Exxplorer – “Symphonies Of Steel” (1984)

Symphonies Of Steel 1984 (1) This band is better known as Exxplorer (with a second “x”), but they were actually called Explorer when Symphonies Of Steel was released for the first time in 1984.  At this time, Symphonies Of Steel was released independently on the H-H-H label.  The cover was the one shown on the left (also check out the H-H-H logo on the LP label for a good laugh).  A year later, the French label Black Dragon Records released Symphonies Of Steel with this cover.  By this time, the band had changed over to the Exxplorer moniker.  Then in 1986, Metal Blade Records released the album with yet another new cover (this is my favorite cover of the bunch, and the version of the album that I own).

Exxplorer’s maiden voyage began with an awesome track called City Streets (it was track-one on the Metal Blade version, and track-four on the original H-H-H version).  Here, the band immediately revealed themselves as power metal contenders in the early year of 1984.  The verse consists of studly riffing and a driving tempo, which gives way to a mellower, half-time chorus refrain.  This songwriting technique is one of my favorites in metal, as it reverses convention and brings with it a splash of drama.  Side one continues to pound away with American metal might, with fine cuts like Run For Tomorrow, Exxplorer (titled Explorer on the original) , and the Warlord-esque World War III.  However, as side one closes with Goin’ To Hell (called Going To Hell on the original), we begin to see a few chinks in Exxplorer’s battle armor.  Goin’ To Hell, though a decent song, contains a fair share of grade-school rhymes that might cause a cringe or two.

Now as you know, the difference between a good album and a great album is often decided on side two.  Many albums pack all the good songs up front, and those bands with a shortage of killer tunes in their arsenal start to fade come side two.  Unfortunately, Symphonies Of Steel is one of those albums.  The two-part Objection Overruled bogs down most of side two with its almost twelve minutes of length.  The song fails to really take hold, inducing sleepiness much like an chloroform-soaked rag.  The album closes with a couple of fair to middling numbers in Metal Detectors and X-termination.

Bottom line: though I rarely re-visit side two of Symphonies Of Steel anymore, the throat punch of side one remains a legit flash of the steely blade.  My score: B


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