They came. They slayed. And close to 24 hours later, my head is still ringing from the brutal sonic assault by American thrash metal band Slayer who shook the KIA Theater in Cubao to its foundations on Wednesday night.
Slayer has always been one to challenge the norm from the imagery of their albums to the lyrics of their songs. And at the Manila concert, the fans got the full Slayer full-bore.
The imagery from the cover of their 12th and most recent studio album "Repentless," with other harrowing art of religious disturbance as designed by Brazilian artist Marcelo Vasco, was given a more frightening and ghostly sheen by the red lights that stabbed like search lights. The manner in which those lights -- that changed hues with every song -- darted and probed, it was like Slayer were searching for prey. And the Manila crowd that packed the KIA Theater fell victim to another brutal sonic assault by these masters of metal mayhem.
From the moment “Delusions of Saviour,” the opening instrumental track of "Repentless," came on and then segued into “Repentless,” Slayer induced voluminous amounts of pain with not much let up.
Lead singer and bassist Tom Araya kept the banter to a minimum. Instead, Slayer’s music did all the talking -- an hour and 30 minutes of a brutal assault on one’s senses from the relentless pounding and booming double bass pedals of drummer Paul Bostaph to the screeching twin axe attack of Kerry King and Gary Holt to the thumping doom of Araya’s bass.
That moshpits and body surfing were not allowed, and that the band walked off after a seemingly short one and a half hour set, did not dampen the feeling that the Philippines witnessed an awesome show. The band raced through their best songs from a 34-year catalogue of sonic brutality that has offended and inspired people from all over. And that greatly whet the audience’s appetite for destruction.
From “Mandatory Suicide,” where fans were exposed to that massive riff that makes you want to headbang, to “Disciple” where the audience got into the song by letting out that blood curling scream of a chorus, “God hates us all.” From the disturbing “Dead Skin Mask” that was written about serial killer Ed Gein to the utterly terrifying “Hell Awaits” that had Bostaph laying down a beat that felt like a thousand skulls cracking their heads on the amps.
Slayer isn’t for the squeamish or faint of heart and with their 19-song set winding down, the four-piece outfit from California, cranked up the diabolic with four other favorites – “Black Magic,” “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood,” and their final song of the dark night, “Angel of Death.”
Then suddenly, without warning, Araya said, “Thank you very much. Good night.” And just like that, the band walked off the stage. The crowd wasn’t sure if they were coming back for an encore. Only when the roadies began dismantling the equipment and handing out the setlists to fans in the front row, did the several thousand folks make a beeline for the exits. And they came out buzzing in equal parts disbelief and wonder, and with their adrenaline pumping.
Such is the intensity of a Slayer show and that the band performed at the KIA Theater – that is fast gaining a reputation as a mecca for mind-blowing shows – it allows for a more intimate band-to-fan engagement. Hence, the amazing experience for a country that so rarely is treated to extreme music.
Slayer came. Slayer slayed. And Slayer conquered.
Now, when will they be back?