Exciter / Asomvel / Bonehunter

New Cross Inn, London on Fri 29th Nov 2019

Something for all the heavy metal maniacs! Canadian ‘80s heavy/thrash metallers are finally coming to London on their European Blast tour! These Canadians haven’t played the capital since the ‘80s so this is a rare show indeed. Unsurprisingly, the New Cross Inn is sold out in advance. This isn’t’ a show any speed metalhead should miss.

The first band of the night is Finland's Bonehunter and the venue is rammed when they take over the stage. Formed in 2011, they rapidly signed to Hells Headbangers Records in time for their 2015 debut album 'Evil Triumphs Again'. Their sound is typical for their record label - punk-infused black/thrash attacks synonymous with the likes of Midnight and Children of Technology. The trio are dynamic on stage, looking appropriately post-apocalyptic with a black line smeared over their eyes to the edges of their face. The music is filthy but not uncoordinated, encouraging a healthy amount of headbanging. Last year saw the release of their third album 'Children of the Atom'. It tones down the black metal dial in favour of more balls-to-the-walls thrash but remains consistent delivering adrenaline-fuelled headbanging mayhem. They do sink their canines into tracks from 'Evil Triumphs Again', such as 'Black Shrine' and 'Acid Fuck', more raw and sinister than the newer material. Closing with the eponymous track from 'Children of the Atom' rounds out this hyperactive performance perfectly. 

Next up is England's own Asomvel, something of a rising star in the subterranean heavy metal universe. They formed in Harrogate in 1993 but only got round to releasing their demo in 2002 and first album 'Kamikaze' in 2009. Their history isn't the happiest one as their original vocalist Jay-Jay Winter passed away in 2010 in a car accident. Now Ralph Robinson provides vocals, the son of guitarist Lenny Robinson, the only original member of the band. This three-piece are not shy about donning their influences on their sleeves. Unabashedly, they possess more than a passing resemblance to Motörhead with frolicking rock 'n' roll guitar and seismic bass sprinting full steam ahead. Unfortunately for Asomvel, there can only be one Motörhead and they lacks any sort of creativity (Ralph Robinson even wholesale emulates Lemmy's look), elevating themselves on the ingenuity of a legend rather than its own musical talents. Like so many modern heavy metal bands, the result is generic and forgettable; these blokes should have switched places with Bonehunter.

The New Cross Inn is completely heaving just before Canadian speed merchants Exciter get on stage. When they do, they are met with a response fit for champions and waste no time launching into the outstanding ‘Violence and Force’, surely one of speed metal’s optimum moments. Drummer and vocalist Dan Beehler does a stellar job at slamming skins and hitting falsettos unflinchingly. New guitarist Daniel Dekay is admirable replacing original axeman John Ricci, shooting riffs that are the perfect love child between heavy and thrash metal. The only negative is the sound; Allan Johnson’s bass overpowers the other instruments and this is a problem that persists throughout the show.

It’s classic-after-classic tonight as the Canadians force themselves through the best hits of their first three albums – a divine speed metal trinity. ‘Stand Up and Fight’, ‘Iron Dogs’, ‘Heavy Metal Maniac’ and ‘Black Witch’ showcase a varied and inspired ‘80s metal act.  Some songs are defiant, others emotive but all with a thriving metal loyalist heart. Riffs are razor sharp and drums gallop without looking back. The stage is far too compact for these metal icons unfortunately but their energy is still limitless, the trio’s performance unaffected by age. Mosh pits are common with a couple of stage invaders squeezing on to the tiny space. Beehler’s banter positions him as a loveable guy, still wholly enamoured with metal after all these decades.

‘Pounding Metal’ on its own is fantastic with its Judas Priest essence but is boosted with a drum solo from Beehler tonight. Ostensibly, this is the final song on the set but the three-piece return for an encore.  ‘Beyond the Gates of Doom’ kicks off the encore, followed by the anthem ‘Long Live the Loud’ before the surprising inclusion of ‘World War Three’, a choice selection from their 1982 demo to appease the diehard fans. It feels like it’s over faster than the average Exciter riff. They leave behind them a great show and judging by the thunderous ovation, tonight’s attendees agree. More Exciter in the UK, please!


article by: Elena Francis

published: 06/12/2019 07:09


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