70,000 Tons of Recap
For normal folk, the new year begins on 1 January of every year but for me, it doesn’t start until after the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise has completed its course. I can officially say that we are now in the next season of metal. Last year was my first year and I was completely unprepared for how melted my face was going to be afterwards. This time, I planned hard. I spent months making preparations, giving up social situations and even pursuing a stable relationship in lieu of saving money for this trip (real love). I was not anywhere close to being prepared to how insane this year was going to be.
When I say that the cruise was “awesome”, “amazing”, or even “spectacular”, I am not giving it justice. I described it was the antithesis to the Holocaust. I have returned to my home, a mere mortal again, but with the memories of an ethereal apotheosis that will forever be remembered.
DISCLAIMER: These next four weeks are going to detail my experience on the boat. They are not intended to be read in their entirety but rather perused at your leisure. Find a band you’re interested in and look at the experience I provide and live vicariously through it. Maybe you are reading this and you were there with me. If you want a full recap, by all means, read through it, but it’s going to be a lot of me unable to properly articulate how these performances went because I can only use the same synonyms so many times. Expect high word counts and repetition.
CARACH ANGREN (NETHERLANDS) FROM THE LOUNGE
This was the very first band on the boat. It was also the first time I had ever seen Carach Angren. I think Raven was playing at the same time in another venue but I wasn’t too terribly interested in that band. Not when you have a band like Carach Fucking Angren playing. The thing about the Lounge is that it sucks. Let’s be honest here. You can’t see shit, the sound system is inferior and they book the wrong bands in there. But Carach Angren was amazing nonetheless. They played a few songs from their newest album and a couple from Death Came Through a Phantom Ship, including finishing up with Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log which was a pretty epic conclusion.
You can catch me at about 2:14 in that video.
DELAIN (NETHERLANDS) FROM THE THEATER
Delain was a band that I had seen previously with Nightwish and Sabaton in 2015. I am particularly attached to them because their name comes from The Eyes of the Dragon, which is a Stephen King novel. It looked like they had a new guitarist running around with them, which was pretty cool. Also, George Ooesthoek from Orphanage was present and sang “Tell Me, Mechanist”. That was pretty damn awesome seeing him show up like that suddenly. The video I provided is from their second set in the ice rink.
ANCIENT RITES (BELGIUM) FROM THE ICE RINK
I was a fan of Ancient Rites for a bit there when I was younger. They were one of the first bands I was really exposed to but I never really explored their music too well. I was still pretty excited to see them and I was not disappointed. It was a cool blend of folk and black metal with some pretty sweet vocals. The song Victory or Valhalla was quite epic.
DRAGONFORCE (ENGLAND) FROM THE THEATER
I wasn’t too particularly stoked about seeing DragonForce. It was one of those bands that I was curious about because of the precise guitarwork on their albums but I had heard quite a few stories about how it wasn’t replicated live very well. On the way to the theater, I picked up some pizza and purchased a soda pass ($32 for all you can drink) for the trip and then went to see the band perform. I waited 45 minutes and they finally came out to say that the sound was off and that they couldn’t hear themselves. This continued to be an issue for a lot of the bands particularly in that venue. They performed a quick cover of Ring of Fire which I wasn’t real impressed over.
AT THE GATES (SWEDEN) FROM THE ICE RINK
I don’t know what At the Gates was going through but they were fucking ON. They started their set early and powered through a full, energetic crowd. At the Gates was definitely a bucketlist band and they killed it. Terror 2000 has a joke about bands stealing At the Gates riffs for their music and I completely understand that meaning in full now. Even their new songs were part of that signature melodic death metal sound that they came to pioneer over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ice rink that packed, even last year when Destruction played.
SODOM (GERMANY) FROM THE ICE RINK
I grabbed the buffet dinner while Lacuna Coil played. I had seen them once in 2003 and I wasn’t super interested in seeing them again. I figured it would be a great time to catch some dinner. This was the first time I started seeing members of bands I had previously seen perform at shows. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was starting to recognize them or because they were suddenly available after their set. Probably a mix of both most likely. Sodom is another one of those bucketlist bands I had always wanted to see. They did a hilariously awesome cover of Surfin’ Bird. Seeing them do Remember the Fallen was great and Blasphemer was definitely one of the coolest songs I have ever seen performed. I can totally see how they were categorized as a black metal band at times.
ICED EARTH (UNITED STATES) FROM THE THEATER
I had seen Iced Earth once before with the current lineup. This, is actually a feat in itself as nearly everyone in the 813 area code has played with them at one point or another. I’m just kidding, but seriously, take a look at their Wikipedia page…tons of musicians in the past. I’ve enjoyed them all and this assortment is one of my favorites. I had a good time talking with Brent, the drummer, about music. We talked particularly about the gaps widening between album releases, the amount of bands out there (in the world) and how that an album is essentially an advertisement for a live performance. They record albums so that we have songs we identify with and want to see performed. It was a conversation that confirmed my own biases.
KATATONIA (SWEDEN) FROM THE ICE RINK
I had seen Katatonia twice before this. They haven’t had any releases since Dead End Kings in 2012 so this set list was very similar to what I had experienced in the past. The guitar was really beefy and full of tone. Dead Letter had a really cool guitar solo. We got to hear Jonas scream a little bit during The Longest Year. Ghost of the Sun was the best song of the set as most of it was from the last three albums. They closed with July.
RHAPSODY OF FIRE (ITALY) FROM THE THEATER
Rhapsody of Fire was another one of those bucketlist bands for me. I had seen Fabio Lione perform with Kamelot during an interim touring session between singers so I knew that this set was going to be awesome. He discussed his work with Christopher Lee and paid tribute to the late actor. It was definitely a really cool experience.
This concludes day one of the 70,000 Tons of Metal 2016 cruise. Next week I’ll be sharing my Friday experience with you all. Thanks for tuning in!