70000 Tons Of Metal - the world's biggest heavy metal cruise; been there, done that, survived and living to tell the tale. Holy.Crap.This.Was.Fun. But before I get to the actual event activities, here are some organizational facts about this third installment of the cruise:
55 nationalities were represented on the Majesty Of The Seas which is operated by Royal Caribbean International. Oh, and the reason the cruise is called 70000 Tons Of Metal is because the gross register tonnage (GRT) of the boat is 73,941.
For a complete list of those 55 countries check the 70000 Tons Of Metal homepage, but the Top Ten were (in order): Germany, USA, Canada, Finland, The Netherlands, Mexico, Australia, Belgium, United Kingdom and Colombia. And according to the cruise organizers UMC, this was the first time that Germany surpassed the United States as far as attendance. YEAH!
Number of guests: 2037 (age range from 1 to 71)
Musicians and crew: 466
Ship crew: 892
Total number of people on board: 3395
36 % females
8,000 to 10,000 gallons of beer were consumed a day; with Corona and Foster's being the top two choices of brew. At this point I would like to add that I am proud to report that I somewhat contributed to the amount of Corona being chugged down. Yes I know there are way better beers, but since I also needed to make sure I would stay hydrated, I opted for Corona.
So, now that this is out of the way, shall we begin? As some of you might remember, I was also present for the inaugural voyage of the Barge To Hell cruise this past December. And while that one was more of an extreme metal event (mainly death, black and thrash bands), the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise is more of a smorgasbord with bands from all sorts of music genres performing. Anything from Columbian and now residing in Seattle rawest black metal two-piece Inquisition to Germany's metal queen Doro was represented on the billing.
6 of the 8 pool girls
Since the Barge To Hell cruise was something new in 2012 and the voyage was right before the busy holiday season, back then the ship was not booked to capacity and I actually enjoyed the lesser crowd. Now for 70000 Tons Of Metal 2013 I experienced a SOLD OUT cruise and let me tell you; it does make a huge difference in regards of the overall concert and party atmosphere. And - now this following statement should not be considered as sexist, since after all, I am a female - but the amount of "babes" was considerably more than on the other cruise. And while the addition of the official "Pool Girls", sporting exclusive Toxic Vision swag, was neither here nor there, those ladies sure contributed to my above statement.
Oh yeah, and there were bands playing as well.
To start things off, the speed/thrash/power veterans Helstar brought their A-game and reminded me WHY I do love this genre so much. Frontman James Rivera still has what it takes to capture the audience. The man was also a complete hit throughout the cruise with his participation in the ever so popular karaoke singing at one of the lounges. Unfortunately I couldn't stay for their entire performance since another band was starting their set in the Chorus Line Theater.
I actually opted out to see them on their last North American tour since all but two members of the band recently left. Yap Sabaton, with singer Joakim Brodén and bassist Pär Sundström the only original members left, I didn't know what to expect, but they didn't miss a beat and were just as entertaining as before. And a huge bonus, for me at least, was that Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate) was behind the drum kit since their now drummer's wife apparently just had a baby.
Setlist: "The March To War", "Ghost Division", "Gott Mit Uns", "Carolus Rex", "40:1", "Cliffs Of Gallipoli", "Poltava", Karolinens Bön", "Art Of War", "Primo Victoria", "Metal Crüise".
Notes from Dan:
By the time I made my way over to the Theater to catch Sabaton the show had already started, and the place was packed. Having never seen them, I can't say if it made much of a difference that three of the band members (including both guitarists) are brand new. Nonetheless, they put on a truly great show. Action-packed would be the way to describe it. And though Joakim Brodén already stands out as a singer [the only comparison I can think of is Grave Digger's Chris Boltendahl], he's even better as a frontman. It is that which puts the band, and their live performance, on a higher level.
As an example: at the end of one of the songs, when the crowd was chanting "Sa-ba-ton", Joakim stopped them and said that, as there was limited time, it'd be a lot more efficient if he would call the audience "boat" and they would call the band simply "band". And for the rest of the show, after a song he would say "Thank you boat" and the audience would reciprocate. It was pretty funny to hear the audience chanting "band, band, band", something which Joakim pointed out would be great if they chanted that for the other bands as well.
Off to a quick dinner we went, skipping Delain and made it back to the Theater just as Nile was playing their second song. I haven't seen Karl and Co. in a while and actually stayed for their entire gig. Nile is - well Nile; you either like them or not, and over the years I came to actually like more of their stuff than not. The same with Flotsam & Jetsam who played at the Spectrum Lounge right afterwards.
Then it was time for the band I was most excited to see on the cruise; Helloween. Also playing in the Chorus Line Theater, since the Pool Deck stage actually didn't start until 12:30am, they put on a hell of a performance - once they finally did start playing. There were issues with the drum kit and it took somewhere around 30-40 minutes to get this resolved. Hence, the following bands and the start of the Pool Deck reunion show of Metal Church was pushed back as well.
Notes from Dan:
And finally it was time for Helloween, who was one of the must-see for me. Or rather it was supposed to be time. They had a big delay, but unlike some (hopefully drunk) people who I could swear were booing(!), I didn't mind. The same thing happened on the Barge To Hell with Sodom, and 40 minutes is nothing compared to the 2 ½ hours of two months ago. Well, the problem wasn't entirely fixed by the time they started playing, and I heard several people complaining of the drums. Maybe I was just really stoked or in the music, but I didn't really notice it.
And while it was worth seeing, as much as it pained me, my reaction to the show was lukewarm. Now this was more to me being a fanboy than of any faults of the band. The guys were great, from the spot-on shredding of axemen Weiki and Sascha to the stage antics of bassist Markus Grosskopf. But Helloween are kind of like Judas Priest. They have a bunch of decent commercial hits that the general metal fan enjoys, and then the rest of their discography which blows those "hits" out of the water. But with only an hour to play, the "hits" far outnumbered the killer rest that they could have played.
And in Helloween's case, several of those "hits" were originally sung by Michael Kiske. Not that Andi Deris isn't great (he is), but their styles of singing are just so completely different that, when I hear him singing those tunes from the Kiske-era, the final verdict will always be "it just isn't the same". And I say this of Kiske too; "Starlight" and "Victim Of Fate" don't sound right without Kai on vocals. Also, the fact that half of the set list (5 of 11) were from the Keeper albums didn't help; and a drum solo in an hour long set seemed a little questionable as well. While for just about any other band it wouldn't matter much, for Helloween I walked away a little disappointed, and could think of no other reason than their set list. (Check the picture of the set list in the gallery; they played all of the songs except "Steel Tormentor")
I managed to check out Lizzy Borden at the Spectrum Lounge, and nope - all American metal and such but still not my cup of tea. The follower Threat Signal had such an unfortunate time slot that I have no clue if people were even present during their show. First they were supposed to play during Metal Church but due to the pushed back schedule they then played during DragonForce.
So the next band on my schedule was actually DragonForce who I really haven't seen in a long ass time and while I always liked ZP as their frontman, the new vocalist does fit somehow better to the band. I also remember Herman Li being much more active, adventurous and flat out funny with his guitar, but I have to say this time it was an overall pretty boring performance. While the guys still belt out awesome tunes, the stage show somewhat lacked in appeal. Oh well, the crowd really got into them but I opted to head over to the pool and have a quick beverage before the first Pool Deck Stage band would start.
Metal Church, wow, another band from the Eighties who had such an impact on the American metal scene. I was fortunate enough to have seen them a couple times live before they called it quits in 2009. Other than that this was a reunion gig it was also very special since the cruise guests had a chance to vote on the set-list (for the result please click here). Metal Church did not disappoint and put down a flawless performance.
New DragonForce vocalist
Notes from Dan:
When the running order for the cruise was finally released, I laughed at seeing the Pool Deck start so late. It started 2 ½ hours later than on the Barge To Hell, I guess to ensure that there would be no delay. That there was a delay, but this time caused by the Chorus Line Theater, completed the joke. But anyway, opening up the Pool Deck was another band I was really looking forward to see: Metal Church. I last saw them after their second (?) reunion (the one when Ronny Munroe was introduced) in 2005.
This latest reunion consists of the same members when the band broke-up a few years ago. And though I haven't been keeping tabs on the band since, well, '05, I was glad to see Ronny back; he seemed the right choice back then, and he still impresses me. Metal Church was, as expected, pretty awesome. Good classic metal, played solid. As a bonus, the set list was chosen by the cruisers. Pretty cool idea, and one which 70000 Tons Of Metal organizer Andy Piller said would be continued for future cruises.
Afterwards, lot of people headed back to the Chorus Line Theater to watch Tiamat and while I actually went there as well for a minute or two - dude, seriously, did not like them. So I ended up going to the Spectrum Lounge to watch some good 'ol American made death metal, courtesy of Mr. Ross Dolan and his outfit Immolation; now that I liked. Actually it was very surprising on how many bands that started in the Eighties were on that cruise, but hey, no complaining here.
Heading back to the Pool Deck Stage I ran into tons of people whose faces were painted red and black which only meant one thing, Turisas was ready to hit the stage. Now while I am not necessarily a huge fan of theirs, I really do enjoy watching them and also plan on seeing them while they are on tour with Firewind, so I skipped the last couple songs and headed over to the Spectrum Lounge to watch Inquisition. Now this is how black metal sounds in its rawest form; two guys on stage; one guitar, one drumkit, DONE. And to my surprise a lot of metal heads were present to watch the duo and gave them the proper respect they deserve.
We were at the 24-hr Pizza joint, thinking we can get some late night/early morning grub and coffee when I heard that 3 Inches Of Blood already started on the Pool Deck Stage. Apparently it didn't take them too long to switch over and they actually started almost on time. Thanks God, since by then it was already pushing 4:30 in the morning. I stayed for a while to watch the Canucks but I was exhausted and went to bed since I knew the next day (or better yet - a couple hours later) everything will start back up in full swing.
The bands I enjoyed the most that day were, in no particular order: Helloween, Metal Church, Helstar and Immolation. And also check out the band pictures from Day One.
Notes from Dan: Best shows for Day 1 for me were Sabaton and Metal Church.
Written on 09.02.2013 by
Professional concertgoer, dangerously armed with a camera!