Heart of Steel: Concert Reviews

Jarrod's, Attleboro, MA / September 14th, 2001
Review by Ultra Boris

Yeah, I went to the Exciter show. And (this applies for an overwhelming majority of you) - YOU DID NOT. You are a pathetic loser that deserves to have a squid inserted into your inner ear.

But anyway, after a borderline hilarious incident getting lost, we made it to the show (we = Craptic Reign and I) and despite being 2 hours late, we got there before the opening band even set up! I met (finally) Eric from Candy Striper Death Orgy, and also Local Bootleg Gods Jim and Brian. I got an Exciter t-shirt and made it to the front for the opening band, which was Bad Karma.

BAD KARMA - they played about 6 songs total, they were pretty good power metal in the vein of the last few Riot albums but thrashier... their drummer is Stu Dowie who was in Meliah Rage in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This band doesn't sound much like Meliah Rage but they were pretty good. Unfortunately I forgot the song titles, and failed to grab their setlists, so I don't know what any of their songs were. These guys got the most support of the night - a lot of the friends of the band turned up. There were about 80 to 100 people in the audience for them. Again, pretty decent power metal and worth seeing. * * * 3/4

RED RIGHT HAND - Next up were Red Right Hand, who were labeled as thrash/speed, but they sounded more like a Cowboys era Pantera, not bad at all, except their guitar was too soft in the mix and the bass too loud, making their riffs less distinct - they had good riffs, just didn't present them well. Their lead singer, Chris Kozdra, looks like Rob Halford, and sounds nothing like him. His stage act involved walking around in circles and grimacing and attempting to poke a hole in his skull with his fingers. I met him and bassist Rob Leo after their set at various points. I managed to snag a copy of the setlist off the stage (my new hobby) and got Chris's autograph on it! Whoo hoo! The songs they played were:

Good Day to Die
(I Don't) Need You
Embrace Me

The setlist also mentions "So Still" but they didn't have time for that due to the set running long... I think those are the correct titles, the setlist only has abbreviations for the song titles (i.e. Good Day to Die is listed just as Good Day, I just remember Chris announcing the full title.) Anyway, they were quite good, though again their guitar needs to be louder in the mix! * * * *

After the Red Right Hand set, I met speed metal guitar God John Ricci, the founding member of Exciter and the genius behind most of their songs... I got my "Blood of Tyrants" t-shirt signed, and requested they play "World War III" but they didn't... oh well. Doesn't usually work to request their second most obscure song! (Yes, I consider it more obscure than "Death Revenge", but less obscure than "Sail On"!) Next up was... 


CSDO: Eric with drummer Mike Justian

CANDY STRIPER DEATH ORGY - saw these guys open for Overkill a few months back - they kicked ass then, and they kicked ass again today. They're extremely riff-oriented thrash... the riff consistency and changes of Beneath the Remains era Sepultura, with the actual construction being more along the Nuclear Assault line. Great set - no lead guitars, since Eric Paone (guitars/vocals) was constantly playing riff after riff! No printed setlist - Eric kinda winged it but the song titles I remember are "(NTC) Nuclear Termination Cycle", live staple "Holocaustic", a Nuclear Assault cover ("Radiation Sickness"), and an instrumental version of "Megaton" since Eric mentioned that the lyrics that he had made up a few weeks earlier were too similar to recent world events, so they were going to leave it an instrumental. They played some others, but I forget the titles. These guys kick ass - they're full out thrash metal!! The bad part is, the crowd had dwindled to about 40 by this point. * * * * 1/2

So after that, the people had started really filing out... so here is where my obligatory rant of the day comes in. So let me get this straight, speed metal legends EXCITER play Boston for the first time in their 22+ year careers, and about 100 people show up. That's bad enough... but it turns out most of them are here for the opening band - and don't get me wrong, for once the opening band didn't suck, and that is my point exactly. The opening bands were all METAL, and if you like metal then you will like EXCITER!!! I mean, these are fucking metal GODS, a total throwback to the time when men were REAL men, and little beady eyed furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL little beady eyed furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, and EVERY ONE, men and furry creatures alike, played on eleven. They turned it up so their neighbors could hear it too - here is a band from that bygone glorious era before the sample DJ and the three extra percussionists on garbage cans defining what the general world thinks of as "metal" (yeah right.) These people were METAL. These were the guys that started it all - the guys that the people in the opening band looked up to and worshipped for inspiration - and when they took the stage, the members of Bad Karma and all their friends were... where? Who knows, but not banging their heads off to EXCITER, that I'm sure of. Poor pathetic souls - at least the members of Red Right Hand and CSDO stuck around... but a lot of their fans left, and they missed out on one Hell of a show. End of rant.

So yeah, by the time Exciter took the stage there were like 15 people in the audience. Pathetic. It took all the challenge of getting to the front, but I was there anyway...

EXCITER - so they took the stage sometime between 11 and midnight, and I do not exactly remember when. The stage lights were turned down and they started out with a tape of "Warcry", which is the intro to I forget which of their albums, (yeah I know, I'm a sucky fan!) Then they launched into "The Dark Command", which is of course the title track to their 1996 comeback special album. The lead vocals were almost inaudible through the first 2 or three tracks, unfortunately, before they fixed them up. But of the people that were there, at least everyone had the sense to sing along to at least the chorus. The next song was from their latest album, Blood of Tyrants, and was "Rain of Terror", and then they played "Stand up and Fight", which is of course from the very first Exciter album, Heavy Metal Maniac. By this time they had managed to get the mike fixed up so lead singer Jacques Belanger was quite audible. He did a masterful job leading the crowd - pretty much he's a 100% heavy metal frontman. John Ricci is of course a metal guitar god, and he played the part, with lots of flourishes and madcap soloing.

Next up was "Rule With an Iron Fist" from Blood of Tyrants, and luckily most of the crowd knew the lyrics - the crowd was small, but at least it was completely loyal - no occasional hangers-on, this was all real fans all the time. They then played the classic "Heavy Metal Maniac" in full ass kicking style like it was still 1983, and then "Burn at the Stake", which is from The Dark Command. They really mixed up the old and the new, managing to leave out the forgettable middle period... next up was "Brutal Warning", another Blood of Tyrants song.

Next up was the cool guitar solo "Ritual Death", from the Long Live the Loud album - yes, a real live authentic guitar solo, complete with facial grimacing and everything - not only Yngwie J. Malmsteen has guitar solos anymore, fortunately. It may not have been the most absolutely technically mind blowing thing ever, but it was nonetheless very very good - again, John Ricci is a speed metal God. Yeah. Then of course they played "Victims of Sacrifice", and then "Pounding Metal". Next up was "Martial Law", then "The Rising of the Dead", and "Long Live the Loud", and they finally closed with "Violence and Force". The setlist actually listed "I am the Beast" as the last track after "Violence and Force", but they didn't play that... they had to be off the stage by 1, unfortunately. So they got cut short... which kinda sucks. But they totally and completely kicked ass - a very good set list that only was missing "Cry of the Banshee" in my opinion - and "World War III" of course, hehe... from the first demo and the U.S. Metal 2 compilation from 1982. Oh yeah and the crowd was unfortunately small. Did I mention these guys are speed metal Gods? The crowd was enthusiastic, and every member played competently - John's guitar tone was very very good, the best of the night. The only problem was that the vocals were just a bit too soft. Marc Charron on bass and Rik Charron on drums completed the set - Marc was cool enough to look up at me for a brief second so I could take a picture of him! Rik was an animal on drums, and I couldn't detect any overt mistakes by any of the band - they played practically flawlessly, and their stage show was also remarkably cool. At one point during "Violence and Force", John bumped into Jacques, but he kept playing...

So yeah, they kicked ASS!! As much as Overkill? Not quite... but definitely close. I would've gone and seen them today too, except unfortunately today's show was 21+. Oh well... they rule!!
* * * * *

So that was the end of that, they herded us out like cattle and we disappeared without further incident. Overall, an awesome show - I mean, none of the bands required me to hurt them due to their excessive suckage, the only bad thing was the size of the crowd. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SPEED METAL LEGENDS, YOU PATHETIC FOOLS!!!!!!!

Lead singer of Exciter, Jacques Belanger Marc Charron, bass player of Exciter

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