WAR ENSEMBLE - A Tribute To Slayer
by Vro

Date: March 29, 2003
Venue: ARDZ Billiards (Philippines)

Probably the best offering from SPITFIRE Prod to date, Christian Velasquez really had an excellent idea of organizing another gig to which all bands must pay tribute and play some covers from the almighty SLAYER on their set. It is indeed that every metal head and bands here in the Philippines are listening and influenced by the aggression and violence that SLAYER had forged since the early 80's. And even though the bands played well or screwed-up on those slaytanic tunes, it's still a great show to watch. Honestly, the venue is quite disappointing to me because of the billiard tables, but anyway the show must still go on. The crowd is really changing now compared to the last gigs SPITFIRE had organized, many people now are getting crazy, head-banging and really participating to the energy and adrenaline that every band is delivering, and that includes me with Roel Morres of Tripalium Zine, Nonoy Padrejuan of The Scene Zine/Paganfire and Alex Duma of Murlock/Dead Reckoning Zine shouting in the front row, head banging, air punching and singing along with those killer SLAYER tunes.

The show started of with a young band named SULTAN. As far as I know this band came from the same city I'm living, in Caloocan and they mostly play early modern metal with the likes of Chaos A.D. Sepultura. They first blasted a Gillan era Black Sabbath tune "Zero the Hero" and kind of imitate the Cannibal Corpse version. At first the band is quite tame in their stage presence but when me and Nonoy enters the bar and bang our heads and punching horned metal sign on the air in front of them and shouting the chorus lines, SULTAN suddenly adrenalized and bang their heads also, even the vocalist do the horned metal sign at us. Then after that they play their Slayer tunes. I can't remember the Slayer songs they play but I think "The Antichrist" and "Altar of Sacrifice" are included on their set. I must say that SULTAN is not that tight as the other bands but they really capture the feeling of the song they play which is more important than being so tight but with no feeling. Hell, this is a live performance so it's normal to have some mistakes. Probably more rehearsals and stage presence this band will be tight as hell besides the vocal sound is really good and alive, nice one on SULTAN camp.

BLOODSHED setup their instruments after the SULTAN set. Well, these guys played a really tight set with their Slayer covers along with Sepultura, Sodom and At the Gates cover. I think the Slayer tune they play is "Postmortem" which is really heavy and tight. I really don't like their Sodom and At the Gates cover, it's pretty much overdone on BLOODSHED set playing these songs but I'm pretty impress and blasted by their cover of Sepultura's "Primitive Future". It shows how good and tight when playing is concern when we talk about BLOODSHED. Jojo is a tight vocalist and his presence in singing is really good along with his trademark moves and helicopter hair headbanging. The guitarists and drummer are good as well. I just hope that Bloodshed will soon work on their original material and release a demo because honestly, they are wasting their talent and time being just a cover band, if you want my advice, don't be a full-time cover band show to us what really BLOODSHED is made for.
The third band to play is RAGE OF ISCARIOT who also features Christian Velasquez as vocals. Rages of Iscariot totally change everything on them. The keyboard player is now handling the bass and there is no more silly and cheesy corpse paints. If their trying to re-format Rage of Iscariot and just be a metal band, they are truly heading for good. Their opening song on their set is a cover from Kreator, "When the sun burns Red". It was a good set and I think blasting only two songs on their set is not enough. Anyway they close their set with Slayer's "War Ensemble".

The time for PAGANFIRE had finally arrived. Well to tell you the truth I felt disappointed because honestly we are more-tighter on our previous rehearsals than on our actual set. I don't know what's in Nonoy's mind commanding "Curse the Gods" to be our sound check because we had agreed the night before that it will be "Outbreak of Evil" but anyway it's just a sound check. We open the set with the Slayer's "Hell Awaits" it's seems that every goddamn metalheads in attendance knows this song and they are shouting, clapping, insulting etc. on us. The second song we did was "Sodomy and Lust" very few know that but it's a great song that every metalhead should seek out. The second Slayer tune we did is "Kill Again" many don't know this song or probably can't recognize, there are some who asks if that is an original one. We close our set with our favorite song, "Nuclear Winter". The intro part is totally fucked-up, but we manage to have a steady beat after.

After I enjoy playing on our set, the next band is the ultra-boring GUARDIAN CRUCIFIX. I always get bore when I watch these guys, I can't feel the power, the adrenaline is absent and even the band it self looks like they are not enjoying what they are doing. I' rather order a round of beer with my DETVASTATOR bassist Mark. Mark watched their set, but me I'd rather have a good time with my friends at the back where we took some photos, gave some copy of my zine to the people there. My only advice to these band, if you can't be metalheads don't play metal at all. I met former GUARDIAN CRUCIFIX Edward, he is out of the band now but he still manage to check his former band mates, but Edward, to tell you honestly you really had a great move, because to be out in GUARDIAN CRUCIFIX is really a great decision.
The next band is another boring band named TOMB, there is a line-up change due to the absence of their vocalist. Their bassist handle the vocal duties but still it's not a great set. The only thing that set my interest to check this band is their drummer because his really good. "Killing Fields" had a crushing drum patters and TOMB's drummer manage to had a steady beat. And also that guitarist Philip is a good one. But anyway, if you are playing Slayer songs, or you consider yourself death metal band, you guys should be intense and had a good stage presence. Don't be like GUARDIAN CRUCIFIX and let your spirit of being metal (if there is) burst out. There's nothing wrong to bang your head, to get crazy and be intense. Remember what Paul Ballof said "Bang your head as if up for the dead, Intense metal is all that you need".

After that two boring set from GUARDIAN CRUCIFIX and TOMB, INCARION ignited another adrenaline that makes the crowd in the front row crazy. Their opening set is "Raining Blood" which makes us in the front shout, sing, air punch and banging heads. There's a new line-up also with the presence of two guitarists, they are the guys of TOMB and I doubt if they are official members or just there as sessions. If those two guitarists will be official member, I'm not pretty confident if INCARION can have killer set like the old days when Unlight and Lucifernicus is still in the band. Anyway, they also play two original songs which also available on their "Blasphemiak demo" which very few know and their set is supposed to finish but the crowd requested another song, someone shouted (I think it's Nonoy of PAGANFIRE) "War Ensemble" and they play that song. INCARION's set is good and I hope its succeeding appearance on future gigs would be more killer.

END OF MAN really surprises me because someone inform me that some members are from MASS CARNAGE they had a mysterious vibe in front and as the instruments are set-up the vocalist introduced himself as ex-DISCANT X member and open their set with a DISCANT X cover. For me, their set is the best that night, playing a really heavy and intense old school trash/crossover that makes everyone in front fucking crazy. The front man is a real performer and the only front man who doesn't do growling or screeching vocals but he is probably the best that night. He even have those whacky stage banter which makes everyone laugh. I saw Fin of RESSURECTED banging crazily, I use to watch RESSURECTED then when they sound like this but from the previous gigs they are becoming more lame and tame, please bring back the real RESSURECTED sound Fin like "Race War", "Reprodestruction" and "Coumoflauge". Anyway, END OF MAN continue thrashing the night with their songs and ended their set with Slayer's "Postmortem" and "Raining Blood". We are shouting for more songs but END OF MAN really finished their set and unplugged their instruments. Me and Roel Morres (Tripalium Zine) rushed to talk to the front man and gave him our flyers, if this guys are doing demos expect them on the future issue of local zines like METAL HAVOC, TRIPALIUM, THE SCENE ZINE and DEAD RECKONING.

Not only Manila bands are there to thrash and pay tribute to Slayer, Laguna hordes MURLOCK and EFFLUVIUM are also there to play. After that killer set from END OF MAN, the guys of EFFLUVIUM set-up their instruments. EFFLUVIUM open up their set with their Voivod-ish track "Chernobyl" which is available on the new demo CD "Behind the Shadows". That song really trashed the crowd and very few know that it was their original song. They also blasted another original which is available on their new demo and Willie (guitar/vocals) promoted their demo to the crowd. They did the Slayer track "Black Magic" which is not that tight but still heavy and good and also that Iron Maiden one "Killers" is not bad at all. They ended their set with a CANDLEMASS cover with guess appearance of Alex Lexicon of MURLOCK/DEAD RECKONING Zine doing vocals. It was an entertaining set and Alex presence is something to be watched out.
After EFFLUVIUM's set it's the long awaited MURLOCK set. Fucking Alex is really energetic and very metal, they opened their set with their original and our favorite "Nuclear Fuck". Alex is really different that night, he really had this evil aura and their second song "Burn with me" is what death metal is about. Vic is really a tight drummer and energetic even on his EFFLUVIUM set, this guy is very good and probably if he will practice his craft more, he will be more killer. Alex called Willie of EFFLUVIUM to session on guitar for their next song. It's the Slayer classic "Live Undead" and that is really a good one, they ended their set with the song that makes everybody fucking crazy, it's a cover from KREATOR entitled "Terrible Certainty", man if you're only there you're see how killer this band, everybody is singing, banging and air punching, the intensity is very metal and killer. I can't wait for MURLOCK's material to come out but lets hope it will surface.

After the MURLOCK set, some of the people are leaving and I don't know why and If they think they are satisfied with what they witnessed with the early bands that played, they are wrong because the last band that played has a crushing and grinding metal set. The band is EXTEME RESPONSE, I think me and Roel Morres of Tripalium Zine is the only headbanger in the front but to tell you the truth their set is one of the best second to END OF MAN. They play mostly BRUTAL TRUTH covers and I can't really remember if they play Slayer tunes. After their opening set, I shouted "Do you believe in God", the bassist answered with his growling sound "I believe in myself", I was fucking energized when he answered that, these guys truly worshipping BRUTAL TRUTH's "Extreme Conditions demands Extreme Responses" album. The front man is really abusing his throat singing and their dual vocals with the bassist is really a killer one. I was really getting crazy when they played "Walking Corpse" and I will really try watch out these band in the future if ever they will release a demo.

The gig is finally over and it's well anticipated and well executed, we just hope this will happen again and lets make it more killer and memorable. I don't want to point out everything because I really enjoy the gig and not really observing some things there. I would like to congratulate SPITFIRE production with the success of the gig, hail to the bands that participated and make their set good and to all the crowd who attend and watched the gig from the start to finished. Just see you all in the next gig. 

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