Exciter - Heavy Metal Maniac

Exciter - Heavy Metal Maniac

Exciter - Heavy Metal Maniac

(1983, Shrapnel Records)

“…Going to make you sweat,
Going to make you burn
Heavy Metal thunder’s rising fast
You got to take your turn…”

If you strictly look at release dates of some albums during 1983, you will see METALLICA’s “Kill ‘Em All” debut was out in July, SLAYER’s “Show No Mercy” first LP appearance hit the streets in December and EXCITER’s “Heavy Metal Maniac” opening album was unleashed in June. So, impale me alive if this isn’t the first Speed/Thrash Metal release of the most edgier – at the time - subgenre that was ready to rule the world in the (some) years to follow. It’s a shame that EXCITER did not get a greater recognition with their further 80s works and there are some logically good reasons for this to happen, but there’s no explanation why “Heavy Metal Maniac” should not be considered a highly bombarding and influential LP, even if EXCITER was not a strictly ‘Thrash’ Metal band.

The Canadian trio took the same more or less influence from the British jar as their US contemporaries: BLACK SABBATH, JUDAS PRIEST, VENOM, MOTÖRHEAD, TANK and SAVAGE. The main difference from the other outfits that were building what was soon entitled to become the Thrash style was that this diabolic team stayed loyal to Metal’s musical spine and just pushed velocity and wildness to extremes rarely known till then while staying 100% Metal to the bone. Meaning: razorblade riffs with a twisted repetition, lunatic solos with a special sense of savage melody, pounding bass and drums lines that leave no space for the neck to rest and some screaming from-the-gates-of-hell unique vocals that still sound – after 30 years – extreme and untamed. It was Dan Beehler (vocals/drums), John Ricci (guitars) and Alan Johnson (bass) that set the fire some 30 years ago, a fire that still burns if you let yourself travel to the sonic mastery of this take-no-prisoners album.

Furthermore, if the production in “Kill ‘Em All” was youthful and street-NWOBHM-on-45-rpm orientated while “Show No Mercy” flirted openly with the dark pits of hell, “Heavy Metal Maniac” was the underground garage aesthetics mixed with the ‘strictly Metal’ mix raising the guitars high so as no change was visible to escape banging your head around for some 38 minutes of heavy/speed/thrash menace and peril. It’s no wonder no single band ever dared to repeat this ‘retro’ sound and mix in the years to follow until the classic Metal revival we now see the last years or so brought EXCITER back as a high influence of bands that play over-the-top Speed Metal with the absence of lame leads and sweet vocals. Funny thing still is that EXCITER themselves was never (approximately) put to rest: the band still exists, has released 10 albums to date and even if the trademark skills of Dan Beehler are long now not around it should be said that: i) at a time when classic Speed Metal was off the mainstream radar it was albums like “The Dark Command” (1997) or “Blood Of Tyrants” (2000) that kicked ass and showed a band willing to struggle to keep the Metal flame alive, ii) EXCITER has proven to be so narrow minded that there’s little to mention as ‘changes’ or ‘progression’ or ‘maturity’ in these 30 years of their existence. Yes, they/we are prejudiced and biased, have us crucified…

The whole “Heavy Metal Maniac” package lives and breathes Metal. From the a-w-e-s-o-m-e album cover to the song titles, from the pounding rhythms to the shrieking singing, from the ruthless lyrics to the underground mix, this is an LP you definitely need to have in your collection if you consider yourself a Heavy Metal fan. Maybe the best Canadian Metal band ever? I feel it’s useless to write anything more, in case you are not convinced so far…



01. The Holocaust
02. Stand Up And Fight
03. Heavy Metal Maniac
04. Iron Dogs
05. Mistress Of Evil
06. Under Attack
07. Rising Of The Dead
08. Black Witch
09. Cry Of The Banshee


Dan Beehler - Vocals, Drums
John Ricci - Guitars
Alan Johnson - Bass