By Joey Dizon
“We are Death Angel. We are from the San Francisco Bay Area. And Manila, we play thrash fucking metal!”
Shivers immediately went up my spine as vocalist Mark Osegueda of Death Angel screamed into the mic, electrifying the venue and the thrash metal faithful who showed up that evening. This was the show many of us had been waiting for. No frills, no ballads, just three of the genre’s most-revered names live in the flesh. They were on a friendly quest to outdo each other in speed, volume, glorious sonic riffage, and sheer brutality.
Death Angel provided a strong start for the Manila leg of The Bay Strikes Back (their fifth time in the motherland). The band left no doubt in the minds of Filipino thrash fans that they remain the best in the game. Guitarists Rob Cavestany and Ted Aguilar were perfectly synchronized. Bassist Damien Sisson and drummer Will Carrol showcased their rhythmic foundation of ground n’ pound beats, proving they’re the best in the business. As the band launched into “The Ultra Violence / Evil Priest,” screams of approval roared, and the circle pits began.
They followed with vintage DA tunes like “Mistress of Pain,” “Voracious Souls,” and my personal favorite, “Seemingly Endless Time.” The band also delivered recent favorites like “The Dream Calls for Blood,” “The Moth,” and “Humanicide.” Though the set was short, Osegueda made it memorable with quips like “Tangina! It’s brilliant to be back in Manila—we are excited, humbled, and proud!” The set concluded with “Thrown To the Wolves,” reaffirming the band’s top-tier status.
The air thickened with anticipation as Manila first-timers and celebrated thrash icons Exodus took the stage. They did not disappoint. Their set was raw, unrelenting, and recklessly impressive. Drummer Tom Hunting’s tireless delivery of 16th note patterns set the pace, while guitarists Lee Altus and Gary Holt showcased their skills. The mosh pits ignited with even more rage as frontman Steve “Zetro” Souza powered through songs like “A Lesson in Violence,” “Toxic Waltz,” and “Bonded By Blood.” The show seemed to get louder, with fans in denim jackets continuing to scream and mosh. Souza and the band powered through, including the intro of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and concluding with “Prescribing Horror.”
By the time Testament took the stage, the Skydome crowd was primed and ready. The band, consisting of vocalist Chuck Billy, guitarists Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick, bassist Steve Di Giorgio, and drummer Chris Dovas, proved they were still in top form. Their sound was powerful, with Di Giorgio and Dovas adding precision and brutality to the mix. They wasted no time, delivering hits like “Rise Up,” “New Order,” and “Preacher.” Skolnick’s lead guitar was a consistent highlight, while Chuck Billy provided the perfect thrash-approved banter. The finale, “Disciples of the Watch,” had fans cheering and screaming in approval for the historic moment in Manila.
The Bay Strikes Back came at a crucial time for the genre in the country. The world had paused for over three years, and some thought the genre was no longer formidable. While it wasn’t a sold-out show, the evening’s energy and passion were a testament to heavy metal’s enduring presence. Fans of this genre form a strong, dedicated, and tightly-knit community. This might be music for outsiders, but the flag will always be raised, and the torch will continue to burn bright for fans. As for those who missed out? We’re doing just fine without them!