early-to-mid 1980's, Exciter rivaled bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Raven and fellow Canadians Anvil for power/thrash
metal superiority and were growing extremely popular. I was a big fan of their
first two albums when I was a teenager in high school.. By 1993 the band was at
a low, with only drummer/vocalist Dan Beehler remaining from the old days. After
several years of silence, original guitarist John Ricci put together a new lineup
in 1996 and began releasing albums that were as good as their old material.
"Heavy Metal Maniac" is considered a classic album by most metal enthusiasts. It had to be one of the very first thrash metal albums to come out, with only Raven beating them to the punch. Still, at the time Exciter were contenders with Metallica and Anthrax for thrash metal superiority, and this disc shows why. It had the speed, aggression and attitude. The recording was rough, sounding like a demo that was probably recorded live in someone's basement, but that only adds to the overall appeal. Not unlike many of those early, underground bands, it wasn't about stellar production, it was about plugging in, turning up and cranking out the metal! That is exactly what Exciter delivers. OK, a few songs have those cliché "evil" type heavy metal lyrics. However, this was pretty typical of the early 80's metal and thrash movement. "World War III" and the title track are classic tracks from this album.
"World War III" a bonus track on this particular pressing of Heavy Metal Maniac? The song was originally released in 1982 on the band's first demo tape of the same name, then later appeared on the second US Metal compilation on Shrapnel Records. Other CD reissues also included "Evil Sinner" from that demo.
The sophomore release from Exciter and a Canadian speed-metal classic, rivaled only by Raven for more lunatic metal, and certainly usurping Manowar's crown as the heaviest band in 1984. Certainly Exciter may well have been one of the very first thrash bands. "Pounding Metal" was a favorite of mine for years and was one of those songs I put on every compilation tape I would make for friends. Unfortunately this reissue features little in the way of packaging, but as I recall the original didn't have much either. The cover on this album always made me laugh, ever wonder how that hand is holding onto the switchblade that looks like it's metaphysically dangling?
Another track was recorded for this album that was only released on a couple of rare compilation CDs. "Death Revenge" was released on Megaforce's "The Megavault" and "Deeper Into the Vaults" compilation. Six Feet Under recorded a cover of "Pounding Metal".
I own the Steamhammer CD reissue of this album as well as the original vinyl. My copy is autographed by guitarist John Ricci.
Exciter's third full-length record continues in the hyper, speed metal mode of the first two albums with Dan Beehler busting a gut singing as high as he possibly can. The title track of this record is one of the band's signature songs and is a timeless metal anthem.
Picked up this excellent reissue from Molten Metal USA. Not exactly sure who reissued the disc as there is no record company listed, no copyright material nor any catalogue numbers, so I can only assume it's a very high quality bootleg recording. (Old Metal Records?) Nice to have the 'Feel the Knife' EP as bonus tracks.
Powergod recorded a cover of "Fall Out/Long Live the Loud".
1. "Break Down the
"Unveiling the Wicked" is high pitched, high energy, earth shaking, heavy metal! For some reason that is unknown to me, many metal fans felt this album was a "sellout". That couldn't be further from the truth. "Unveiling the Wicked" remains pretty close to the formula the band has followed since the beginning. There are a few slightly more commercial moments on this disc, such as the anthemic "I Hate School Rules" but anyone who would claim this album is anything but hyper heavy metal is insane. Nothing on "Unveiling the Wicked" ever approaches 'sellout.' Dan Beehler's vocals are still glass shattering, the riffs still pummeling, and the speed is still there. "Live Fast, Die Young" is pure Exciter speed metal! Sure, songs like "Die In The Night" and "School Rules" slow things down slightly, but this just succeeds in giving the disc some variety. Actually these two songs remind me of fellow Canadian metalhead's Anvil. "Shout It Out" could have fit nicely on any of the band's past three album and has a similar scream along feel as "Pounding Metal". "Brainstorm" is nothing more than guitar torture. I'm pretty sure that new axeman Brian McPhee had to do some community service because of the unlawful things done to his guitar on "Brainstorm". "Living Evil" is a another heavy tack reminiscent of Violence & Force. It’s actually better due to a better guitar sound.
Exciter (Maze Music) 1988
1. "Scream Bloody
Dan Beehler and his speed metal cohorts slow it down a notch or two for this one and bring in something unforgivable in thrash metal circles; melody. That's not to say the album isn't still heavy. Personally I think it was an improvement, although the band's fan base didn't seem to go for it and this album didn't do to well for the pioneers of speed and aggression. Not sure why though, as Metallica did the same thing on "Master of Puppets" in 1986 and their popularity exploded. Besides there are still plenty of speed metal to be had in tracks like "Scream Bloody Murder" and "Enemy Lines". One other big change on this album was that Dan Beehler relinquished his role as lead vocalist, hiring an equally high-range shrieker Rob Malnati. Despite having grown up with groundbreaking albums like "Violence & Force" and "Heavy Metal Maniac", this CD gets more play in my CD player than both those early CDs together. As is printed on the back of this CD, "This album was specially mixed to be played LOUD & PROUD!" This is certainly one of the most underrated CDs in Exciter's catalogue.
Exciter - Better Live Than Dead (Pilot) 1991
1. "Stand Up &
Exciter recorded live at a club in February of 1991. There is very little information given about this disc, although it does feature original vocalist/drummer Dan Beehler and guitarist John Ricci. The recording isn't bad, but not overly polished either, giving a true live feel. It is obvious that little, if any, overdubs or studio fixes were done. The reason I say that is because some of John's guitar solos are botched. This becomes painfully obvious since there is only one guitarist, and thus only bass and drums backing the guitar solos. It's hard to hide mistakes when you are out on you own like that. Anyhow, despite this, there is a sense of excitement and energy that is conveyed on the disc, which is what I like about live albums. The material featured is all pulled from the band's first three albums, which most would consider their best. I particularly enjoyed the material on the last half of the disc. Tracks 9 through 13 are some of the band's finest.
Exciter - Kill After Kill (In Rock) 1992
Exciter - The Dark Command (Osmose) 1997
In 1996 a new Exciter lineup was formed. Joining original guitarist, John Ricci is vocalist, Jacques Belanger, drummer, Rik Charron, and bassist, Marc Charron. Soon after their reformation "The Dark Command" was released. This "new" material sounds a lot like their original, fast, aggressive, speed metal sound, although the vocals are a bit more melodic yet still biting and aggressive. The lyrics haven't changed much over the years either. Exciter still likes to portray the stereotypical "evil" image with songs of death and war. If you can overlook this, then the music is spectacular. Obtained this CD from an internet trade on the PM Board. Thanks Alec.
Exciter - Blood of Tyrants (Osmose) 2000
As I said in the short bio above, it was this CD that rekindled my interest in this band. "Blood of Tyrants" is one fast and furious metal album. I suppose some would label it thrash, while others would say speed metal. I'm not sure what to label it, but the music is furious and the vocals are just plain cool. I didn't know bands still made metal like this in 2000. Metal freak flag's are flyin' high in the Exciter camp.
In the last few years it's become somewhat of a trend for classic rock, metal and thrash bands to re-record older material with their newer line-ups. Testament, Anthrax, Twisted Sister, Exodus, Sodom, among many others, have all released similar recordings. Exciter's "New Testament" follows suit and features the current line-up of Jacques Belanger - Vocals, John Ricci - Guitars & Bass and Rick Charron - Drums re-recording select songs from nearly the entire Exciter catalog. "New Testament" basically functions as a best of album.
Exciter were one of the earliest speed metal bands on the scene. Their early albums, while being historically important and considered classics among metal enthusiasts, were not properly recorded and generally have very poor sound quality. That fact alone is good reason to re-record some of these songs. The production is, of course, much improved over the original recordings for the most part. There is much to be said about atmosphere, and those early recording with the original line-up can never be replaced. It's still cool to hear some of these songs with a proper recording. For the most part, the songs chosen are the faster songs. However, one of my favorite songs, "Pounding Metal" made the cut and proves that Exciter can write a great mid-paced anthem. I must also add that I consider "Heavy Metal Maniac" to be one of the great metal anthems of all time along with Anvil's "Metal on Metal" and Saxon's "Denim & Leather". The biggest obstacle that most longtime fans will have to overcome is not hearing Dan Beehler's signature howl on these songs. He most certainly had a charm and charisma that were all his own. Jacques Belanger is a good vocalist and has a high voice that sounds Halford-esque at times. He is probably a better singer technically and he does an oustanding job here, but as I already stated, there is something about those original recordings that can never be replaced.
There are also five tracks from newer studio album included, "The Dark Command", "Aggressor". "Ritual Death", "Rule With An Iron Fist", and "Brutal Warning. These tracks are good as well, proving that Exciter have always flew their metal flag high and proud, even during the musically depressed 90's. However, those original recordings weren't bad at all and didn't really need re-recording. Personally, I would have rather have had songs like "Screaming in the Night", "Feel the Knife" and "War is Hell" included instead.
"New Testament" includes: "Stand Up And Fight", "Heavy Metal Maniac", "Rising Of The Dead" and "Blackwitch" (all from the class debut album Heavy Metal Maniac, 1983); "Violence and Force" and "Pounding Metal" (from Violence And Force, 1984); "Long Live The Loud", I Am The Beast", and "Victims Of Sacrifice" (from Long Live The Loud, 1985), "Rain Of Terror" (from Kill After Kill-1992), "The Dark Command", "Aggressor", and "Ritual Death" (from The Dark Command, 1997) and "Rule With An Iron Fist" and "Brutal Warning" (from Blood Of Tyrants, 2000). Nothing was included from Unveiling the Wicked or the 1988 self titled album.
Exciter are one of the under appreciated purveyors of speed and thrash metal. They are also one of Canada's champions of heavy metal, along with Annihilator and Anvil.
It's been nearly eight years since we've heard any new material from guitarist John Ricci and his band of speed metal maniacs. If there is any doubt that Exciter are sticking to their guns, the title alone should be enough to prove that they are still cranking out old school, high energy, full volume, hyper, heavy metal. You wont' hear even the slightest hint of more modern influences in this one. "Thrash Speed Burn" is chock full of razor sharp riffs, over-the-top guitar solos, screaming vocals, gang choruses, etc. For the most part, the songs are all pretty fast paced, with the exception of the lengthy "Crucifixion", which takes a slightly less manic, mid-tempo approach. Still songs like "Massacre Mountain", "Demon's Gate" and the title track are sure to please long time fans. I'd even go so far as to say that "Demon's Gate" sounds like it could have been written during those early "Violence & Force" days. Even the recording is old school, sounding very raw and almost "live".
Founding member and vocalist Dan Beehler will always be missed. His voice and charisma were a large part of what I liked about Exciter. However, new vocalist Kenny Winter has a similar high, shrill voices although he isn't an exact clone either. Aside from that fact, "Thrash Speed Burn" has everything anyone could want from an Exciter album; metal, metal and more metal!
Caught Exciter live at Thrashageddon II in Albuquerque, NM. The band were outstanding on stage and very cool and down to earth off the stage. They watched the other band's performed, hung out and talked with the other bands and fans, signed autographs, etc. I had them sign my "Violence & Force" vinyl, as well as my "Thrash Speed Burn" CD. It's amazing how seeing a band live can make you appreciate an album even moreso than you did before seeing them. That is certainly the case with "Thrash Speed Burn".
1. Death Machine (4:14)
In 2008 Exciter returned with a new line-up (guitarist John Ricci being the only original member) and released the"Thrash Speed Burn". I was lucky enough to catch the band in a rare U.S. performance for this album. Now in 2011that same line-up returns with "Death Machine". Like it's predecessor, "Death Machine" sounds like Exciter. It has the speed, the manic, hysterical vocals and that raw, distorted and static-ridden John Ricci guitar sound. Every song thrashes along at a frenzied pace. Each as ugly and chaotic as the next with Kenny “Metal Mouth” Winter screaming like a banshee 'til daybreak.
The song writing is far from complex and the lyrics are riddled with heavy metal clichés , but then, if you are listening to Exciter, you wouldn't want to have it any other way. Exciter have always relied on raw aggression, speed and volume moreso than complex songwriting or studio sheen and production.
The album ends with a hidden bonus track, which is nothing more than a manic guitar solo from Ricci. This thing comes right out of the U.S. Metal years. (Those who were around in the early 80's surely remember the U.S. Metal compilations). It's pure heavy metal noise. What a great way to end this album.
There are a lot of retro-thrash bands and heavy metal bands trying to recapture the sounds of the 80s. It takes someone who was actually there to successfully recreate that sound. "Death Machine" could have been the follow-up to "Long Live the Loud." No, it won't garner praise for the album of they year or be on the top of the greatest metal albums ever released. However, those who love old school heavy metal and especially Exciter, have another gem to add to their collections.