Since I ended the last report mid-day on Thursday, here is the rest of the story. And just in case you missed it, read up on what happened so far on the Barge To Hell cruise. Also, the YouTube videos which are part of this article were recorded by myself and not randomly found on the internet.
Ok, where were we at? Ahh, Dan went to HeadCrusher while I stayed at the Pool Deck.Notes from Dan:
Man, I really didn't do my homework on the bands. There were quite a few that I've never even heard the name. For most of those bands, it didn't matter; the name or the logo was enough to tell that they weren't for me. But HeadCrusher sounded like they might be a thrash band. A fellow fan at the Barge, who, like me, likes thrash but not retro-thrash, said that there were two new bands he was wanting to see: Havok and HeadCrusher. Well, Havok didn't disappoint, so I figured I'd give HeadCrusher a shot. Having heard they were from Colombia, I pictured some early Nineties deathrash, in the vein of Chile's Torturer [who?].
I was nowhere close. For starters, they weren't thrash, or death metal, or hardly even metal in my opinion. Some call them metalcore; I don't know, not my cup of tea. I guess it could have been worse, for they stayed mostly in the boring "tough guy" mode rather than going for the utterly agonizing tries-to-be-melodic-and-emotional-but-completely-fails crap that is so in vogue.
Since Rotting Christ skipped Colorado on their last US tour, I made a point to not miss them on the Barge To Hell and actually watched both of their sets. While playing mid-afternoon might not be the right setting for a black metal band, Rotting Christ pulled it off with ease and more people finally got to enjoy their music. There were a lot more metal heads present on their Pool Deck performance than the other night at the Spectrum Lounge.
And speaking of the Spectrum Lounge; other than the Pool Deck stage, this was my favorite place to watch bands. Yes, it was the smallest of the three "venues" and some of the "not-so-popular" bands played both of their sets in there, but the atmosphere was just great. Because of the rather small, and low to the ground stage, the fans were right there, up close and personal with the musicians; a much more intimate experience than on the other stages.
Seita, a Brazilian death/thrash band, whose members live in The Netherlands, already started playing in the Spectrum Lounge when I got there. Having missed their set on Tuesday, and after hearing how bad-ass they were, I opted to once again not watch Vital Remains since they played during the same time in the Chorus Line Theater. But I did manage to stick my head into the Theater while they played and there were tons of people there. I actually had the pleasure to watch Vital Remains a couple times this year since they toured and also shared a night-liner with my buddies from Destruction.
And speaking of Teutonic thrashers, and since I actually uploaded two videos of Sodom I might as well put one of them right here.
Back on track here; Seita was all what they were made out to be, and more. Their drummer actually messaged me about why their band is not listed on Metal Storm and did send me all of their vitals and also the latest CD to review. There you go, even the bands make sure their stuff is on our great site.
I didn't stick around for Seita's entire set since there was absolutely NO way I was going to miss even the first note of Possessed, who were scheduled to play on the Pool Deck stage immediately afterwards.
Nobody who calls himself a fan of the death metal genre should pass up the opportunity to watch Possessed at least once in their lifetime. Dubbed the first death metal band by many - if you think it is Death; well, Evil Chuck and Co. moved to California from Florida and therefore were influenced by Possessed and NOT vice versa; so suck it.Notes from Dan:
Years back, when I heard that Possessed had reformed, with only Jeff Becerra left, I wasn't real thrilled. When classic bands get back together after 10 or 15 years, with most of the line-up missing, it usually turns into disaster [see Vendetta (GER)]. Thankfully, Possessed haven't shit on their name by releasing a mediocre [or any] comeback album. [As soon as I wrote this, D.T. Metal told me that they are recording a new album, so I guess I should say they haven't YET shit on their name.] Anyway, knowing that they'd only play the goods warmed me up to the idea of seeing them.
While the Intro of Beyond The Gates isn't as powerful when standing in the bright sun, I knew that soon the legendary death metal assault would begin. It didn't disappoint. What really stood out for me, as on their albums, was the drum work. Emilio Marquez does justice to Mike Sus. I am glad I was able to witness Jeff Becerra once again perform the classics.
Anyway, after breaking up, reforming and the ordeal with bassist/vocalist Jeff Becerra, where he was shot and because of it, paralyzed from the waist down, Possessed drew a HUGE crowd on the Barge To Hell. Shit, a lot of people never had seen them live, me included, and the hype about them proved to be correct. With only two full length albums and one EP it was pretty easy for the band to choose which songs to play and I believe they did a really good job with their song selection.
Of course their major "hit" was the last song and me, after totally head-banging to "Death Metal", was looking for more, but their time on stage was up. Hell yes, this was a kick-ass performance and Jeff seemed to enjoy it as well while rolling around the stage in his wheelchair. And since Possessed is quoted to be THE major influence of some of the other bands on the Barge To Hell, it was to no surprise that shit tons of Jeff's peers were in the audience, enjoying the music just as much as us fans. And on a side note, Jeff's parents were on board as well.Notes from Dan:
For their second show, a lot more people showed up to see Necronomicon. I missed the first several songs, but it seemed that they played the same set. Kind of a bummer, but then again it was a good set, especially considering that most songs were from their last three albums [a fact which, for most Eighties thrash bands still around putting out albums, wouldn't deserve the adjective "good"]. They ended with the first song Freddy ever wrote, "Possessed By Evil". And again, I can't stress it enough, they sound so much better live than on album. The band was recording both gigs for an apparently upcoming DVD; D.T. Metal gave a shout-out in German to the real Necronomicon, so if this thing ever sees the light of day, look for us on there.
Dan hustled to make it back into the Spectrum Lounge to once again watch the German Necronomicon, while I hurried to make it to the conference room for the final media meeting. According to Andy Piller from Ultimate Music Cruise Inc. we had about 100 press folks on board the ship. Holy crap, now I knew there were a lot of us [all media had either red or green wristband] but I had no clue there were THAT many.
Ah, funny story real quick: last night during Bonded By Blood's set, I saw a dude who writes for Metal Hammer hand Mauro a drink, thinking nothing about it, but almost died laughing after I heard the story. Apparently Mauro thought said dude was a member from Sodom and after finding out he was definitely NOT, he back paddled and said: "Well, you kind of look like one of them in their prime" [probably referring to Bernemann].
Once the meeting was over and I was finished grilling Holy Moses about what's next on their agenda, I met up with Dan and we headed into the dining room. We were seated with some German dudes, with one having a Six Feet Under, the other a Hypocrisy shirt on, and I had a Belphegor patch on my bag. Pretty fitting since all three bands were announced and canceled for one reason or another.
Soilwork were already playing on the Pool Deck stage and after checking them out for a minute, we went into the Spectrum Lounge for a bit of Havok. Since all of the bands already played their first set, we just hung out at random stages, mingling with other metal heads and enjoying the shows.
Of course I went to watch Sepultura play a once again flawless set before heading to the Pool Deck stage for the mighty Behemoth. I have seen them tons over the years as well, so it was no surprise that they put on a really good show. Somehow Nergal's vocals seemed off that night, but nobody cared. The strobe lights were ridiculous at times during their set; check out the video below when they played "Chant For Eschaton 2000" and you know what I mean.
After, this time, watching their entire set, it was time for Sodom to take the stage for the last time on the cruise. I posted another video [check out my YouTube channel], but since I was sitting smack center stage, the red lights hit the camera quite often; bummer, but somehow fitting, since the song I recorded was "Agent Orange".
Then the newbie mistake happened. Since I had seen Exodus before and wasn't going to take pictures, I decided to retire my camera for the night and just rock out to the band. And of course, being the last band that night on the Pool Deck stage, Exodus pulled out ALL the stops. They rented some Tuxedos and wore them on stage while playing. Don't fear, not all is lost, I managed to shoot some video of it. They actually played a lot of songs off Bonded By Blood that night and had some guest musicians on stage as well. Tomas Lindberg from At The Gates was singing "Bonded By Blood" with them - pretty fricking cool.
Nachtmystium was unfortunately playing at the same time in the Spectrum Lounge - so I thought. I was walking down the stair and someone told me that they had canceled their gig, when two of the band members came running down the stair and telling us that they will go on NOW. Hmmm, out of respect for the band I won't even comment on their second performance, google it, since somebody probably mentioned it already.
It was early morning by then and we had to be off the ship by 9am at the latest. Apparently a regular cruise was happening and the crew needed to get the ship ready for the new arrivals. The atmosphere was very somber a couple hours later, with lots of hugs, good-byes and stay-in-touch wishes. I met some really awesome people on this cruise and will cherish our adventures forever.
We only missed a couple bands out of the 40, but after talking to some people, apparently those we missed - well, we didn't miss all that much. There is so much to do and see on the ship and sometimes we just lost track of time as well. Anyhoo, here are my top performers on the Barge To Hell 2012:
Final notes from Dan:
Of all four days, the best show I saw was Sodom on the Pool Deck. Awesome. Other good ones were Sepultura, who put on a great show, and Exodus, which was probably the best of theirs I've ever seen. Some notable surprises, for me, were the ENERGETIC Municipal Waste and Necronomicon.
As for the cruise itself, let me start with a little about the ship. It was pretty big, big enough to take a couple days to be able to remember where everything was located. Also, the décor was very pleasant. Having never been on a cruise ship before, I had no idea what to expect. After entering the ship, I looked over the atrium and thought, "wow, this beats all the hotels I've ever been in". But what took the cake was the service. The employees were very friendly, which, I know, they're supposed to be, but it seemed noticeably more so than the typical workers in the service industry. The waiters, in the lounge, on the Pool Deck, and elsewhere, were constantly moving about asking if you need something to drink, and there was a whole swarm of them. Plus there were several bars, and outside the two indoor venues were "mobile bars" at each entrance. There was no way you could get thirsty on this ship.
Now, there were plenty of things to do on the ship, but all I really utilized were the food and the music. For food, I only went to the buffet and the dining room. There was also a Johnny Rockets and a deli [and a few others] that I never got around to checking out. For the upcoming 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, I'll definitely see what the deli has, and maybe even skip the buffet altogether. But the food at the dining room was excellent, and somehow the appetizers and desserts were even better than the main courses. Of course you'd spend a lot more time in the dining hall than at the buffet, but it was worth missing any band over.
For the music, I was truly surprised by how good the sound production was in all three venues. It was loud, but not deafening. Never did I go to bed with my ears ringing, which is a first for a metal show. The sound, even in the lounge, was very crisp and clear; by far better than at the typical club. And somehow it happened that, for most of the bands I saw, I was either in the lounge or on the Pool Deck.
The one downside of it, though, was the audiences. Now, it was on a ship, and there were a lot of Europeans, so I wasn't expecting to see the crazy crowds like in America, where they mosh to practically everything. But I wasn't expecting a bunch of stiffs either. I don't know how the typical festival crowd is, but on the Barge there were a whole bunch of people just standing there, frozen like a deer in the headlights. Now this wasn't everyone, or even most, but there were enough for me to shake my head. If you're going to be a statue, at least sit down or stand in the back, to the side, not in the middle of the dance floor.
But overall, it was a pretty cool experience. I definitely recommend for any metal head to go on one of these cruises, whether it be the next Barge To Hell or the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise. And I stand by my recommendation even if the band line-up is weak; after all, this IS a cruise, there's plenty to do, and plenty places to chill if you don't want to watch the band who is up at the moment.
I can echo what Dan mentioned above and just want to add that during the final press meeting Andy Piller also mentioned the following: People are not just buying a concert ticket; they are paying for an event, and actually about 40% of metal heads on this cruise were returning customers from the 70000 Tons Of Metal ones. UMC is right now considering either giving a discount or starting some type of loyalty program for returning customers.
The reason why the Barge To Hell was not booked to capacity might have been that it was too close to the other cruise [which will be the end of January] or more likely that it was too close to the holidays; so the next Barge To Hell will probably not be in December. But you still have time to be part of the next great adventure. Check right HERE and read all about what 70000 Tons Of Metal 2013 has to offer.
Special thanks go out to Andy and Allison form Ultimate Music Cruise for allowing Metal Storm to be a big part of this inaugural Barge To Hell cruise.
As well as Björn, David and Wolfgang from CMM-Marketing GmbH who did an outstanding job with all the press matters. All of you rule so much, it's unbelievable and I hope we meet again.
Sounded like an absolute blast. glad to hear the service was top notch, figured it could be problematic with drunken heads acting up.
Actually this was the BEST behaved metal crowd I had EVER seen. No drunken idiots, well there was one but he got escorted off the ship in the Bahamas, booked and had to pay for his flight back home but it was his own fault. Seriously, dude just couldn't keep his junk in his pants, LITERALLY now. And Security had enough I guess.
But other than that, there were NO fights, everybody treated each other with respect, NO empty bottles all over the place - It was Fabulous.