Exciter

Death Machine

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One of the original speed-cum-thrash metal bands of the early '80s, Canada's Exciter enjoyed a modicum of success before running out of ideas, succumbing to endless inner strife, and then giving in to plain old poverty by the decade's close. Sporadic resurrections yielded consistently crappy records throughout the ‘90s and 2000s but a relative sense of stability did not resurface until original guitarist John Ricci managed to wrest creative control of the group once again, and miraculously held onto the same lineup for 2008's Thrash, Speed, Burn and its 2010 successor, Death Machine, two years later. Ricci also found a central theme around which to whip his new songs into shape -- literally -- and so Death Machine contains a snuff film's worth of unrepentant torture and stomach-churning sadism, as evidenced by the likes of "Dungeon Descendants," "Razor in Your Back," and "Power and Domination." Naturally the musical backdrops for such horrid and torrid tales had to be just as violent and intense, and so even the least uncompromising slabs of new millennium thrash found here (e.g. "Pray for Pain") cast a slower vocal delivery against a diamond-edged wall of buzzing guitars and double-kick drums. Also telling for a band named after a Judas Priest song, the album's opening title track sounded suspiciously similar to Rob Halford and company's British Steel classic "Rapid Fire" after being fed through a patented "Painkiller extreme-ification kit" (though strangled chicken/frontman Kenny Winter is perhaps more of an Udo Dirkschneider than a Halford). In any case, one has to admit that Death Machine -- like your average unexpectedly ghastly and gruesome sight -- is near impossible to look away from, and certainly one of Exciter's most cohesive and engaging albums since those long-gone glory years. Who says coming in with lowered expectations can't lead to pleasant surprises now and then?

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