Switchblade Manila: ‘Eager bastards’ of rock and metal launch first EP | Inquirer Entertainment

Switchblade Manila: ‘Eager bastards’ of rock and metal launch first EP

/ 09:40 PM June 20, 2018

Switchblade Manila onstage at 70s Bistro

Vocalist Bok Arcilla perform on stage at the 70s Bistro on May 26, 2018, with (from left) guitarists Dax Labiano and Arnie Baluyut, bassist Jay Flora, and drummer Gilbert Martinez. This photo was taken during the launching of the band’s EP, “If Looks Could Kill.” (Photo courtesy of ANGELO ROXAS)

Right from the crash of the first chord of “Eve,” the first track and carrier single of recently launched EP “If Looks Could Kill,” you get an inkling of where this band, Switchblade Manila, is coming from.

And as you run through the rest of the seven-song EP, you realize the band draws mainly from straight up rock and metal.


The band readily admits, through its publicist, that its members are “eager bastards” of rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal – having been influeced by groups playing those genres from the 70s to the 90s.


If you spent your teens in any of those decades, you can easily relate to this EP.

As Switchblade Manila lists in its Facebook page, the other bands its members like are Led Zepellln, Van Halen, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, Velvet Revolver, Guns ’N’ Roses, and Skidrow.

The songs in this EP – with most of the music collectively composed by band members – are heavily driven by riffs crunched out by guitarists Dax Labiano and Arnie Baluyut, with a solid pulsing bottom pumped up by bassist Jay Flora and drummer Gilbert Martinez and soaring melodies delivered by vocalist Bok Arcilla.

They’re the type of songs you’d play in your car on a long trip to keep you awake – headbanging on the highway.

Two of the two slower cuts is “Over You,” with lyrics by Labiano, a rock ballad, which for some reason made me think of “Crazy” by Aerosmith. At least for me, they evoke the same vibe, sounding both like a kind of “my girl’s leaving me” wail.

Here’s the part of “Over You” leading to the first chorus:


I don’t want it to end like this
My heart is broken
And it takes a lot of time to fix

I’ll hold you, I’ll kiss you
I want to be the man for you
I know it’s too late to
But I can’t get myself over you

The other slow cut is called “Home,” labeled as a “bonus track,” with words and music by Labiano.

This was recorded live, with Arcilla singing backed by Labiano on acoustic guitar and Allen Alesna, who co-produced the EP with the group, on keyboards.

The ballad is in the same vein as “Over You,” a lament on the loss of a lover:

I’m fallin’ to pieces, wounded alone
Wonderin’ if I can still go on
And I love you to the deepest oceans of hope
My memories of you still chasin’ me home

The EP title, by the way, comes from a line from “Eve”: “If looks could kill, this is a murder scene.”

And the band slays the other – faster cuts – in the EP: “Eve,” “King of the World,” “Recurring Nightmare,” “Stuck,” and “Sita.”

Not only does the group sound good on CD, but they also proved they could sound as good playing live – which they did during the SRO launch of their EP last Friday, May 26, at the 70s Bistro in Quezon City.

Band members honed their playing by doing gigs in various clubs, mostly in Quezon City, since drummer Gilbert Martinez and guitarist Dax Labiano founded the group in September 2016.

At the start, they managed themselves. It was only in November 2017 that Meisha Loucel Borres Cantillep took over as manager, at about same time that original guitarist Jules Bautista was replaced by Arnie Baluyut.

Cantillep – who incidentally also sings as half of What Box, a duo she formed with Labiano – was one of the backup singers on “Sita,” the sixth cut on the EP.

According to Cantillep, she found so many bands named Switchblade – at least 40 the last time she checked on Google. So the band called itself Switchblade Manila.

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For more details about the band, you can check out its Facebook page, where you can also order a copy of the EP for P250. /atm

Switchblade Manila

Switchblade Manila manager Meisha Cantillep (fourth from left) shares the stage with band members (from left): guitarists Dax Labiano and Arnie Baluyut, drummer Gilbert Martinez, vocalist Bok Arcilla, and bassist Jay Flora. This photo was taken during the launching of the band’s EP, “If Looks Could Kill,” at the 70s Bistro on May 26, 2018. (Photo courtesy of ANGELO ROXAS)


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