For over 25 years, Ottawa’s thrash metal pioneers Exciter have been recording records and touring, despite numerous lineup changes over the years, the sheer numbers of which rival the likes of Guns N’ Roses. Early releases like the 1983 debut album Heavy Metal Maniac and subsequent albums got them worldwide attention but not the level of mainstream success that speed metal peers and pioneers Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax enjoyed.
By 1988, Exciter had gotten four albums deep into its career, a bit more melodic in its songwriting and a bit more mainstream in its overall sound. But it is clear that with its fifth and self-titled 1988 album (aka the O.T.T. CD), re-released through Magnetic Air Records in January (after re-releasing it originally in 1995), this metal band was still capable of kicking out 10 rockin’ and carefully constructed jams, but to mixed results.
Exciter also shows it does not hide from its inspirations from past metal groundbreakers. The name of the band, after all comes from a groundbreaking Judas Priest song by the same name (“Exciter”) and judging by the “you’ve got another thing coming” lyric in opening track “Scream Bloody Murder,” one of the highlights of the disc, Exciter seemingly wants to remind you of the British metal gods lyrically while musically creating its own brand of hard rock/metal. Rob Malnati, the new singer at the time, even sounds like a cross between JP’s Rob Halford, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Queensryche’s Geoff Tate. [That’s an outstanding group of vocalists to be compared to, for sure.]
Unfortunately, other than the aforementioned album opener, “O.T.T.,” “Playing With Fire” and closer, the instrumental “Termination,” with its finger-tapped licks, soaring harmonies, and midtempo metallic grooves, there isn’t much else in the album that could be considered groundbreaking or otherwise memorable material. In addition, this back of the CD says the record was “specially mixed” to be “loud & proud," but on my copy of it, the overall volume of the disc is low and I had to turn my stereo volume up several notches just to get that “loud” sound.
Keep in mind this is not a remixed CD, it’s just a re-release of the 1995 version, which is in all actuality pointless given that Megaforce Records re-released the album as well in 2005. Exciter is a decent album, but clearly not in league with its speed-metal-based early records, and if you already have the Megaforce Records reissue, you certainly don’t need this one.