EXCITER – Heavy Metal Maniac (1983)
Review by Estelle in December 2013
- The Holocaust
- Stand Up and Fight
- Heavy Metal Maniac
- Iron Dogs
- Mistress of Evil
- Under Attack
- Rising of the Dead
- Black Witch
- Cry of the Banshee
Genre: Speed Metal
Label: Shrapnel Records
Date: January 11, 1983
Dan Beehler – Vocals, Drums
John Ricci – Guitars
Alan Johnson – Bass
After one demo, the brilliant Canadian speed metal band Exciter released their first full-length album in 1983 – the year of changes. From that time there were new bands forming every week, from that time bands started to play more aggressive music, from that time brutality, speed and rivalism was in the center of metal music. Thrash metal was born, and was on its way to the top.
However, Exciter didn’t consider themselves a band that plays thrash metal, moreover they also said that they aren’t particularly fans of that kind of music. Dan Beehler mentioned in some of his early interviews that Exciter considers their music more like power metal (don’t forget that the expression power metal had a different meaning back then than it does now in our days). The vocals aren’t as aggressive, the songs (after their debut, Heavy Metal Maniac) aren’t as fast, and the sound itself isn’t as raw as a thrash metal band’s.
After the short but sinister intro the album actually starts with the fast and violent ‘Stand Up and Fight’, its main riff alongside the title track is full of energy, these two songs here at the beginning are so intense that I would be satisfied even if these were the only good songs on the album. After the powerful beginning we got the bit longer and slower ‘Iron Dogs’ which is still an impressive song with probably the best solo from Ricci. Then here comes ‘Mistress of Evil’ with an alive and memorable riff, and the heavy and fast ‘Under Attack’. The album doesn’t leave us any time to breathe, it rolls onwards like a massive yet alive stone: the next track is the probably most ‘classic-like’ ‘Rising of the Dead’, the riffs, the cuts and the whole song are amazing and easily memorable. After the shiny daytime of the album here comes the night, or at least the evening part: the beginning of the song ‘Black Witch’ seems to be a bit out of control, with a less well-worked-out ballad composition, but then fortunately the rhythm turns into an absolutely thrashy excellent instrumental performance. The last song of the album is the also intense ‘Cry of the Banshee’ which is filled with good riffs and spiritful vocals, especially at the middle part of the song.
We can clearly see the main features and intentions of Heavy Metal Maniac: putting as much violence and speed into the music as possible, completed with solid but fairly worked-out guitar lines. The listener can also easily notice Exciter’s attitude and passion towards the music they are playing; and even though they are not exactly professionals of their instruments, it isn’t only the passion that takes forward the hands of the musicians throughout the songs: the members also managed to stay precise and strict, each beat, each part of each song is strong musically (except for maybe the first part of the song ‘Black Witch’).
The riffs are quite simple but perfectly enough to have and keep our attention, and we also have some sweet solos here, just like in ‘Iron Dogs’, in ‘Rising of the Dead’ or in the title track.
The production of the album is weak unfortunately, although maybe this is what gives the listener an even more ‘metal-feeling’ when he or she is listening to it, along with the pureness and dirtiness of the music itself. The album is so smooth and ‘whole’ that it always continues like the blood is flowing in our veins – fluently and lively.
Dan’s vocals totally match the music and the production, they are raw, although sometimes, at the right places we can also hear some melody in them. We shouldn’t expect much from the lyrics of metal music that was made in the early ’80s in my opinion, the album mostly consists of songs that only sputter us some evil words and suggests us an ominous, frightening feeling. But considering how good is the album as a whole and how good are the songs in themselves as well, maybe this one thing is forgivable.
What is for sure is that Exciter’s Heavy Metal Maniac certainly is an essential and epoch-making debut of ’80s speed and thrash metal music, and additionally, it’s just as enjoyable to listen to nowadays as it was in 1983.
Outstanding tracks: Stand Up and Fight, Heavy Metal Maniac, Rising of the Dead