"Messages To The Dead"

By Dr. Abner Mality

I don't think you could find too many bigger Exciter fans than me. "Heavy Metal Maniac" was the record that turned me on to underground metal after years of mainstream acts like AC/DC, Foreigner and Kiss. The first three Exciter records hold a very special place in my heart.

I was really looking forward to the first record from Beehler, the band named after the legendary former screamer/drummer Dan Beehler of Exciter, of whom little has been heard these last 25 years or so. Exciter without Dan Beehler has been a hit and miss proposition that has never really recaptured the power and majesty of Exciter with Dan Beehler.

I have to say, I get the same feeling from Beehler. Something is still missing. The album is very raw and heavy, not too far in feel from "Heavy Metal Maniac", but the very unique guitar sound of Exciter's John Ricci is not present. Ricci's style is  instantly recognizable and nobody has yet duplicated it. Beehler guitarists Scott Walsh and Sean Brophy do a serviceable job but don't bring their own identity to the music. As for Beehler himself, it's great to hear his high pitched screams shattering windows again, but he alternates his more typical vocals with a kind of gravelly grumble that just doesn't convince. The songs here are fast, heavy and raw in old Exciter tradition, but sometimes seem clunky and don't flow smoothly. Slower pounding bits show up at awkward times and sometimes interrupt what seems like a good thrashy flow. Opening track "Jet Black" is  the album's best, although "March of Death" and "Destroy" give it a run for the money. Others like "Destitude Abuser" (?) and the ho-hum instrumental "Megalodon" just don't seem as convincing as classic Exciter.

"Messages To The Dead" will provide a quick, satisfying fix for Exciter fans, much like modern day Exciter itself does, but doesn't come close to surpassing the likes of "Heavy Metal Maniac" and "Long Live The Loud". I really think it's time for Dan Beehler and John Ricci to bury the hatchet, call up Allen Johnson and bring back the real Exciter. These guys need each other.