70000 Tons Of Metal Day Two Report with Photo Gallery
70000 Tons Of Metal Day Three Report with Photo Gallery
70000 Tons Of Metal Day Four Report with Photo Gallery
2000 fans, 41 bands, 1 ship can only mean one thing: I survived another 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise and am here to tell the tales. But before I get into the nitty and gritty details, here are some stats from the fourth installment of the self-proclaimed world's biggest heavy metal cruise:
On last year's edition there were 55 nations represented, but this year that number went up to an astonishing 61. Calling all nerds; someone please google how many nations there are on the planet since 61 is pretty darn impressive. What was also impressive was that, once again, Germany surpassed the USA as far as cruisers attending. Therefore, the top five countries were the same as last year, while the rest of the top ten switched around some. (check right here for a list of each and every country on board)
Top Ten Countries: Germany, USA, Canada, Finland, The Netherlands, Mexico, Belgium, Australia, Colombia, United Kingdom.
Number of guests: 2051 (age range from 2 to 72)
Musicians and crew: 458
Ship crew: 869
Total number of people on board: 3378
37 % females
I don't have any stats about the beer consumption, but I assume it was just as ridiculous as in 2013. Seriously, if you got thirsty on the cruise, you did it wrong.
Unfortunately, this year's voyage was also somewhat bitter sweet since it was the last 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise on board her Majesty Of The Seas. Long story short, Royal Caribbean International was going to sell the ship to another cruise provider, the sale got delayed and so that the 70000 Tons Of Metal experience was not going to be stuck in limbo, the cruise organizer (Ultimate Music Cruises Inc.) already made arrangements to move the festival onto another ship. More about this subject later.
And so we begin. Leaving home, in a snowstorm nevertheless, while on route to balmy Southern Florida; what more can one hope for? I tell you what else - 70000 Tons Of Metal is so much more than just a cruise to a tropical destination while watching some kick-ass bands play on a ship. It's the instant acceptation the minute you meet some metal heads in black shirts among the sea of Miami's South Beach "silicon enhanced" babes and buff dudes. It's the camaraderie that forms regardless of age, gender or religion. Metal has no boundaries, no judgments, and a lot of people shell out a lot of money to make this annual trip. The reward is meeting up with people you see but once a year but feel like you have known them for a lifetime. Anyway, and before I get all nostalgic on your asses, on with it.
Crowd surfing at the beach party - Photo by Michael Jagla; use permission granted
Once again, the cruise was officially SOLD OUT a couple days before the journey began which actually came as a surprise to me since this year's line-up was more on the "harder" side of things. The consensus was that the line-up lacked some "heavy hitters" especially in the power metal genre and I tend to agree with this assessment. Not that I am complaining, since - hellllo Carcass, but the assortment of bands was definitely geared toward the harder stuff. But, with this being said, maybe the organizers didn't want to play their "Ace" and reserved some bands for 2015; who knows. Regardless, it was a great cruise and UMC brought bands onto the ship which the North American audience would otherwise never be able to see live.
Ship, Caribbean, what is missing? Pirates! And hence Swashbuckle was the first band to play as we were pulling out of the Port Of Miami en route to Costa Maya, Mexico. Always entertaining, but last time I saw them, the guitarist had a stuffed parrot on his shoulder, which made their entire visual performance that much better. But this really didn't matter since everyone was so hungry for the music to start that the Spectrum Lounge was nicely filled.
A quick word about the "venues" on board the ship: there was the Spectrum Lounge, and with its 250 people or so normal capacity, the smallest place for bands to play. The stage is about a foot off the ground and therefore the fans are really up close and personal with their idols. The next bigger one was the Chorus Line Theatre with a normal capacity of around 1000 people. The theatre has multiple tiers and spans over two decks. The stage is actually rather big and could be compared to any midsize venue in North America.
The reason I wrote "normal capacity" is that for the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruises some seats in the theatres were taken out to make space for a standing room or pit area. The "crown jewel" of venues was of course the Pool Deck stage which was still being built while the music was in full swing in the other places. Bets were actually being made if the stage would be ready in time for the first band at 12.30am since - well, let's just say it wouldn't have been the first time for a delay.
The whole procedure is actually a massive undertaking since one of the two pools has to be drained and covered with a platform for the fans to stand on. Then of course, the entire stage has to be built from scratch. Serious kudos to those who are involved in making this happen btw.
Anyways, while Swashbuckle was playing away in the Spectrum, I wandered over to the Chorus Line to check out Soilwork before heading to dinner. Yeah, this was not gonna happen soon; the crew was still putting together the drum kit and hence, the first delay of the day which of course had a snowball effect on all of the acts following them. I headed to the dining room and missed Soilwork and Atrocity respectively. Honestly, no big deal since ALL bands do play twice on the cruise. Luckily, my buddy Matthew Zinke from matthewknowsphotos was on hand to at least bring some visuals of their performance. Oh, yeah, btw, my trusted cruise companion Dan from last year was unfortunately not able to make the trip and I would like to introduce Matthew as this year's honorary Metal Storm contributor.
Food, drinks, cigarette and off to Overkill I went, or so I thought. The delay in the Chorus Line Theatre was now a whopping 45 minutes and instead of standing around and watching the band do their line-check, I headed over to the Spectrum to check out Cynic. Hmmm, either I was just not in the mood or … wow, the vibe in the Spectrum was rather subdued and not something I wanted to experience at 9 o'clock at night. I was looking for fist in the air kind of metal and Cynic just didn't bring it. So, I opted to go back to the Chorus Line Theatre. Thankfully by then Overkill had started playing and I enjoyed their set with the rest of the Thrashers.
If you look up the word energy, I am really surprised that there isn't a picture of Bobby Blitz as well. Dude is older than I am and acts like a teenager on stage. Well, if I have to describe an Overkill show to you, then you are clearly reading the wrong article - moving on. One thing has to be said though; the sound was not all that good during their set and it didn't get any better when Symphony X played afterwards neither. Russell Allen was not pleased to say the least, but the fans apparently didn't mind and Symphony X powered through with mostly songs off their latest album Iconoclast.
Thankfully the Spectrum didn't have any sound issues (lighting issues were a whole different story) and it was a trip to the good 'ol days while I was sitting there watching Raven. The "athletic rock" brothers John and Mark Gallagher put on a great show and I was hanging around the lounge for a while to catch up with friends while over at the Chorus Line Theatre Obituary apparently ripped the audience a new one. I know, should have went, but I already planned to watch them on the Pool Deck at another day.
Speaking of Pool Deck - it actually was finished on time, but due to the delay at the Chorus Line Theater (which swindled from 45 minutes to roughly 20 minutes by that time) the trolls from Finntroll started just a little bit after their scheduled 12.30am timeslot. By the time their intro came out of the speakers, the entire pool deck was filled to the brim. I just saw them a couple months back and was really looking forward to seeing them again Arsis's axe-slinger Brandon Ellis was once again playing with the Trolls and the band's performance was kick-ass to say the least.
A lot of Crowd-surfers as well, hence I didn't spend that much time taking pictures, but instead stood at a safe distance to watch the show. Alestorm's Chris Bowes was on board with his other band Gloryhammer and for those of you who know Chris, know that he is NO stranger to partying. I was watching the band and all of a sudden heard Mathias "Vreth" say: "and here is Chris Bowes". Watching the side of the stage thinking he would do a keyboard guest part - but no - there he was, crowd surfing. Priceless!
Setlist: Blodsvept, Solsagan, Mordminnen, Ett Folk Förbannat, En Mäktig Här, När Jättar Marschera, Under Bergets Rot, Skogsdotter, Häxbrygd, Nattfödd, Jaktens Tid, Trollhammaren.
Still on a high from the Finns, I made my way over to the Chorus Line Theatre for Vicious Rumors and was surprised that the delay from earlier in the day was almost caught up with. Well, it really didn't matter at this point, since the American power metallers were the last band in the Theatre for the day. I had not kept up with the ever-so-changing line-up of Vicious Rumors and was happy to see that founding member and guitarist Geoff Thorpe surrounded himself with a bunch of great and talented musicians - and young ones. Holy crap, I don't even know if their vocalist (Nick Holleman) was old enough to drink on the boat, but dear god - that kid has pipes. Geoff had fun with Nick's age as well and made a couple references regarding his youth.
Twilight Of The Gods
Vicious Rumors played their 1988 album Digital Dictator in its entirety and followed with an encore of "Don't Wait For Me" and "Soldiers Of The Night".
Being a somewhat Bathory nut, I was extremely looking forward to Twilight Of The Gods. Originally formed as a tribute band to the aforementioned, this "super group" fronted by Primordial's vocalist Alan Averill and [too many bands to list] drummer Nick Barker decided to become a real band and recorded their first album Fire On The Mountain in 2013. Unfortunately Nick couldn't make it and they had a fill in drummer on the boat.
Twilight Of The Gods didn't skip a beat and played, among their own material, Bathory's "Blood, Fire, Death" - kick-ass doesn't even describe it, even I was in the middle of the crowd on the Pool Deck just soaking it all in. Fan-fricking-tastic!
Since I already had plans for Hatesphere's second set scheduled on Wednesday, I made my way over to the Spectrum Lounge to at least catch a little bit of those Danish dudes. They sounded great but unfortunately not that many people were there to hear them. Mind you, at this point, it was already past 4am in the morning and I assumed that many folks were either at the Karaoke bar or in bed. Holy hell was I wrong.
It's cheesy, it's funny, it's silly but it was one of the highlights of the first day on 70000 Tons Of Metal - ladies and gents - Gloryhammer. Oh my god was the fun to be a part of and to my utter surprise the Pool Deck was fucking PACKED at 4.30 in the morning. People probably took a nap throughout the day to witness the story telling of Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife, the band's debut album.
Gloryhammer doesn't go over the top ala Manowar and I think this is the reason why they were so popular on the cruise. It's just pure fun and the musicians can also back up their silliness with mad skills on their instruments. I almost died laughing when the vocalist asked: "can you imagine the sky filled with unicorns?" (or something along those lines) and after a pause he said: "I can't". I shit you not, the entire Pool Deck was laughing.
There was so much energy, on and off the stage, and smiles all around - killer set and great way to "end" the first day of music. It was way past 5 in the morning when I finally made my way back to my cabin and I found myself humming the melody to "Magic Dragon".
All bands were great, but for me the best performance of the day was honestly a tie between Finntroll and Twilight Of The Gods, followed by Gloryhammer and Vicious Rumors.
For your visual entertainment please click here and check out all the pictures from Day One in the Photo Gallery or check out the links below:
Written on 07.02.2014 by
Professional concertgoer ... dangerously armed with a camera!