Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

Every time the word classic 80s Metal is used in any article, the first few names that one expects to come across as its true and main representatives are Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath – rightfully so, as these are the bands that managed to break through and become the legends that we all know and love. There are many others, however, which started during the same era as these legends and which never managed to reach the same levels of popularity though being totally committed to releasing good quality music. One such entity is the Ontario-based Speed Metal quartet Exciter – a band whose attitude and approach to song writing has remained unchanged throughout the years and whose tenth studio album “Death Machine” is available for general consumption.

Often labelled amongst the main sources of inspiration to bands such as Metallica and Anthrax, John Ricchi’s (guitars) Exciter have always been known as an outfit whose main attributes are simply crafted heavy riffs and characteristic high pitch vocal performances. These same ingredients that brought to life the band’s classic debut release “Heavy Metal Maniac” back in 1983 are responsible for the creation of these nine new compositions. That automatically suggests that the audience which “Death Machine” is predominantly targeting is very specific and it is the exact same kind of audience that has been keeping this band alive for the last thirty three years! The strange thing about these new compositions, however, is that, though they hold no great surprises, their enthusiasm and honesty make the vast majority of them pretty enjoyable to listen to. Now, if you add to that a very powerful production that does not undermine the band’s 80s sound, then what you have is an album that can satisfy Exciter’s old fans and which can potentially attract all those young Metalheads who often wish that they were born during that great era!

What better way to start this album than with the dynamic up-tempo, riff orientated “Death Machine” – a composition whose simple but catchy refrain is one of its best-selling points? “Dungeon Descendants” is also a pretty straight forward Rock n’Roll sounding piece, but somewhat less impressive, something that cannot be said for the galloping opus “Razor In Your Back” whose massive riffs and less screaming vocals make it one of the highlights of the album. Another old-school but slightly predictable composition is “Pray For Pain” which, when compared to the monstrous doomy riffs of the heart pounding “Power And Domination” comes across as pretty poor in comparison – rightfully so, as the latter is by far the best composition of the album. The three minute up-tempo belter “Hellfire” is another highlight but is sadly followed by “Demented Prisoners” and “Slaughtered In Vain” – both quite decent but also pretty average sounding compositions. For the very end, Canada’s Speed Metal ‘merchants’ have left one of the albums most dynamic compositions, namely “Skull Breaker” – a song with an unusual structure whose first part is based on a massive repetitive/heavy riff while the latter incorporates a much elongated and pretty flamboyant 80s sounding guitar solo.

I cannot claim to know what the inspiration behind the creation of “Death Machine” was, but I am pretty confident that when John Ricci first began working on his monstrous riffs, his main consideration was to please his long-term fans. Exciter are too old and too stubborn to change their ways after thirty three years of existence, but that is really not a bad thing when the result is as rewarding as these nine compositions. Granted, there are moments when what you are exposed to is pretty predictable, however, there are also moments when you feel the hair stand on end. Being a man whose musical education was solidified back in the 80s, I find it impossible not to like this album and yes, maybe I will not listen to it every single day of the year, but when I do, I know that I will be guaranteed a really good time. This is an honest album for people who appreciate simple and honest music – an album predominantly for fans of 80s Heavy Metal, both old and new.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

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Featured Albums w/c 22 June (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 INTELLIGENT MUSIC PROJECT V – Life Motion (Intelligent Music)
12:00-13:00 HOUSE OF LORDS New World, New Eyes (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BEN HEMMING Broken Road (indie)

Power Plays w/c 22 June (Mon-Fri)

SKYFEVER Is This The End Of The World (indie)
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THE BLACK MOODS Sunshine (indie)
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GILBY CLARKE (Golden Robot Records)

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