Exciter (1980-1988, 1992-1993, 1996-present): a Speed Metal band from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
xciter started life under the name Hell Razor in 1978 with Dan Beehler (vocals/drums), John Ricci (guitar/vocals) and Alan James Johnson (bass/vocals). In 1980 they changed their name to the same as the Judas Priest track of the same title (released the same year of this band's founding) to produce a high-octane heavy metal sound with a definite 1980s feel. Due to the strength of their 1982 demo, their Heavy Metal Maniac album followed in 1983. The year before the original demo had been sent to Mike Varney of 'Shrapnel Records', who included one song from it, World War III, on his compilation album US Metal Volume II. Shortly after that Exciter was signed to 'Shrapnel Records' and the aforementioned debut album resulted.
This set was enough to get John Zazula's 'Mega Force Records' to rip them away from their past endeavors and sign to release Violence and Force (1984), and then tour with Accept for their European gigs in support of the follow-up Long Live The Loud (1985) on 'Music For Nations'. But Unveiling the Wicked (1986) saw them face criticism for moving away from the style of their previous recordings. It was also a set featuring Brian McPhee replacing Rucci, with Rob Malnati taking over the vocal slot after the release in an attempt to shake off the criticisms.
Exciter's self-titled album (also known as O.T.T.), released on the Canadian 'Maze Music' label, followed in 1988. But despite this change and the subsequent harder edge that resulted, the Kill After Kill (1992) follow-up on German 'Noise Records' label still failed to improve their standings and the act took some time off.
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Featuring Dan Beehler (drums/lead vocals), John Ricci (guitars) and David Ledden (bass; who replaced the short employment of Jeff MacDonald) with the previously recorded song Born To Kill the act returned in 1991 on the compilation album Capitol Punishment and their subsequent releases of the live effort Better Live Than Dead (1993).
In March of 1996 a new line-up was announced consisting of John Ricci (guitar), Jacques Bélanger (vocals), Rik Charron (drums) and Marc Charron (bass). John Ricci and Jacques Bélanger knew each other from previously playing together in a band called Blackstar in 1985/86. Noteworthy is that the two Charron's were not related. The new line-up played a few well received shows in Canada before releasing the albums The Dark Command (1998) and Blood of Tyrants (2000). Blood of Tyrants proving to be a heavier and more aggressive effort than its predecessor, The Dark Command. In the fall of 2001, Bélanger left the band due to "creative differences". A year later, Marc Charron quit to pursue a career in the technology industry. Their slip from view then continued.
Their best of... compilation (titled just as "Best of") followed in 2003 on 'Osmose Productions' and was followed by New Testament - Coven of Re-recorded Classics (2004; compilation of re-recorded classic songs) featuring the line-up of Jacques Belanger, John Ricci, and Rick Charron.
Indeed, 2003 was a year that saw another line-up change making the band consist of Ricci and Rick Charron, along with vocalist Rob Degroot and bassist Paul Champagne. This line-up lasted until March of 2003 when Rob Degroot was dismissed after failing to adopt the Exciter-style. As his replacement former vocalist Jacques Bélanger stepped in. The bass spot would once again flip hands in 2004 with Rob Cohen (a.k.a. Clammy).
Annihilator head Jeff Waters negotiated to get the rights to most of Exciter's catalog from the former labels to get them a new deal to re-release these titles, re-mastered and including new booklet inserts with comments from the original 3 band members, as well as additional photos.
In 2006, shortly thereafter their visit to Germany, Bélanger left again due to irreconcilable differences. By October he was replaced by Kenny "Metal Mouth" Winter, from Brooklyn, New York.
In 2007 Exciter played only one headlining show, that being Toronto, Ontario, Canada in August due to the intense rehearsal and recording schedule involving a weekly 23-hour trek from NYC to Ottawa by Kenny Winter.
Twice delayed in December 2007 and again in January 2008, the tenth album, Thrash Speed Burn was finally released on March 4, 2008 worldwide.
In 2014 there was another band line-up shake-up leaving John Ricci as the only original member and adding Dan Beehler (vocals/drums) returning along with Allan James Johnson (bass). Death Machine (2010) would follow.
Footnote: Exciter are widely considered to be one of the first speed metal bands (along with Anvil who formed also in 1978) and a seminal influence of the thrash metal genre. Speed metal eventually evolved into thrash metal.
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