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Exorcist – Nightmare Theatre (Reissue)

Nightmare Theatre (Reissue)
by Mark Machlay at 11 July 2021, 7:10 AM

High Roller Records is continuing its mission of re-releasing underground metal bands and records from the 80’s that may have a new shot in the 2020’s. This time it’s a band called EXORCIST and their one and only album “Nightmare Theatre”. Originally released in 1986, the term “band” is used very loosely as this was more a project made by a group of musicians that was never meant to tour or show their faces in any way. For years, the underground metal world was confused by the record as the band itself seemed to appear from nowhere, there were no band photos, and the member’s names that were listed were obvious pseudonyms, sparking rumors of who the band really was and giving in to much speculation. It would be many years before the rumors began to take on an air of truth that the entire project was simply a studio project helmed by frontman Dave DeFeris and bassist Joe O’Reilly of power metal group VIRGIN STEELE. This was one of three records DeFeris was tasked with creating at the insistence of the now defunct record company Cobra Records to cash in on the wave of extreme metal.

Because of the collapse of that record company “Nightmare Theatre” would never see a proper cd release outside of some bootleg masters derived from vinyl records. In 2016, High Roller Records re-released a 2 cd deluxe edition featuring 3 different versions of the album including an entire remix but DeFeris also agreed that it was time to re-release it on vinyl for its 3rd pressing as well. DeFeris claims that, “for the past several years I have been receiving an average of three to four offers a month from various labels wanting to re-issue the album. This time the offer came at the right time. I have re-mastered the entire album.” The album is an interesting slice out of a time of burgeoning genres for metal and was one of the few times in the genre’s history of a band using pseudonyms to hide their true identity.  It also represents a strange time in which bands became a bit more experimental in style and substance, giving rise the black metal, death metal, and bands such as GWAR and Green Jellÿ.

One can see why EXCORCIST’s “Nightmare Theatre” both gained a lot of notoriety due to the anonymity of its members and mystery behind their formation. But despite the re-mastering, it can also be seen by the less than stellar production of the original tracks that the record would remain an underground record, only earning cult status among some circles. There are songs like “Black Mass” and “Burnt Offerings” that swarm with wonton energy and overt attempts to appear scary and evil that sound silly when compared to modern bands like SLIPKNOT, LUCIFER and, hell, even GHOST sounds scarier and more occult than these ham-fisted attempts. But there are attempts at pushing extreme metal genres in new directions like the black metal infused “Death by Bewitchment” that bring up images of MAYHEM and VENOM but don’t quite get there. But then there are absolutely hilarious attempts to appear evil with “Riding to Hell” and the indulgent closer “Spin Your Head Around Backwards” with its backward masked guitar ripe for conspiratorially minded individuals that think there are messages buried in metal music. I personally view it as an interesting relic of the past and stepping stone for extreme metal and am glad that it is being re-produced for the historically minded but not something I would indulge in.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Black Mass
2. The Invocation
3. Burnt Offerings
4. The Hex
5. Possessed
6. Call for the Exorcist
7. Death by Bewitchment
8. The Trial
9. Execution of the Witches
10. Consuming Flames of Redemption
11. Megwatt Mayhem
12. Riding to Hell
13. Queen of the Dead
14. Lucifer’s Lament
15. The Banishment
16. Spin Your Head Around Backwards
Jamie Locke – Bass
Geoff Fontaine – Drums
Marc Dorian – Guitars
Damien Rath – Vocals & Keyboards
Record Label: High Roller Records


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Edited 17 August 2022

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