Hell Razor>>EXCITER - CANADA

Heavy Metal Maniac - 1983 - Shrapnel
Violence & Force - 1984 - Megaforce
Long Live The Loud - 1985 - MFN
Unveiling The Wicked - 1986 - MFN
Exciter - 1988 - Maze
Kill After Kill - 1992 - Noise
Better Live Than Dead - 1992 - Noise
The Dark Command - 1997 - Osmose
Blood Of Tyrants - 2000 - Osmose
Thrash, Speed, Burn - 2008 - Massacre
Death Machine - 2010 - Massacre

Exciter image
  
 
Members
S= Jet Black>>Dan Beehler>>Kiljoy, Beehler - Crypt>>Rob Malnati - Jet Black, Kiljoy>>Dan Beehler>>Beehler - Jacques Belanger>>Assassin’s Blade - Jacques Belanger>>Assassin’s Blade - Fischel's Beast>>Kenny Winter>>Fischel's Beast

G= John Ricci>>Black Star - Jet Black>>Brian McPhee>>Punch Tube - Black Star>>John Ricci>>Black Star

B= Jet Black>>Allan Johnson>>Beehler, Reverend – Crypt, Kiljoy>>David Ledden>>Miasma & The Carousel Of Headless Horses - Jeff McDonald>>Great Scott - Marc Charron - Peace Colony, Think Tank>>Rob Cohen>>Think Tank, Deathriders

D= Jet Black>>Dan Beehler>>Kiljoy, Beehler – Kiljoy, Beehler>>Dan Beehler>>Beehler - Rik Charron>>Dark Ministry, Mind Assassin, Spiral Wheel - Rik Charron>>Dark Ministry, Mind Assassin, Spiral Wheel, Necronomicon




History & Biography
Ottawa's Exciter was one of the leaders of the new extreme wave of metal that swept the underground metal scene in the early ‘80s. Dan and Allan knew one another and the latter man introduced the former to John Ricci. Dan Beehler had joined Allan Johnson's band Jet Black and the two had been jamming. Johnson had put an advertisement in the newspaper looking for a drummer. Dan Beehler had come literally knocking on his door. Jet Black had broken up and Allan Johnson went to audition for Hell Razor. Allan Johnson recommended Dan Beehler when he found out that John Ricci/Hell Razor needed a drummer as well. Beehler would join and be tasked with drumming at first and singing as well later, as John was the very first vocalist, something that was rarely done before and certainly not at the speeds Hell Razor and Exciter operated. Gil Moore of fellow Canadians Triumph did double duty in those days, but was in a hard rock act. Canadians also had Rush as another powerful trio.

Formed in May 1979 (and not 1978 as many remember wrongly), playing cover versions for a while and changing the monicker to Exciter - based on Dan's older brother/the group's roadie Richard Beehler's suggestion - in 1980, they were signed by Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records based on the Heavy Metal Maniac demo and given a slot on his U.S. Metal Vol. II compilation even if the band was not from the US. The band Hell Razor was John Ricci's group, which the Jet Black two Dan and Allan had joined. As such, many thought the new Hell Razor is the old Hell Razor (without Dan and Allan) and a new name made sense. First, however, Exciter had driven down to Toronto to record a demo called World War III in 1982. Back to Shrapnel Records, the company had advertised in Guitar Player magazine looking for heavy metal bands and Exciter had submitted a tape. Shrapnel Records was so interested, in fact, that the label asked for the Heavy Metal Maniac demo the band had recorded to become an album. The band had not intended its demo to be an album, but its soundman/roadie John Belrose had done such a good job on an 8-track console that the demo became the debut album. Mike Varney is a God fearing Christian and Exciter's debut record came with an etching saying "In God We Trust." First, however, the band was to open for Black Sabbath in Ottawa in August 1982. The act played the Heavy Metal Maniac songs in that exact order. The opening band Johnny Van Zant had cancelled without notice and the promoter had quickly reached out to the Exciter boys. The concert was postponed by two days due to rain and Johnny Van Zant became unavailable. The debut album was a demo. which the band had intended to press, release and promote independently before Shrapnel asked for it to go on the label. The band had approached record companies in Canada and, as usual, been shot down.

The band had signed to Megaforce next in order to be able to gain opportunities to tour, but there were only four concerts in the New York area with Anthrax. A song called Death Revenge did not meet the band's own seal of approval and was discarded only to be used on a compilation called From The Megavault by Megaforce in 1985. The band supported album number two by opening for Motörhead and Mercyful Fate in Canada and the USA. Violence & Force was coincidentally produced by Carl Canedy of The Rods, which had appeared on, and had production credit, U.S. Metal Vol. II. The record was recorded in 1983, which was when its predecessor was issued. The band's contract was sold to Music For Nations by Megaforce. The band recalls that Megaforce had exchanged Exciter for another band with Music For Nations, but truth was also that the band and Megaforce were quarreling. MFN issued the third record, Long Live The Loud. A proposed European tour with The Rods and Metallica was cancelled. The band had flown to Europe only to find out that poor ticket sales had killed the tour. A hastily arranged pub gig in London is all they got.

Even though the band is often credited with being the first to record a speed/thrash metal album, a series of line-up changes and false labels cost the band much momentum. Only European break came when the band supported Accept in Europe for Long Live The Loud. There were ten concerts on this trek. Guy Bidmead, who had worked with Motörhead recorded Long Live the Loud and Unveiling The Wicked in England. The group also obtained a contract with Montreal's Banzai Records for Canada. The band toured with Motörhead again (this time in Europe) and Manowar, Lȧȧz Rockit and Railway after Unveiling The Wicked in 1986. The band toured with Megadeth for the Long Live The Loud album in the USA. Exciter was the headliner. Feel The Knife was a late 1986 EP. The title track was taken from the Long Live The Loud sessions.

Dan and John were not getting along however. John quit in 1985 and did Black Star instead. John and Dan were not getting along amidst a game of one-upmanship, John accusing Dan of scuttling shows, like one set up by Banzai in Montreal, and their deal with that label and generally the band was not finding a way to become bigger. Brian McPhee, who was with Dan Beehler and Allan Johnson in Jet Black, replaced John Ricci in 1985 and is heard on Unveiling The Wicked. Singer Rob Malnati sang on the self-titled album of 1988. This album, which was also called O.T.T. in Europe, was first recorded with Dan on vocals. That take was scrapped in favour of the new singer Rob. There was pressure to go more commercial and have a new singer at the same time. The band recalls Brian McPhee being interested in making the band softer. The self-titled album's producer Ed Stone was also in favour of a more slick Exciter.

That was it and the band split up in 1988. The band was bleeding members by the time Exciter was released and when Ricci and Beehler put it all together again. Even the revamped line-up was critical of that album and era. Johnson was called and called, but was uninterested in rejoining. He was once bitten twice shy. This reincarnated Exciter first appeared in 1991 on the Capital Punishment sampler released by new manager Manfred Leidecker. David Ledden replaced Allan Johnson.

In the 1990s Noise Records signed the band and Exciter opened for Rage across Western Europe! Again, the band bled members until the Osmose incarnation (with Ricci being the only original member) came into being. Bassist David Ledden played on the Kill After Kill album. He, like Rob Malnati, had arrived from Montreal's Crypt. Bassist Jeff MacDonald stayed for two concerts in 1993, but appeared in the video for the song Rain Of Terror from the Kill After Kill album. Better Live Than Dead was released in 1993, but was recorded in 1991. Beehler had hung it up in 1993 as grunge was in, the label was not paying the band and Johnson was MIA. He was also a new father.

Exciter was always characterized by the banshee wails of Beehler and ripping guitars. Ricci reformed the band without Allan Johnson or Beehler in 1996. Beehler had, in fact, not drummed at all for most of the 1990s. The Dark Command of 1997 was on Osmose Productions of France. A more recent recruit called Belanger seemed to be in and out of the band often. Dead Calm singer Steve Carter was also the band's singer during the summer of 1999. Following the arguments between singer Jacques Belanger and John Ricci in Exciter and the former's departure, the new line-up with ex-Dead Calm singer Steve Carter decided not to record a remake of the band's classic Black Witch for the new album Blood Of Tyrants. Richard Beehler, who had advised Dan to return to Exciter, died in 1999.

In January of 2001, Beehler recruited members and formed a new band called Beehler. Months later Beehler recruited original Exciter bassist Allan Johnson to his cause. Marc Charron left the fold late in 2002. Rob Degroot was also announced as the new singer for Exciter.

Former Exciter frontman Jacques Belanger had rejoined the band in 2003 - he had left and returned several times. Rob Degroot, who had joined the band in autumn of 2002, was asked to leave because "he was not progressing and adapting to Exciter's signature style."

In 2003 the band reported that the line-up is recording sixteen songs of which ten are from the band's back catalogue and five of which are brand new. The album was due out through Osmose in January of 2004. John Ricci was taking care of all guitars and bass on that recording. Osmose Productions licensed the self-cover version re-recorded ‘classics’ album New Testament in North America to The End Records. Belanger sang on it. In the autumn of 2004 the band cancelled a Belgian show because singer Jacques Belanger had a vocal cord in need of surgery. The band soon flew back to Canada.

The band was booked for The Montreal Metal Massacre Fest alongside Razor, DBC, Anvil and Aggression in December of 2005. For the third time in ten years Jacques Belanger quit the band in May of 2006. Due to "differences of opinion” on many issues between Jacques and the rest of the band, the singer had felt he could no longer continue as vocalist for Exciter. The band had to cancel shows in Europe, the USA and Canada, but had completed the writing for a new CD. The new voice of Exciter was American Kenny ‘metalmouth’ Winter from Brooklyn, New York. Fans were due to hear Kenny’s vocal performance on the upcoming new release, Thrash Speed Burn, expected in early 2007. In what the band described as “good news,” Exciter parted ways with Osmose Productions in 2007. The band was looking for a new label for the release of the Thrash Speed Burn album. The label was founded and was called Massacre Records. The group hit the road in Canada in the meanwhile and played at the MQM show in Toronto in the summer. Chainsaw, Picture, Tokyo Blade, Exciter and Tygers Of Pan Tang were some of the bands at 2009’s Heavy Metal Maniacs festival, scheduled for October 23rd and 24th at Manifesto in Hoorn, Holland. Exciter, Necrophobic, Freedom Call, Crashdiet and Udo were participating in a ship cruise called Sweden Rock Cruise departing Stockholm on October 8th, 2009! Thrash metal forerunners Exciter issued a new album, Death Machine, on September 24th through Massacre Records. Bëehler and opener Hirax played at the Metal Attack II festival in São Paulo, Brazil on June 19th, 2011.

It was initially announced in 2014 that guitarist John Ricci had retired from music and Exciter. Subsequently, the band fired bassist Rob "Clammy" Cohen for personal and business reasons in 2014. Apparently, the newer Exciter members were trying to wrest the name from John Ricci and keep going. Thereafter, Ricci returned and announced the Ottawa speed metal band was reforming with its original line-up of singer and drummer Dan Beehler, bassist Allan Johnson and John Ricci in 2014. Ricci had previously categorically stated that the original three would never reunite. The band played the Keep It True festival. The reunited original trio line-up (drummer/vocalist Dan Beehler, guitarist John Ricci and bassist Allan Johnson) performed on March 18th 2016 at Foufounes Électriques in Montreal, Canada. Piledriver opened for Exciter. On September 17th, 2016 Annihilator performed its first show in Western Canada since 1993. Also appearing were to be the recently reformed and original lineup of speed metal pioneers Exciter at its first Western Canadian performance since 1985. The show would be opened by thrash metal veterans Razor and Sacrifice. Calgary’s Gatekrashör would provide the last call entertainment. Jeff Waters of Annihilator was an early fan of Exciter back in Ottawa and had remastered Heavy Metal Maniac, Long Live The Loud, etc. in 2005. Guitarist John Ricci, drummer and vocalist Dan Beehler and bassist Allan Johnson regrouped in early 2018 and were working on a new album. The act appeared at 70,000 Tons Of Metal. The band was in pre-production for a record again.

Original guitarist John Ricci left the band in September 2018 again. The band’s reformation with the original members was off again pending the next incarnation. The group recruited guitarist Daniel Dekay (Diemonds) following the departure of John Ricci in late 2018. Ricci and company were making a new album when, as usual, they split apart. The rest of the band claimed ignorance of the reason for Ricci’s departure following the band’s return from Singapore other than Dan and john were suabbling. Exciter headlined the Hell’s Heroes festival in Houston, Texas, USA on April 13th 2019. The band featured guitarist Daniel Dekay of Aggressor who had replaced original guitarist John Ricci. Dekay was alos the business manager now. The band was opening for Sacred Reich in Toronto in May. Warsenal, Survival Instinct, Twilight Hammer and Exciter played a New Year’s Eve 2020 concert at Hard Luck Bar in Toronto. Vio-lence, Voivod, Exciter and Artillery announced a MTV Headbangers Ball monicker to tour Europe in autumn 2021. Exciter, Vio-Lence, Coroner and Lich King were conducting a mini-tour of the USA in the spring of 2022. This was followed by a run of Canadian dates and a subsequent trip to Europe. Exciter was conducting a mini-tour of the USA in October and November. The band was joined by Night Cobra for three California shows. The band continued to write for a new record. The band was booked for the 2 Minutes To Tulsa show alongside Vicious Rumors, Satan and Night Demon in 2023. The band played several concerts in Texas to commemorate forty years of Heavy Metal Maniac as well as did the same in Europe. Exciter commemorated the fortieth anniversary of its debut album, Heavy Metal Maniac, with a European tour in May and June 2023 focusing on that record’s tracks. Opening at various times were Artillery, Blood Star and Screamer. Exciter was beginning the trek with an appearance at Up The Hammers Festival in Greece. The act appeared at Huggins Awakening Fest VII in 2023. The 40 Years of Heavy Metal Maniac tour of Canada and USA focused on that album in the autumn. The Canadians were booked for Built For Speed 2024 in Mexico where Bat and Omen were opening.


Reviews

EXCITER - HEAVY METAL MANIAC - SHRAPNEL  
The upstart Canadians from the capital city of Ottawa recorded a 12-song demo for labels in order to get the word out and obtain a record deal. The band utilised the services of roadie and soundman John Belrose sitting behind an 8-track console. Still, the result was so good, and the sound so refreshingly fast and heavy, that Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records, who had just placed the band on a compilation, wanted to press the whole thing as an LP. The trio of singer and drummer Dan Beehler, guitarist John Ricci and bassist Allan Johnson immortalised music that to this day is extreme. Imagine how people who heard it felt in 1983. Still, this is the band’s first full-length recording. We already know how this turned out. Heavy Metal Maniac - the man appears on the cover - is a revolutionary and pioneering piece of speed and thrash metal. Could it be another case of a band’s debut being the best however? Let's examine the evidence.
The intro gives way to a sonic explosion and it is time to fight! What would become the classic line-up goes for the jugular singing "stand up and fight for the metal in your blood" (two years later Exodus would deliver the line, “It's time to fight for metal tonight” on their debut album) and if such a kick off track did not make the band's metal stance clear the next title, namely Heavy Metal Maniac piles on with, "I'm a heavy metal maniac…" The band blazes furiously and the guitar effects are in full motion here. Iron Dogs is heavy, pounding and noisy, but not quite as hot as the other tracks thus far. Singer Beehler pounds his chest on top of the screeching guitars, but this is not much of a song. Incidentally, the part where he sings of “citttyyyy” is pure Saint Vitus 1984. Mistress Of Evil starts, and ends, with a punky Motörhead vibe with loads of bass work and a great noise solo with tremolo action. First though comes the same drum pattern that starts Iron Maiden's Where Eagles Dare. Which came first, Iron Maiden’s Piece Of Mind or Exciter’s Heavy Metal Maniac? What a year 1983 was for metal, wasn’t it? Dan’s vocals nod to epic metal, which at this point is simply called… heavy metal. Savatage would later sound like this. Heck, if you like this (and if you don’t crawl back to your ‘Symphonic post shoegaze death metal,’ wimp) hear more of it not only on the early Savatage albums, but also on a Blessed Death or early Death Angel album! Rising Of The Dead is hardcore-tinged and features good bass work. It is reminiscent of Iron Maiden, which is not a coincidence perhaps as the lyrics here include, “You know dead men never lie” while Iron Maiden’s line in 1982 was no less than, “Dead men, tell no tales.” Regardless, this one is another good showcase for Beehler’s wild vocals all the while he is sitting behind the drums pummelling that thing. The love song Black Witch slows down and focuses on the pounding metal power of the bass, drum rolls and vocals that may have influenced Savatage right there. The trio is tight and the way Beehler enunciates “Black Witch” is replete with venom and spite. Great metal solo and then just as the listener thinks the song is about to end it launches into a thrash metal frenzy that excites, exhilarates and bewitches. Cry Of The Banshee is a thrashfest with nuclear guitars, a bona fide banshee scream and enough speed and heaviness to satisfy the most diehard metal fan (and maim your average Nightwish fan).
It is whimsical that every demo is being rereleased by a modern pseudo label (a.k.a. boy in mom’s basement doing no financing, budgeting, distribution or promotion) nowadays. For here is an early example of such a thing that not only worked, but also became a timeless mainstay of extreme metal. Fast or slow it is merciless, ruthless and restless and just what the metal doctor ordered.
Heavy Metal Maniac is a forerunner and early instance of speed and thrash metal that simultaneously pushed the entire subgenre forward. It contained aggressive and furious playing and high-pitched wailing vocals like no one had heard before. The revolutionary piece of music was so hard it electrocuted even average heavy metal fans upon release. It also stamped the band’s trademark sharp guitars, drum rolls and wild ghoul wails onto the scene forever.
The sound is worth briefly mentioning. The production is certainly more than okay. Not only it stemmed from a rudimentary console in the year 1983, but also capturing such music was without precedence, or much precedence, back in those days. The guitar sound is sharp as a hell razor. Well, done, John Belrose. That, by the way, is ironic because the band is giving free advertising to an amplifier and speaker company on the cover. With that said, my CD has some hissing on certain tracks. Could it be my early compact disc edition?
Oh, and, who knew Marshall amplifiers bleed? - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - VIOLENCE & FORCE - MEGAFORCE  
In short, a review is unneeded. The title says it all. Still, since the review is already mostly written feel free to read on.
Exciter’s second album, released in the year of 1984, is similar to its predecessor Heavy Metal Maniac and for good reason. Firstly, they are back to back albums. Secondly, Violence & Force was written as soon as Heavy Metal Maniac was released. The band was too small and too extreme to go tour the world or whatever. This was produced by Carl "The Sacred One" Canedy and setting “The Sacred One” aside, the man was a drummer and one for a metal band called The Rods. The Violence guitar sound is not as great as its predecessor, but still very good for fans of raw speed and thrash, and there is a slight dip in the quality of the songs, but not only is the change small, but also the predecessor was so good that even a larger drop off would have kept Violence & Force legitimate.
The second album begins with an intro again and dives into driving guitars, bashing drums and the trademark banshee vocals of Dan Beehler. It is continuously amazing that he delivers the high-pitched screams, but is simultaneously aggressive and forceful. The sound is not the hottest, but seriously this was 1984 and metal was marginal and Exciter was playing extreme marginal metal. The band did well to capture the unusually innovative and extreme metal of this album. The title track is about nuclear destruction recalling how the band’s demo was called World War III. A crackling bass makes its way through the cacophony here and is there on this track. A thick start heralds Scream In The Night. That is a good title for a band with Dan on vocals. The song is not the best and, strangely, the sound production drops a notch. Dan's screams are there, but the music is more conventional heavy metal of the time, which is a good thing in and of itself, but not so much in the context of Exciter if that makes sense. It starts like a drum sound check, yet Pounding Metal is not mundane and despite the change of tempo does pound with a heavier and mid-paced crush into the cranium. It is a more insistent and deliberate song with a catchy chorus, but is repetitive. Anvil had Pound For Pound in 1988, but Exciter had Pounding Metal four years earlier. Evil Sinner - as opposed to what, friendly sinner? - delivers great screams and speed metal. Destructor - which yes, was formed in the USA in 1984 - is average to start and becomes better only when the speed picks up. John Ricci has a deliciously manic solo in store for us. This song smacks of Long Live The Loud, but ssshhh we do not know about that song or album yet, Doctor Who. Delivering To The Master has a slow strumming start and a neat time change. There is some lull in superlative material here and a couple of so-so tracks, which takes us to Saxons Of The Fire, a speedy and thrashy aggressive cut with an impressive mid-song tempo change. Don't know what to think of the closer War Is Hell. Perhaps it could be described by saying it sounds like the kind of crap crappy bands like Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol or Medieval would put out. Exciter had run out of steam at this probably.
This album is good and still ahead of its time but it is no Heavy Metal Maniac. Truly debut albums are always the best. Side A here is of higher quality than side B. Elsewhere, we established that the band has something for only showing arms and hands and not much else on its covers, as well as how these wild Ottawa maniacs were making timeless albums. - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - LONG LIVE THE LOUD - MUSIC FOR NATIONS  
This floored me when it was released and hit my excited metal ears. Exciter’s third album is one hell of a speed/thrash album. The year is 1985 and Music For Nations of the UK finds itself in possession of a contract with the Ottawa, Canada-based trio both coincidentally and suddenly. Did the band deliver for the label and its fans? Metallian ratings never lie.
The album contains a side Heavy and a side Metal and the former begins, as is the band’s habit, with an intro. The title for it is Fall Out and it is a motif for the band whose demo was called World War III, its last album had a title track about nuclear war and the LP before started with a track called The Holocaust. What quickly becomes clear after the long and epic introduction is that album number three has an improved production, better bass sound, occasional harmony second guitar and a lot of vicious pounding metal. What has changed is the cover presentation. No longer satisfied with just an arm or a hand, Exciter depicts a Conan-esque character with a babe whose breasts, er whose arm is as long as any woman anyone’s known. She is also clearly sexually harassing/pleasuring the warrior given her reach and the groping action.
The title track is up next and is this reviewer’s favourite Exciter song. With more guitar licks than the next ten contenders combined, Long Live The Loud is an excellent power metal cut complete with a ferociously loud attack. The album is more complex than its predecessors, but remains wild. Kill The Beast maintains its thrash forward stance. Victims Of Sacrifice’s noisy tuning gives it added heaviness. Amidst all the finer things in metal, there is also some repetition. Parts like Born To Die are repetitive. Wake Up Screaming may have been influenced by Mercyful Fate, with whom the Canadians had toured.
The band was unhappy with the sound and evidently had little time to write, but the quality has picked up here in my estimation. After all, there is an urgency to this music, the bass is loud, the riffs are fast, the singer is screaming his guts out (is the scream at the end of Beyond The Gates Of Doom real?) and Exciter takes no prisoners in this no-quarter attack of an album. It is as if they had something to prove and lurched to it. Incidentally, and this deserves its own review, but the band would launch an EP called Feel The Knife with a hell of a dynamic title track. That song could be a killer live track. It is not on my CD, but certain editions include it. That is the edition for you.

Unfortunately, guitarist John Ricci would leave and this would become the end of the original line-up. He did leave on a high note with solos like on Sudden Impact and sharp rhythm throughout. - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - UNVEILING THE WICKED - MUSIC FOR NATIONS  
There was a lot to like in the 1980s. One of those items was the on fire metal band Exciter. The other was the TV serial V, which coincidentally featured one of the more cool Canadian actors, namely Michael Ironside. At first glance, Unveiling The Wicked promises to be a superb metal outing with the Exciter logo on top of a V-like cover artwork. The action-packed television series preceded the album by two years. Unfortunately, however, Unveiling The Wicked disappoints. The band would relate years later that it had a week to write the album. Whether that is strictly true or not, the album’s material does betray a certain amount of repetition and weakness. It is still a 60/100 and receives a mark of ‘above average’ from Metallian for its speed, power and banshee screams, but it is certainly a step down from what the trio had done.
Things had changed. No, it is not the lack of the customary intro on an Exciter album, which has merely been relocated to the start of the second side (a.k.a. Side Metal), but the absence of founding guitarist John Ricci who was replaced by former Jet Black six stringer Brian McPhee. During the course of the record the new man proves himself capable and adept, but the less extreme and less crafty material does his introduction and the band little favours.Simultaneously, a listener would detect several Japanese metal-related sections, sounds and fragments that just has to be sheer coincidence. The band has never stated any Japanese metal influences, and the timing is tight unless McPhee came in with influences from the Asian country, but the sounds and comparisons exist. That makes the ‘mere’ mark of sixty even less satisfying because this reviewer is certainly a fan of the involved Japanese bands’ music.
For the first time on an Exciter album there is no intro kicking off this one. Aside from Dan Beehler's banshee screams, Break Down The Walls has a clear whiff of Megadeth to it. The two bands had toured together prior to this record. Dan Beehler’s voice is somewhat struggling. That ‘somewhat’ should be qualified, however, as Beehler's was never a clean scream and benefitted from plenty of grit, but it is somewhat scratchier than before here. Either way, Beehler’s banshee screams remain exceptional. The new guitars are good, but not really barbed wire sharp and so the listener knows that John Ricci is gone. Speaking of which, while it does strangely decide to improve in specific nooks and crannies, the production is overarchingly bad. Odd that they have advanced in age and tenure and worked with the same producer as Long Live The Loud, namely Guy Bidmead, and the resulting audio has taken a dip in form. Break Down The Walls has longer soloing that nods at Iron Maiden and Diamond Head of the era. There is a funky bass sound and one moment of a good snare sound towards the end. Brian McPhee, who is ex-Jet Black, can play too. The instrumental Brainstorm sounds like Loudness’ Takasaki Akira is a guest and in Exploder mode. Speaking of Japanese metal, Die In The Night, vocals aside, begins with a riff like Japan-based Earthshaker’s debut from 1983. The song is repetitious though and the band has dialled down the intensity a notch and become more standard heavy metal. There is a Loudness riff in this song and a heavy bass presence. Then added are a nice time change and several superlative riffs. I Hate School Rules is an extreme version of a 1980s' LA glam style riffing and not just because this reviewer noticed the title. The same applies to the, nonetheless galloping and upbeat, track Shout It Out that follows.
Side B a.k.a. Metal starts with the intro missing from Side A. Living Evil comes with clever sound engineering despite beginning like a sound check and song-wise is reminiscent of a Sabs’ jam from Heaven And Hell. It also throws in a melodious Takasaki-like solo that hits the mark. It is mostly mid-paced stuff here except Live Fast, Die Young (of course), which has a good chug to it. The disc ends with Mission Destroy and, surprise surprise, it begins with a riff similar to one used by Japan's Presence/プレゼンス on the song You Want My Love from 1983.
Much to like, enjoy and a decent amount of speed and heaviness to this album, but Beehler and Johnson recall the album being written in a week and, exaggeration or not, it is not difficult to disbelieve them. The record has less fire in the belly, a couple of repetitive cuts and derivative material next to the firebrand Exciter material that preceded it. No doubt the band lost fans after this and who could blame them? Did Guy Bidmead forget how to tape bands or was he smoking weed? This is embarrassingly bad. Exciter faltered, but did not fail with Unveiling The Wicked. - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - Same - MAGNETIC AIR/MVD  
This is a re-release of Exciter’s 1988 self-titled album, which was originally issued by Maze. This version was reissued by the band’s Magnetic Air Records - as O.T.T. incidentally - and is now picked up for distribution by MVD and deservedly so. Exciter circa 1988 is trying to recapture the magic of its first two albums, 1983’s Heavy Metal Maniac and 1984’s Violence & Force simultaneous to the introduction of its new singer and the band’s expansion to a quartet, with a good degree of success. By this juncture, any talk of rivalry between Ottawa’s Exciter and the likes of Slayer and Metallica had pretty much died down, but the gang has some killer songs here nonetheless.
The album kicks off with Scream Bloody Murder, which is a classic Exciter song with an exceptionally brilliant guitar solo. This is a great way to start any album and from there it is off to the races. Notable songs are the screechy vocals of Rob Malnati, which are almost as, er, exciting as Dan Beehler’s. His screams of banshee were too much for some, but only the Johnny-come-lately of metal denies the exhilaration embedded in them. Songs like Dying To Live and O.T.T. have an odd early Loudness flavour, with the former showing some good riffing action. Ready To Rock, not unsurprisingly, has some hard rock tendencies reminding of the L.A. scene of the '80s, while I Wanna Be King again provides room for a great guitar lead. The speed metal band goes slow on several songs, but fans will find loads of up-tempo riffing on this, as in on any, Exciter album.
Exciter was always heavy, fast, original and neatly tucked in its own corner of the heavy metal scene. This album, surely, is one of those under-rated and underexposed outings that more people should pick up and discover no matter whether looking at classic metal or searching for the origins of the underground. This album, however, has been reissued three times at least and all, except for the original record, feature the tenth track Termination. As such, those who have bought this previously certainly need not do so again unless for the need of a different cover artwork. - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - KILL AFTER KILL - NOISE  
A German manager garnered Exciter a German deal with Noise Records and the band released its sole album for the fading Noise Records in 1992. Noise was still releasing a few good bands’ music. This is before the label would release crap like Gunjah or Shihad and go down the tubes, but the descent had already started by this time. Exciter still had it in them to speed thrash hard while its contemporaries like Metallica, Megadeth or whatever were selling out fast. As it happens, the album that features a returning guitarist John Ricci is a good one. Regretfully, bassist Allan Johnson has departed and is replaced by David Ledden of Kiljoy, the band featuring Dan Beehler during his turn to be absent from Exciter. Confused yet? Don’t worry. It’s not you and there is more where that came from so let’s move on to the meat of the matter.
It would be fair to call Rain Of Terror a galloping thrashing headbanging extravaganza. It has speed, but comes with a hollow sound devoid of bass. It is 1992 and this band is running out of excuses, but good news comes not only courtesy of the extreme metal, but also the production value picking up and improving after the opener. Dan Beehler is hitting the drums hard and screaming metal power so it is a pity the sound by the manager fails him. Manager Manfred Leidecker should not have produced this no matter what his (non-existent?) budget was, but, as said, the sound picks up. Rain Of Terror slows down for a Pounding Metal-esque effect. It is easy to admire the whammy bar at the end. Exciter’s debut album came etched with “In God We Trust.” Here the lyrics reverberate with "... Satan's wrath from the skies Inflicting disease." No Life No Future sounds like Motorhead-ish bash metal on speed. It is a short song with some motoring effects. The mid section jams before it goes fast again, which precedes the bass showing up at the end to do a 1970s Scorpions’ segment. Definitely meandering. Cold Blooded Murder is next, is mid-paced and is where the sound has improved. Smashin 'Em Down is next and is the acting title track. The chorus commanded, “kill after kill after kill…” It is like a more adventurous Motorhead on speed actually. The more one hears it the more one is reminded of Lemmy and crew at their prime. Another notable track is Shadow Of The Cross. It is as slow as Exciter gets. Singing drummer Dan mixes his metal wails with melodic singing. The good Catholic boy sings, “In the shadow of the cross/Good and evil lines get crossed…” Watch for that effective riff. Side B is thick and smashes everything to smithereens.So much so that the closing number Born To Kill tells of “The violence and force will make you bleed…” The record does deliver on its title’s promise after all. - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - BETTER LIVE THAN DEAD - BLEEDING HEARTS  
The live album by Exciter kicks off so thrashing hard that one immediately knows that it will be good. One reservation is the knowledge that the album has been recorded at different venues on different dates putting the listener on guard to see whether the sound holds up. The band would tell you the recordings stem from Canadian dates, but one could swear there is a chant of “zugabe” (‘encore’) on the album, which puts paid to that. Either way, the opening sound is atomic.
Recorded ostensibly in 1991, the album features both the speed thrashers’ better-known cuts like Heavy Metal Maniac, Long Live The Loud or Pounding Metal as well as deeper tracks Delivering To The Master and Sudden Impact. A personal favourite Feel The Knife is omitted. It is not clear where these tracks were recorded, but there is a hunger and ferocity to them. The trio runs through the metallic bats to the head with a straightforward and thick attack bolstered by a chunky sound that is well captured on tape. Several guitar solos deviate from their album version cousins, but otherwise the songs are played without frills or superfluous banter. They may have been omitted on the disc. There is a viciousness there. Speaking of which, singing drummer Dan Beehler cuts it live with honours. The bass guitar sound is present and the guitars exude energy.
As much as this writer is not into live albums, this one is a monster with a surprising sublime power. If this isn't an invitation to attend an Exciter concert then who knows what is? Heavy Metal Maniac!! - Ali “The Metallian”

EXCITER - THRASH SPEED BURN - BLISTERING  
Exciter’s first three albums Heavy Metal Maniac, Violence & Force and Long Live The Loud smoke. These forerunners of speed and thrash (a.k.a pounding metal) delivered all the right notes at the right time and still deliver a punch like no other. A big reason why, however, was the drumming and especially the vocals of Dan Beehler. He was both the frontman and rearman for Exciter. Thrash Speed Burn only retains guitarist John Ricci from the Ottawa speed metallers’ original line-up and that is a big problem for this reviewer personally. Beehler’s banshee screams were just something else.
Thrash Speed Burn, of course, means business. Just look at the title. After almost thirty years of existence Exciter still means business. The newly recruited American Kenny Winter has the right mid-'80s attitude and voice and the music deliberately takes a stab at delivering vintage Exciter, but things just aren’t that, well, exciting. While the speed and heaviness, emphasis on true metal madness (this album is to modernity what Nickelback is to intelligence) and titles like Massacre Mountain or Evil Omen are welcome elements fact remains that the sound production and individual compositions are just not that good.
The title track is a simplistic attempt at formula, although In Mortal Fear amuses with its heavy stance and purely Judas Priest circa Defenders Of the Faith opening. Crucifixion is slower and pounding and has some genuinely powerful riffs, but too many moments on the album seem rehashed and emotionally vacuumed.
Bottom line: It is great to get a heavy album like this from Exciter, although the absence of really qualitative and catchy pieces is a drag on this album. Check out Exciter doing Exciter here, marvel at so many flashes of vintage metal that take one back to the days of Agent Steel and Abattoir, but wonder how good it might have been with Beehler on the mike or a couple more gripping songs. Hail Exciter for staying true all the way no matter what else is said. - Ali “The Metallian”


Interviews
Along with guitarist John Ricci and bassist Allan Johnson, Dan Beehler, drummer and singer, was one of the founding members of Ottawa-based Exciter. The band’s brand of pounding metal was celebrated by metal fans around the globe through the release of Heavy Metal Maniac in 1983 and Violence & Force in 1984. Things looked up for the Canadians until 1988 when the dissolution seemed to bring the band to an end. Unsurprisingly, the band reformed in 1992 and reappeared on the scene with a new album, which was called Kill After Kill. This was when Beehler picked up the telephone and called into Ali “The Metallian” and his radio show, Sonic Disaster.

METALLIAN: Welcome back! Where have you been all these years?
DAN BEEHLER: Well, you know, John Ricci and myself have been doing solo projects. For John it’s been since 1985 and for me it’s been since 1988. Nothing’s really happened for us. People just want to hear Exciter stuff from us. Our solo stuff didn’t really hit it off. There is something about the chemistry between John Ricci and myself that record companies want to hear, you know? After years of frustration and trying other things, this and that, we had it in the back of our minds that we always wanted to do Exciter. So John called me out of the blue after all those years and asked me if I wanted to jam and put it back together and I said, ‘sure.’ We went out and had a few beers, talked about it and went into rehearsal. It was like magic. It was like 1983, 1984 all over again.

METALLIAN: What were those ‘projects’ you were talking about?
DAN: I had a project called Kiljoy and John Ricci had a project called Blackstar and it was very very different from Exciter because after Exciter I didn’t want to go in… I wasn’t singing, I didn’t want to sing I wanted to concentrate on the drums. I wanted to do something completely different because I had done Exciter for so many year. The same with John… both bands were a lot more progressive than Exciter was. Both bands, I thought, were really good. A lot of people thought they were good. Anytime people in the industry, and Exciter fans, heard my name or John’s name it was ‘hey, man. This doesn’t sound like Exciter.’ We just came to the realization that we were stereotyped, but in the end when we got it together we realized that this is where it’s at and this is what we are all about. When we wrote the new album, Kill After Kill, the new Exciter album we didn’t hardly have to work at it. It was, like I said, 1983 all over again.

METALLIAN: Who is in the band right now? What is the line-up?
DAN: The line-up is John Ricci on guitar, myself on drums and lead vocals and we had someone on the Kill After Kill album called David Ledden. He is actually from Montreal. He used to be in Crypt, but he has since left. He was never really a permanent member. He helped us out to do the album and he just did the European tour, but now we have a new guy. His name is Jeff MacDonald and he is a beast. He is great. We are really happy with him. He is more of a permanent member.

METALLIAN: If that is your line-up, what happened to singer Rob Malnati or guitarist Brian McPhee or original bassist Allan Johnson for that matter? Did you ask them back or were they not interested and do you still have contact with them?
DAN: Well, with Allan when John and I put this whole thing back together we wanted the original band and we phoned Allan up. We told him ‘come on back.’ He came to one rehearsal and he wasn’t into it anymore. We practically begged him for about a month and he wasn’t into it. He’s into other things in his life. He really didn’t think it would take off like it did. We respected his decision and got David.
As far as Rob, he was a singer we brought in for one album under the record company’s supervision and choice. We realized it was a mistake because Exciter fans want to hear my voice. They don’t want to hear a lead vocalist. That was kind of a joke. As for Brian, um, Brian is not the original guitarist. John Ricci is. John and I have put the band back together as far as we are concerned and as far as Exciter fans are concerned John Ricci and I are Exciter. Brian McPhee strayed too far away from what Exciter was all about.

METALLIAN: Do I understand it correctly that you are saying you are disappointed with the self-titled Exciter album and perhaps even Unveiling The Wicked.
DAN: Unveiling The Wicked I didn’t mind it too too much. There is some good stuff on there because Allan, John and myself wrote a lot of that album. I didn’t like the production. The self-titled Exciter album that was done in ’88 I thought was garbage. That was a big reason why the band just… dismembered at that point. I’d had enough. It was more or less a Brian McPhee solo album. It was a new singer and just wasn’t Exciter anymore. If you put on Kill After Kill and compare it to Exciter album you can tell exactly where my mind is at. I wanted to do older Exciter material.

METALLIAN: I remember buying the Exciter album in 1988 and putting it on the tape deck and I was really disappointed.
DAN: I don’t blame you, bud.

METALLIAN: I remember telling my brother back then that this band has sold out or something of that sort. Kill After Kill, however, sounds like Exciter is back and nothing has changed. You have retained the energy.
DAN: Well, you know, it’s really strange. I think, to tell you the truth, it’s a combination of John and I playing together. We wrote 99% of the first three albums. When we got together to do Kill After Kill, like I said, we hardly worked on it. We got together and wrote those nine tunes right away, bang, and there was no magic formula, no… we didn’t sit down to listen to the early albums and try to sound like that. I don’t even think we realized what we had done. We went in, just laid them down in the studio and after a while – we were too close to it – we sat back and listened and said ‘yeah, OK’ and everyone started freaking out and said ‘this is the next Heavy Metal Maniac. Holy Shit.’ It is going over great in Europe and we just did a tour and people… we talk to the fans all the time and they ask ‘how did you do it? You wrote the next Heavy Metal Maniac. Kill After Kill is just like the old days.’ John and I look at each other. All we did was go to a rehearsal hall and write songs the only way we know how.

METALLIAN: How would you describe the style of the new album and do you think it is any different than what you were doing, say, ten years ago?
DAN: To describe the style I think it’s straight ahead power metal. We are not a thrash band. We are fast at times. We do speed metal. We also do… our Black Sabbath influences come out at times. We do slower, medium stuff. We just play because of years and years of frustration and anger. At the end of the day, John and I enjoy doing it. We enjoy playing that music. That's the bottom-line. We are not up there doing what we do because we feel we have to. We are doing it because we enjoy it and it comes across that way. I don’t know. What more can I say about it?

METALLIAN: I want to move the line of questioning. I want to ask you about signing to Noise and why the album isn’t out in North America. I hear that the album will be out, but on Sony, which is a surprise to me. Then again, Noise US has gone under. How does that affect you?
DAN: We did get signed very quickly to Noise. The album has been out in Europe since April and we have toured it over there. It’s gone very well, but something happened. Noise US went under and they lost their deal with BMG. The latest I heard was that they were supposed to do a deal with Sony in America and I just heard in the past week that that has fallen through as well so we are not very happy right now with the record company. I don’t want to say too much right now here, but it doesn’t look too good for America. I am not sure when Kill After Kill is going to come out. It was supposed to be out by now so we are not really happy right now.

METALLIAN: Well, surely someone will pick it up.
DAN: We will definitely get it released here, but it’s just a matter of it should have been out months ago. It is a big delay and it is really too bad. I wish it was out now.

METALLIAN: You toured Germany with Rage. How did that go? Did you get along with that band?
DAN: Oh yeah, Rage is great. We became very very good friends. We had an amazing tour with a lot of fun. Both bands ended up watching each other every night. They really got into us and we really got into them. It was a lot of fun. Just for John and I to get back on the road together it really boosted our confidence because when we flew over there we were really afraid of how our reception was going to be and if people remembered Exciter. All of these bleak things are going through our heads, but when we got there we realized there still is a lot of Exciter fans out there.

METALLIAN: That was going to be my next question. Do you feel as if you are starting from scratch?
DAN: Well, we do, you know? We are not doing big arenas or anything like that obviously. We do have to start from the bottom. A lot of dedicated Exciter fans kept coming up to us saying ‘why are you backing up Rage? Why are you opening these shows? You should be headlining’ and all the stuff that people tend to say about their favourite bands, but John and I replied to that with ‘we have been out of the business on a national scale for a long time. We cannot just come back in like a ton of bricks. We have to start from the bottom. We don’t care who we open for. We don’t care how big the stage is. We just want to play and take it one step at a time.

METALLIAN: One hears that Exciter is releasing a live album. What is the story behind that?
DAN: Well, we had some tapes from last year from some local shows that we did and we brought them back into the studio, remixed it, cleaned it all up and took the best songs. There are thirteen songs that are from the fist three albums – sort of a ‘best of’ of what we put down. It is called Better Live Than Dead and it is in the can right now. The album cover is done. We are talking to five different companies that are interested in it. We are either going to get signed or release it on our own.

METALLIAN: Let me get this straight. Does that imply that the deal with Noise was a one-album one?
DAN: No, the deal with Noise was for more than one album, but this live album is material that we had before we signed the deal. We are free to shop it anywhere.

METALLIAN: You are not under contract with Megaforce, are you?
DAN: No.

METALLIAN: Could you compare the scene, as you see it, with the metal scene of ’82 or ’83? What difference do you see?
DAN: It is strange because in ’82 or ’83 there was such a big surge of heavy metal. In ’84 we were playing in front of 1,000 people at the Spectrum in Montreal. We were selling out The Concert Hall in Toronto. I find after being all over the world all these years that Canada has always been behind as far as the metal scene goes. In the last year there is a big resurgence of heavy metal in Canada. With people like Drew Masters of M.E.A.T. Magazine it is hard for Canadians to ignore that there is Canadian metal talent here. We are here and we are Canadian. We have never left the country. It is about time for Canadians to realize the talent is that within the country. It is not as big a resurgence as it was ten years ago, but I think it is turning around.

METALLIAN: How could we compete with the Americans, for example?
DAN: Well, I don’t think we can. We sell more albums in the state of New York than we do in the country of Canada. So you are looking at a population thing. We can do a show in Vancouver and the next show might not be until Toronto. Canada is a big country with not many people if you look at it. If you put us on tour in the States there is no comparison. It’s a population thing, but at the same time there are a lot of people into metal than have been in the last few years.

METALLIAN: When will we see Exciter live here in Montreal?
DAN: I just heard that we are starting a little Canadian tour here in Ottawa actually. It will be in Hull at Roxanne’s. We are going to play a club called Backstreet. I am pretty sure that is in late October or early November so we are taking it back on the road. We are doing this part of Canada anyway and then going back to Europe, the States and there is talk of Japan, but nothing has been confirmed.

METALLIAN: The last word is yours.
DAN: To the people of Montreal: people who are listening who are into Exciter, we are back. The maniac is back. Our new album, Kill After Kill, will be in stores soon. I am sure you can pick it up at Rock En Stock. Come out and see us and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

This interview was originally heard on CRSG cable radio in Montreal.

If you enjoyed this, read Exumer







Exciter