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: The last two weeks and the following two 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.
ARKONA (RUSSIA) FROM THE THEATER
Arkona holds the distinction now of being the first Russian band I have ever seen live. It was a good band to start off the trip away from Jamaica and reinvigorate me as we headed back out to the ocean. The folk music side of the music was really awesome and they had a few surprises for me while they performed.
STRATOVARIUS FROM THE POOL DECK
For some reason, we started throwing a football around. This was going from the hot tub to the 12th deck and back over all over the pool deck. Eventually the football was confiscated and we all got a little sad. But Stratovarius showed off their signature guitar skills and the vocals were just as strong as I imagined they would be.
BELPHEGOR (AUSTRIA) FROM THE ICE RINK
I had seen Belphegor perform in 2011 and it was awesome. This was even better. They had a larger stage that was fully equipped to handle their intense visual set. They are very similar to Watain in the respect that their visuals are just as impressive as their music and it’s almost a theatrical experience. The drummer was very quick. Not quite Fleshgod Apocalypse quick, but pretty damn fast. It was a pretty cool show.
KRISIUN (BRAZIL) FROM THE LOUNGE
I really enjoyed the performance from Krisiun the day before, but I had to make my way to see their other set just because I like them so much. It was difficult to determine, but it felt like their set might have been the same for both nights. That can be a good thing and a bad thing, depending on how many times you intend to see a band. Krisiun never disappoints, though, and I dug everything they played.
KATATONIA (SWEDEN) FROM THE POOL DECK
So, seeing them in the ice rink was pretty cool and seeing them on the pool deck was even cooler, especially with the wind blowing the hair OUT OF Jonas’s face so we could actually see him. The set list was MOSTLY the same, but then we got to witness the song “Without God”, which employs the use of harsh vocals for the first time in over twenty years. That was a very unique and special experience for me.
GAMMA RAY (GERMANY) FROM THE THEATER
After my consternation of missing Gamma Ray the day before, it was absolutely imperative that I see them on this particular day. I was not disappointed. They performed just as well as I anticipated and were full of energy. I had to leave the set early to try the steakhouse. The steak was good, but not $54 good. However, the thick bacon appetizer was absolutely phenomenal.
FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE (ITALY) FROM THE LOUNGE
After Fleshgod Apocalypse’s set was cut short the night before for technical issues, I was stoked to see them get another chance in the Lounge. Unfortunately, I am not Ogier sized (kudos if you get the reference. Shit, kudos if you’re even reading this) and could not see the band performing. I was very pleased with what I heard. It was literally the most full I’ve ever seen the Lounge, with people even clogging up the hallway outside of the venue. I don’t think anyone anticipated quite how big this band was going to get suddenly.
PARADISE LOST (SWEDEN) FROM THE THEATER
I was only able to catch one song from this set at the exit from the Fleshgod Apocalypse set was ridiculous from all the people inside. It was the last song and it was a good finish for them.
ELUVEITIE (SWITZERLAND) FROM THE POOL DECK
I only caught about 15 minutes of this particular set as I didn’t want to miss the Vader set that was just about to start. It seemed like this particular set featured more of the not so famous songs. I didn’t recognize any, anyway. I still enjoyed what I caught, though.
VADER (POLAND) FROM THE ICE RINK
I had seen Vader once before in 2013 and I was ready to get my face smashed in again. For being 50+ years old, the dudes still have it. They aren’t afraid to tackle old songs, new songs, and everything in between. This set was pretty awesome.
EPICA (NETHERLANDS) FROM THE THEATER
So, I need to set some things straight with you here. I’ve seen a lot of performances. Well, not “a lot” a lot, but a lot considering my schedule and budget. I’ve probably seen close to 500-1000 performances. This performance was the second best I’ve ever seen. The only one that tops it is the Fleshgod Apocalypse show that I witnessed back home just a week after returning from this very cruise. The setlist was phenomenal. Design Your Universe is my favorite Epica album and they touched on the title track as well as the 14 minute long Kingdom of Heaven, which ended the set. Absolutely incredible.
FIREWIND (GREECE) FROM THE ICE RINK
Firewind is a band that I was pretty unfamiliar with. I was very surprised to see how packed the ice rink was during their set and how strong their performance. They were probably one of the stronger power metal bands on the ship and we were graced with some of the legends this year.
CHILDREN OF BODOM (FINLAND) FROM THE POOL DECK
I was able to make it up to the pool deck to catch Children of Bodom for some of their set. This set was distinguishable from their theater set because Alexi Laiho was a lot more prominent in the guitar and he was showcasing his ability a lot more. Once that set ended I went back down to grab some pizza before seeing…
HAMMERFALL (SWEDEN) FROM THE THEATER
I was late to the Hammerfall due to a conversation I was having with some people I knew that had zero interest in Hammerfall. Hammerfall was decent to see but they didn’t have the same impact that the bigger power metal bands on board had. It seemed like they needed in more oomph in their performance, but it was still enjoyable.
STARKILL (UNITED STATES) FROM THE LOUNGE
Starkill was a band that I had literally no exposure to prior to the cruise. They had come along on one of the festivals that had hit my city (can’t remember which) but had played before I arrived and I ended up missing them. Everyone told me they were really good, though, so I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to see them. They put on a fantastic live performance. These guys were real young and flew around the stage with an energy that few bands can. It was very entertaining to watch.
GHOUL (UNITED STATES) FROM THE ICE RINK
(sorry folks gotta follow a link for this one!)
I also had no prior exposure to Ghoul before seeing them in the wee hours of 0300. They were amusing, comedic, talented, and had a superb and interactive live show. It was like seeing Gwar all over again, but the music was a lot more thrash and groove oriented. I had a lot of fun watching them as I got covered in blood.
TYR (FAROE ISLANDS) FROM THE POOL DECK
I caught Tyr once before in 2013 and I was so impressed with their guitarwork and clean vocals that I was absolutely ecstatic when I saw that they were going to be featured on the cruise. They didn’t quite have the energy that I expected, but it was also 0400 in the morning. They did play some good songs from their catalog while also touching on their 2013 release quite a bit.
CARACH ANGREN (NETHERLANDS)
This was the most anticipated performance of the entire trip for me. I was hoping against hope that because Carach Angren had a 45-minute set that they would just play the album Death Came Through a Phantom Ship in its entirety. I mean, it seems like a logical thing to do. My only reservation about their entire set was the fact that it was the same exact set that they played in the lounge. But the singer did refer to the ship as “Ghost Ship” which was pretty fucking cool and their set was beyond amazing. Watching the sun rise to Bloodstains on the Captain’s Log was an experience I will never forget.
We’ve got one more week of coverage before I roll onto the next thing. Looking forward to seeing you!