Released: 2010, Massacre
Once in a while I'll come across a bigger name band that we haven't reviewed yet and I'll try to cover a bit more history for those who may be not as familiar with the band. Generally, we try to keep our reviews contemporary and avoid going back and covering albums pre-1995. I was a bit surprised that we haven't covered any Exciter yet as they have had five releases in the second phase of their career namely after founding member, drummer/vocalist, Dan Beehler left in 1993 and founding guitarist John Ricci and new drummer Rik Charon carried the torch. Actually Charon has been in Exciter with Ricci longer than Beehler at this point!
As our regular readership know I like to create themes in my reviews so in that spirit I am also reviewing the new Beehler album (ex-Exciter) MESSAGES TO THE DEAD as well this month. They make a nice pair of albums. Feel free to read that review to see what he is up to these days.
DEATH MACHINE is Exciter's tenth album, not a bad milestone but they haven't been the most prolific band considering they were formed in 1978. This is actually a reissue because DEATH MACHINE originally came out on Massacre Records in late 2010. First impressions are good, especially the striking cover art. Exciter have had a weird mix of really plain album covers; HEAVY METAL MANIAC ('83), EXCITER ('88) and KILL AFTER KILL ('92) and shocking covers VIOLENCE AND FORCE ('84) and UNVEILING THE WICKED ('86), but this one takes the cake. It certainly won't win any awards for being politically correct or endear them to the feminists! It nice to see these Canadian veterans can still come up with some thing that pushes the boundaries of good taste!
Speaking of good taste, the album itself it killer. Short and sweet at 9 tracks for 41 minutes it left me wanting more. Kenny Winters, the bands fourth vocalist, has settled in nicely as Exciter enjoys a bit of lineup stability for two albums in a row. There is a lot of nostalgia for the voice of Beehler but Winters is a damn fine Metal singer. He also has some help on back-up gang vocals, one of the standout examples in one the short and sweet tune ‘Hellfire’. Overall, this is a mean album! With cuts like ‘Pray for Pain’, Slaughtered In Vain’, and closer ‘Skullbreaker’ these guys mean business. The album is predominantly high-speed with some great soloing although at times the guitar seems at bit muted during the solos, I would have liked it up higher in the mix. The speed is not always just double-kick often there is a more of a frantic, almost (newer) Motorhead vibe in the intensity of the drumming. The guitars roar along keeping the riffing raw, simple and catchy.
In my mind, and it could just be my perception, Exciter have always had their share of bad luck. Lineup changes, label instability, (Shrapnel, Megaforce, MFN, Maze, Noise, Osmose, Massacre) long periods between albums (4 years here, 5 years there, 8 years later...) but somehow they have overcome the in-fighting, endured trends, survived the industry and in 35 years have released 10 great records and DEATH MACHINE is as good as anything in their catalogue.