Beehler – Messages To The Dead

Dan Beehler was, of course, both the muscle behind and the voice in front of Exciter – a band who, at least as far as this reviewer is concerned, never have truly got the credit they deserve for the role they played in the development of thrash metal. Their ‘World War III’ demo remains one of the seminal moments in the genre’s formative years – and it must be remembered that their debut album, ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ predates Metallica’s own ‘Kill Em All’ by several months… admittedly not a great deal of time in the grand scale of things, but important to those who like to argue the bit out about who the founding forces of the thrash movement really were…

But, we’re not here to discuss history, we’re here to talk about the present, and specifically Beehler’s return to action after a not inconsiderable break – it’s almost 19 years since the Canadian jumped the Exciter ship and this is the first recorded output from the drummer/vocalist in all that time.

So, is the legendary thrash innovator continuing to, erm, um, ‘excite’ after all these years? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘not really’.

What we are presented with here is a mediocre thrash album which at times edges itself above the average – but just about. Sure, Beehler’s distinctive high-pitched screaming is still there, as evidenced right from the opener bars of kick-off track ‘Jet Black’, which roars out of the grooves with the velocity of, well, a jet fighter, and everything is played at breakneck speed – some of the drum tracks, such as at the start of ‘Eternal Tormentor’ (one of the album’s standout moments due to its complexity), break the 140bpm barrier, but there’s just something lacking.

Maybe it’s the songs themselves – all fairly standard stuff. Maybe it’s the production – again, fairly standard stuff, if slightly muddy and bass-heavy in places. Maybe it’s the weight of expectation that, after all these years, on of the founders of the thrash genre would come up with something so totally left field and completely re-invent the genre. Whatever it is, the overall result is an album that , when it’s alright its OK and when it’s good it’s, well, alright.

A disappointing 4.5 / 10.

• ‘Messages To The Dead’ is out now on High Roller Records.

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff