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: Last week and the following three 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.
70,000 Tons of Waiting in Line for Merch
I began my morning early. Last year, I woke up an hour before the merch line started (0700) and ended up out of the line at 1130 with $530 in my suitcase full of goodies. This year, wanting to avoid the waiting in line part, I woke up an hour earlier to find about 45 people in front of me. The line in front of me grew to about 120 and I very much wanted to shout “No buts, no cuts, no alligator guts!” but I kept my mouth shut and dealt with my issues like a big boy. I ended up with $615 in merchandise this year. This elated a “Six-fifteen! Remember that number!” from the people working the merch section. I think that may be the largest number they’ve ever seen. I was prepared to spend well over $1000 but the options were a little limited. I was out of the line at 1010 and I took a little nap until 1330. I woke up, had some pizza and went to see…
TSJUDER (NORWAY) FROM THE THEATER
I was relatively unfamiliar with Tsjuder prior to the trip, but I knew that they were a pretty decent black metal band. I was quite impressed with their performance and they played a very traditional style of black metal. They had some really sweet squealing guitar solos that I couldn’t help but appreciate. I was still hungry, so I decided to grab some pizza before heading up to see Gamma Ray.
SUBWAY TO SALLY (GERMANY) FROM THE POOL DECK
So, as it turns out, there was a bit of a mixup with Gamma Ray and Subway to Sally. Initially, Gamma Ray was supposed to play earlier and Subway to Sally was slated for the 1445 time slot. The print of Friday’s schedule showed that the two bands had changed the set times with each other. That morning, a flyer was attached to the door of our cabin to (what I thought was to) confirm that switch. What ended up happening was that the two bands switched BACK to their original time slots so instead of seeing Gamma Ray, I saw Subway to Sally. I wasn’t planning on watching their set but when they began I was pleasantly surprised at their performance. They played with an energy that I wish Korpiklaani had when they played last year. They reminded me a lot of a German Abney Park.
MOONSPELL (PORTUGAL) FROM THE THEATER
This was the first of Moonspell’s two sets and this one contrasted the other by being a more softer gothic metal/rock set. Fernando Ribeiro sounded like a mix between Peter Steele and Johan Edlund. Mephisto was the coolest song they played, but Mairangela Demurtas came out to sing along with Ravenclaws which was definitely another highlight of that set.
KRISIUN (BRAZIL) FROM THE ICE RINK
Krisiun was definitely a must-see band for me. One of my favorites of all time. I had seen them twice before and was stoked when they were announced on this year’s cruise. The drums and guitar sounded absolutely incredible. It was the best performance I have ever seen from Krisiun and they ALWAYS deliver so that’s saying a lot. Combustion Inferno was incredibly awesome.
BLOODBATH (SWEDEN) FROM THE THEATER
Bloodbath was another one of those bucketlist bands for me. It pieces together a supergroup comprised of members from Katatonia, Opeth, and Paradise Lost for a very traditional death metal assault. It was really cool seeing everyone covered in blood. You could tell Jonas and Anders were having a ton of fun playing bass and guitar together. I was absolutely stoked when I heard them play Weak Aside and So You Die. Nick Holmes will never be Mikael Akerfeldt but I liked that he didn’t try to replicate what Mikael did, he just made the songs his own.
MY DYING BRIDE (ENGLAND) FROM THE POOL DECK
I caught about half of My Dying Bride’s set as I was splitting it up with Jag Panzer’s set. They had a live violinist for their set. I don’t know if this is commonplace or not but it definitely lent a cool perspective to the sound. Much of what I heard from this set was primarily clean vocals. I don’t know if that was just part of the set that I caught or if it distinct to just their first set (I did not see their second set) but it was a very strong vocal performance on his part.
JAG PANZER (UNITED STATES) FROM THE ICE RINK
I had been listening to Jag Panzer for years. Not religiously or anything, but I always enjoyed what I had been exposed to even if I wasn’t real versed in their catalog. When looking at the booklet 70,000 Tons gave me, I learned that they were from my home state of Colorado (Colorado Springs to be exact). This was great news. They had a real traditional style of thrash and every component of their set reflected that. The singer also made a shoutout to the Broncos which I thought was pretty damn awesome.
STRATOVARIUS (FINLAND) FROM THE THEATER
Stratovarius is another one of those power metal bands that I was always curious about and just had to see. The keyboards and bass guitar was really pronounced and super cool. The keyboardist also did a really wicked keyboard solo. I enjoyed their set a fair amount.
EPICA (NETHERLANDS) FROM THE POOL DECK
I had seen Epica a few times prior to the ship and they are definitely one of my favorites. Simone Simons is probably my favorite female vocalist. The vocals were pretty choppy, but midway through the set during a break in her part of the show, she went offstage and when she returned the vocals seemed much louder. The violinist from Eluveitie was on stage for the second half of their set. Cry For the Moon and Unleashed were both very good live. They finished with Consign to Oblivion with a promise that their second set was going to feature completely different songs. This, up to this point, was my favorite performance on the ship.
ELUVEITIE (SWITZERLAND) FROM THE THEATER
The two female vocalists were featured fairly prominently in this set which seemed to contrast the pool deck set the following day. The male singer used the (mandolin?) stringed instrument (yeah, it’s pretty clear I’m not a musician) for a few songs while the female singers did their pieces. It was definitely exciting to see the hurdy gurdy, violin, and flute out. I couldn’t imagine all eight of these performers on the stage in the lounge. That would never work. Skamold’s bassist filled in last minute to help them out. Meet Your Enemy featured some pretty heavy vocals from both the male and female singer, which was pretty awesome.
CHILDREN OF BODOM (FINLAND) FROM THE THEATER
So, I went up and picked up some dinner from Johnny Rockets up on the 12th deck. I wanted something different, so there I was. Then I went down to see Children of Bodom’s performance. What’s interesting about this was the last time I saw them was with Eluveitie, who had just happened to be playing in the last performance the theater on the ship had just had. Anyone who talks about Children of Bodom will mention the guitar work of Alexi Laiho and they might even talk about the really good keyboards. Both were fantastic, but I was particularly impressed with the drumming that accompanied the sounds I was hearing.
PARADISE LOST (SWEDEN) FROM THE POOL DECK
I was curious about what Paradise Lost’s set would be like, especially with Bloodbath performing the very same night just a few hours before. Nick Holmes did not seem very taxed at all and was able to sing just as well as I could ever remember. He mentioned that his new album was available “on a decent torrent site” and that we could download it. “It’s fine.” He said. He was very amusing. He made mention of an album that they recorded “55 years ago. Actually, it may be even longer by now.”
SKAMOLD (ICELAND) FROM THE LOUNGE
Skamold was another of those bands that I wasn’t real familiar with prior to the cruise but I was still excited to check out because I really enjoyed the little bit that I was exposed to. I was not disappointed when I saw them charging through their music with a ton of energy. The guitars were soaring and the drums carried a fair amount of weight behind them. It also may have been some of heaviest bass I heard on the entire trip.
SAMAEL (SWITZERLAND) FROM THE THEATER
Samael was one of the first bands I had ever heard. It was unique seeing them for sure. The keyboardist was also the drummer. So, sometimes the drumming was electronic and sometimes it was live. That took a little getting used to. I really dug the electronics as well as the closing song.
TURISAS (FINLAND) FROM THE POOL DECK
Turisas was, yet again, an early band for me in my incremental stages. I had never seen them perform live. This was a pretty energetic show. They were decked out in warpaint and they had a violin solo during the set. They finished the set with Rasputin.
NOVEMBER’S DOOM (UNITED STATES) FROM THE ICE RINK
Boats and hoes! That was featured on one of their t-shirts and I found it absolutely hilarious (of course I bought one). This band was everything I expected and more. Really powerful chords and a super strong vocal effort from them. Absolutely astounding.
FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE (ITALY) FROM THE POOL DECK
This was a highly anticipated performance for me as I was generally unfamiliar with this band until a week or two before departure. I spent my entire flight on the way listening to their discography and falling more and more in love with them. They opened with this song, which happens to be the one-two punch of their new album, King, which released that very day worldwide and has since charted in the United States (#113). This drummer was, by far, the fastest drummer I have ever heard live. They had some issues with their sound from a technical standpoint but, unlike DragonForce, were not permitted to have a “redo” show.
INCANTATION (UNITED STATES) FROM THE POOL DECK
I was pretty deadest on sleeping, but I eventually wound up seeing Incantation’s 0515 set. I forgot how awesome these guys were. They played a very heavy set and it was a great last show before sunset.
So that’s Friday. Tune in next week for Saturday’s recap!