Before I decided to write this review, I looked over my documents folder at the reviews I had already done this month and I had to shake my head. Perhaps I was becoming at heart, the geezer I already was in age. Every damn album was traditional, NWOBHM, Classic US Metal, or a combination of all three. “Wait,” I thought. “The oldest of these bands has been around 10 years and the others, much less than that.” So, I might as well actually review some geezers. When you remove the modern production of the new guys, there is not much of a difference between those and SYMPHONIES OF STEEL, even in the album titles (Prowler’s album is called STALLIONS OF STEEL for Pete’s sake!).
Fortuitously for me, Pure Steel Records has decided to celebrate the reunion of the original Exxplorer lineup with a re-issue of the band’s classic 1985 album on vinyl only. Back in 1985, Exxplorer was virtually unknown, releasing one album and then calling it quits until 1994. Lennie Rizzo’s vocals had an unmistakable charm, while the guitar work was impressive if not exactly bulldozing in tone. The thump from Jimmy Gardner’s bass gave the album a full sound and on the reissue it is still the most prominent element in the mix.
“Run For Tomorrow” is the unmistakable signature track, but the album holds other great songs like the opener “City Streets”, “Exxplorer” with its Warlord aspirations, and the Manowar approved ode to metal in “Metal Detectors”. “World War III” is the lone ballad, and treads dangerously close to Crimson Glory territory. It is not a bad song but not remarkable either. The album concludes with the marching chug fest of “X-Termination”, delivered with a mailed fist.
At the time, Exxplorer broke the mold a bit, experimenting and discarding some of the expected tenets of NWOBHM in an effort to carve their own niche. As a result, not everything works and there are a few moments of mortal weakness rather than god-like steel. Still, this album had a profound influence on many bands, as I became aware after hearing the new albums I reviewed this week. Great thing is, these guys are back and releasing vital music, as 2011’s VENGEANCE RIDES AN ANGRY HORSE forcefully demonstrates. Recommended if you missed them the first time around, or are a fan of classic US Metal and NWOBHM.
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1. City Streets
3. Run for Tomorrow
5. World War III
6. Going to Hell
1. Objection Overruled: a) Guilty as Charged
2. b) Phantasmagoria
3. Metal Detectors