Words by Marc dela Rama Photos by Daryl Lim and Jezreel Colangoy
The Philippines is a country that experiences two seasons all year round: the Wet and Dry seasons.
On October 11, 2017, Manila experienced a third season: one that brought a different type of rain, characterized by sonic electricity and thunder that exploded louder, faster, and more furious than any thunderstorm could ever dream of creating. This season is known simply as The Abyss, and Slayer was its bearer.
Fire and Fury
The scene inside and outside KIA Theater in Cubao, Quezon City was nothing short of electric. Throngs of Slayer faithful were present in the surrounding vicinity as early as mid-afternoon awaiting the 8 pm set. Inside the concession area, chants of “Slayer” could be heard all around, even up to the top floors of the venue. There were even various starry-eyed fans embracing other people whom they have never even met in anticipation of the band. The concession booth was filled with Slayer memorabilia and even offered “À Tout le Monde” beer, a brew crafted by Megadeth main man Dave Mustaine himself.
Stepping inside the theater 30 minutes before show time, the level of excitement and anticipation heightened substantially. The first sight fans could see entering the main stage was Paul Bostaph’s humongous Yamaha drum kit, and surrounding it, a stunning 25×30 foot back drop that portrayed Jesus Christ weeping blood. The scene could not have been any more surreal with the chants of “Slayer” getting louder and longer as both guitar technicians of Kerry King and Gary Holt were slithering on stage testing sound levels and teasing fans all together by chugging on the strings of the daunting B.C. Rich Kerry King and ESP Gary Holt Signature guitars. With 8:30 pm arriving, so did the Almighty Slayer, and reign they did!
If most soldiers in a war are gripped with fear and terror, Slayer’s “Repentless” is a song to listen to before going into battle as it empowers you with strength that is ten-thousand strong. As an opening song, it blew away every single individual in the venue. The crowd was an ocean, swaying as if a massive tidal wave under a sonic storm of epic proportions. Fans were screaming at the sight of lead vocalist Tom Araya howling out lyrics to “Repentless” while aggressively downpicking notes on his ESP signature bass. Fists were pumping and heads were banging as guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt chugged away at lightning speed to the galloping and overpowering beats of revered heavy metal drum god extraordinaire, Paul Bostaph. Finally, jaws were dropping as both guitar players started trading leads in a manner that only they can. With this, it is safe to say that today, a good percentage of guitar players in the Philippines are considering getting a guitar with a whammy bar.
High-energy and relentless
After bludgeoning the crowd with a few songs, it was time for lead singer Tom Araya, looking all Zen-like with his lion-esque mane and beard, to address the crowd. Fittingly, he did so in a very calm and docile manner as if to signal the calm before the storm. After thanking the fans for showing up, he yelled out words as if a general inspiring soldiers to annihilate the opposition. The crowd responded in kind and the waves of bodies continued to sway to hits such as “Mandatory Suicide,” “Born of Fire,” and “Bloodline”. The band was even nice enough to serenade the fans with their heart-warming ballads “Dead Skin Mask” and “Seasons in the Abyss.” To say we were all in love is an understatement.
As the band performed hit song after hit song, something strange occurred on stage. The gigantic backdrop portraying a weeping Christ suddenly fell and revealed another backdrop featuring the classic Slayer logo completely in the middle of an Eagle atop the Swastika.
Fans knew they were about to experience something special, and this something special came in a performance string of timeless classics: “South of Heaven,” “Hell Awaits,” and finally, the almighty hits “Reigning Blood” and “Angel of Death,” the last of which showcasing that, even at this age and after all the screaming, Tom Araya could still hit that high note scream at the top of the song.
To say that the experience was surreal is inaccurate. There are no words that can describe the feeling and experience “Slaytanics” had on October 11, 2017. The most important takeaway will be the experience and the memory. For this, we have Tom Araya, Kerry King, Gary Holt, Paul Bostaph, as well as PULP Magazine and head honcho Vernon Go to thank for it.
To summarize the experience, the introduction from “Dead Skin Mask” is perhaps the most fitting epilogue this writer can use to describe the experience:
“How I’ve waited for you to come. I’ve been here all along. Now that you’ve arrived, please stay alive and I promise I won’t keep you long. I’ll keep you forever… Forever… Forever…”
All hail the Almighty Slayer!
— PULP Live World (@PULPLiveWorld) October 11, 2017