Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Desecravity in Manila 3.18.2012

On March 26th 2012, my mom turned 75, and as a dutiful son I was expected to be in Manila for the occasion. 8 days before that, though, Japan's Desecravity were scheduled to play the city, and since their South East Asian tour skipped over Malaysia (most great things do), I decided to book my flight around the show. It was also my chance to see Mass Hypnosia and Pus Vomit, two Filipino bands that I'd been hearing about for years from my buddy Ian (the Virgil to my Dante when it comes to Pinoy Metal).

We missed the opening band Mothership (who played the last show I saw in Manila), but arrived in time to see Death After Birth. According to my friends, they were death metal OGs (and longtime peers of Ian's band Brimstone in Fire) before evolving into a doom metal band. And they doom well, in a gruff Euro kind of way. They included a Tiamat cover in their set, so clearly they haven't left their extreme metal roots far behind. Someone should send a tape to Rise Above now that Lee Dorrian's got some time on his hands.

Pathogen play Carcass-style goregrind, though sadly without the clever wordplay. The PA wasn't kind to them, reducing the guitars to a low rumble that was washed out by the drums. Solid stuff, but I can't see them edging Impaled or General Surgery out of my iPod any time soon.

I was excited to finally see Mass Hypnosia since Ian declared their Attempt to Assassinate album the best local release of the last decade. High praise indeed. As a live act they're venomous in a way that their recorded output only hints at; their set that night (featuring mostly new material) was utterly bestial. Imagine Merciless and Beneath the Remains-era Sepultura brawling over Kreator bootlegs. Fucking awesome. Hopefully they can capture that intensity on their next album. Or fuck it, just release a live EP.

Early into their set, Desecravity's frontman intoned menacingly, "Hello, Manila. Desecravity is back." This was the second time the band played the Philippines, and if the anticipation beforehand was anything to go by, the 2009 show was quite an introduction.

Their label Willowtip would have you believe that Desecravity exist in the same headspace as Krisiun and Origin - well, Malaysia's biggest Origin fan begs to differ. If anything, Desecravity are an Asian Cryptopsy - a whirlwind of technical insanity built around Yuicho Kudo's rapidfire drumming. Tellingly, the drums took the longest to set up, and even a minor cymbal problem temporarily derailed their set. Despite a few equipment hiccups, their professionalism and experience shone through, and the audience responded accordingly (and adoringly).

Usually any band that plays after the headliner serves as walk out music, but Down From The Wound ignited the crowd and overshadowed the rest of the bill with their blistering Suffocation-style death metal. "Didn't I tell you?" Ian grinned at me between songs. Even Desecravity's guitarist Keisuke was in the front row, headbanging furiously before eventually being hoisted up by the crowd and carried around the room.

I was eager to see how Pus Vomit would follow that, but they were forced to cancel due to a member's illness, and were replaced at the last minute by Discreate. With a stripped down line up of just a singer, guitarist, and drummer (power trios are under-appreciated in extreme metal), their set suffered both for its late hour and proximity to the similar (and better) Down From The Wound. The band and a few remaining patrons ploughed gamely on at the late hour, but I'll admit to suffering death metal overload and was content to enjoy their set from outside.