Exciter is a Canadian speed metal band from Ottawa, Ontario, formed in 1978. Named after a song by Judas Priest, they are considered to be one of the first speed metal bands and a seminal influence of the thrash metal genre. The band was heavily influenced by a variety of music styles, including Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Rush, Jethro Tull and Grand Funk Railroad. Despite many changes in personnel, as well as two breakups (first in 1989 and again in 1993), Exciter has managed to keep a small but dedicated following over the years.
|Also known as||Hell Razor (1978–1980)|
|Origin||Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
Allan James Johnson
|Past members||John Ricci|
Kenny "Metal Mouth" Winter
Rob "Clammy" Cohen
In 1978, the band Hell Razor formed in Ottawa, Ontario. It consisted of vocalist and drummer Dan Beehler, guitarist John Ricci, and bassist Allan James Johnson. In 1980, the band changed their name to Exciter and recorded a demo which they then sent to Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records. Varney included one song from it, "World War III", on the compilation album US Metal Volume II in 1982. Shortly after that, the band was signed to Shrapnel. In 1983, they released their debut album, Heavy Metal Maniac.
Later that year, Exciter signed a record deal with Jon Zazula's Megaforce Records and, in 1984, they released their second studio album, Violence & Force. After a few opening dates with fellow American thrash metal band Anthrax, they embarked on their first U.S. tour with Danish heavy metal band Mercyful Fate. Exciter switched to a new label, Music for Nations, and traveled to London to record their third album, Long Live the Loud. It was released in 1985 and produced by Motörhead producer Guy Bidmead. It contained a slightly more "mainstream" heavy metal sound than the pure speed/thrash metal of the first two albums. After its release, the band went on a European tour with German heavy metal band Accept. At the end of 1984, Exciter was the support band on one of the US legs of the Motorhead No Remorse Tour; the following year, it was the headliner in a tour with Megadeth. Before the year ended, Exciter released the three-track EP, Feel the Knife, which was the last release from the original line-up. Shortly after its release, John Ricci left the band and was replaced by Brian McPhee.
Along with a new guitarist came a new, more melodic sound. The band's fourth album, Unveiling the Wicked, was released in 1986 on the Music for Nations label. After its release, the band went out on a successful European tour with Motörhead and American power metal band Manowar. It was decided at this time that Dan Beehler (who had handled both drums and vocals since the band's inception) would not sing anymore. New vocalist Rob Malnati was hired, and made his debut on the band's self-titled album (a.k.a. O.T.T.). The album was released in 1988 through the Canadian record label Maze Music. A Canadian tour followed, but by early 1989, the band had broken up.
In 1991, Exciter re-emerged with Beehler on lead vocals again. John Ricci also returned to the band. Bass duties were handled by new bassist David Ledden. The band's first recording with this line-up was the song "Born to Kill" which appeared on a compilation album titled Capitol Punishment, which was released in 1991. The same year, the band went on a reunion tour in Canada, which would largely be focused on songs from their first three albums. The band's first live album, Better Live than Dead, which was released in 1993, had been recorded during their reunion tour at this time.
In 1992, the band signed to German metal label Noise Records and recorded their sixth album, Kill After Kill. The band went on a three-week European tour with Rage to support it. After the tour, the band disappeared for a second time. It would be three years before they would be heard from again.
In March 1996, an almost completely new line-up was announced. Ricci was the only returning original member. Jacques Bélanger was the new vocalist and Rik Charron and Marc Charron (no relation) would handle drum and bass duties respectively. The new line-up played a few well received gigs in Canada before recording a new album, The Dark Command. The album was released in 1997. With one of their strongest albums in years, the band went out on a European tour with fellow Canadian heavy metal band Anvil and American thrash metal band Flotsam and Jetsam.
Between 1998 and 2000, the band was basically dormant with only two festival appearances in the two-year span. The summer of 2000 saw the release of the follow-up album to The Dark Command, Blood of Tyrants. The new album was heavier and more aggressive than its predecessor. 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.
At the beginning of 2003, a new line-up was announced, with Ricci and Rik Charron returning along with new vocalist Rob Degroot and new bassist Paul Champagne. This line-up only lasted until March 2003 when Degroot left. His replacement was former vocalist Jacques Bélanger. In 2004, Paul Champagne was released from the band. The band recorded their ninth studio album, New Testament, with Ricci on both guitar and bass. New Testament is somewhat of a compilation album of re-recorded classics from throughout the band's entire career. Later that year, bassist Rob "Clammy" Cohen joined the ranks. The year ended with the band heading out on a European tour with Swedish power metal band Steel Attack.
Annihilator mainman Jeff Waters was able to get the rights back to most of Exciters' catalogue titles from the old labels and get them a new deal to re-release these titles. As well, Waters re-mastered these titles and new booklet infos, including comments from the original 3 band members, as well as additional photos were added to the re-releases.
In 2006, Exciter played Keep It True VI in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany. Shortly thereafter, Bélanger left again due to irreconcilable differences. He was quickly replaced in October that year by Kenny "Metal Mouth" Winter, from Brooklyn, New York.
The band played only one headlining show in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in August 2007 thanks to an intense rehearsal and recording schedule involving a weekly 23-hour trek from NYC to Ottawa by Kenny Winter.
Twice delayed in December 2007 and January 2008, the band's tenth album Thrash Speed Burn was released on February 22, 2008, in Europe, and on March 4, 2008, worldwide. It has since garnered positive reviews from many a European fanzine.
The band's first European show for the tour, with the current line-up, saw their debut at the Atarfe Vega Rock Festival in Granada, Spain. Coincidentally, it also marked Exciter's first ever appearance on the Iberian Peninsula.
In February 2014, it was announced on the band's official Facebook fan page that guitarist John Ricci had decided to leave the band, departing Exciter and leaving the band with no original members. In April 2014, Ricci began claiming that the retirement statement was false, however the former band members maintain that at the time of the press release, the information it contained was accurate.
The original Exciter line-up reunited shortly after and will play their first European show on April 25, 2015, at Keep It True Festival and played in March 2015 at the Defenders of the Old Festival in New York. A new reunion album was planned for 2019, but is in question after the departure of John Ricci. In October 2018, Daniel Dekay was announced as the replacement for John Ricci. The band is expected to release their first album in over a decade in 2022 or 2023.