Despite some of the contributions that EXCITER has made to the genre of Thrash Metal, their eventual fading into the background was coming. Although they were pioneers, they quickly fell into their own rut of writing mediocre Thrash Metal. And since the departure of co-founding member Dan Beehler from the band it’s been even a bigger struggle for them to find their center.
But with the release of “Thrash Speed Burn”, it seems as though the band is finally beginning to find itself once again. Of course there are still some of the problems that have plagued the band for decades but this feels like the band is making progress. And quite frankly, that’s more than I expected.
I’m not sure progress is the right term to use though. “Thrash Speed Burn” is straight out of the 80s (as is most EXCITER music) with its slightly poor production values and its excessive writing style. So expect to hear quick riff shifts, shred like soloing, lots of group chanting, and the like. Unfortunately, the album never strays far enough from the ABC’s of 80s Thrash to truly make it a classic but it does offer a solid release for the band.
But of course, what is a new EXCITER album anymore without brand new members? And this time around is the premier of Rob Cohen on bass and Kenny Winter on vocals. Of course, these guys seem to fit right in with the band (I’m not sure if guitarist John Ricci would have it any other way) and they both do a pretty good job. The bass is pretty audible on the release and he does a great job with it to keep a lot of the music grounded in structure. Mr. Winter brings in his jolly good 80s high pitched wailing to the band but his performance is a little dated for today’s audience. Older fans are going to enjoy all (and there is a lot) of his extended notes but his voice isn’t quite strong enough to carry this album out of the ‘nostalgia’ factor.
It’s still a good album for the band. “Thrash Speed Burn” has EXCITER moving in the right direction with their song writing and their presence in the Thrash Metal world. If they could keep a stable line-up (preferably this one since this is their first step) it would help themselves get their song writing up to speed. This album still is a little too nostalgic and weak to be a true comeback for the band – but it’s good to hear them progressing.
Songs to check out: “Thrash Speed Burn”, “Evil Omen”, “Massacre Mountain”.
(Online December 2, 2008)