber didn’t have the means to pretty up their songs like a Dokken or a Great White. Tell Me Why, for example, sounds like a Dokken huffing glue in the garage. It has a main riff and smooth melodic chorus that reeks of Dokken. The solo on this song, I should mention, is exceptional! It reminds me of the flashy yet tasteful style of White Lion’s Vito Bratta.
In the end, I recommend Warriors Of The Night to any metal fan out that there that likes to root for the underdog. This album won’t blow your mind in a way that will have you re-arranging any of your top ten lists, but it does have a certain genuine charm that only an indie metal release can produce. My score: B