Day Three of 70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise was supposed to start with us actually going into the Dining Room for some made-to-order breakfast and - well it didn't happen and we ended up at the buffet restaurant. Not that this one is bad or something but we really wanted to check out the other breakfast place. But, since I only slept about 7 hours in the past 48 hours I had to get some extra zzzz's since I knew the "shore-leave" will wipe me out otherwise.
Cockburn Town on the Grand Turk Island which is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands was the destination for this third installment of the self-proclaimed "Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise". Crystal clear water, powdered sand, a short walk from the ship, us the only cruise liner at port and a Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant and bar right at the beach made this excursion the best one so far.
This is what I saw first thing in the morning - BEAUTIFUL
I am pretty sure the staff at the bar didn't know what hit them when a sea of black T-Shirt wearing and hooligan looking metal heads took command of their establishment. They were really good sports about it and since one of the cruisers actually brought a iPod we all were listening to Slayer and Pantera instead of the usual country/pop/reggae music. The prices for drinks weren't any higher than your usual bar downtown but it was a hell of a lot nicer drinking them while enjoying the scenery in the FREE lounge chairs. SCORE! But all good things had to come to an end and we had to be back on the ship by 3:30 in the afternoon.
While a lot of people were either resting in their rooms or getting a bite to eat at the buffet, Subway To Sally was the first band to play on the Pool Deck Stage upon returning. There were at least more people present than when they had their first show in the Theater the other night but I didn't stick around for too long and headed into the Spectrum Lounge to enjoy another great set by Sweden's Fatal Smile.
Turisas was getting ready to play their second set, this time indoors in the Chorus Line Theater, but I had so much fun at Fatal Smile that I missed most of the Finns' set. No biggy, I had seen them tons of times before since Turisas always tours the States and I knew I was going to catch them live again in Denver after the cruise. But I did manage to catch the ass end of their show and as expected, the place was packed.
Notes from Dan:
Now I'm not a fan of folk (or pagan, viking, whatever) metal. Much of what I've heard sounds too held back to me. It's either not melodic or metal enough or, when it is, they throw in a whole bunch of things (flutes, fiddles, growled vocals) that don't seem to belong.
Case in point, the previous day Arkona was a big disappointment for me with the second wave black metal influences (that is, über-boring simplistic open-chord riffing accompanied by blast beats) and having both clean and harsh vocals. And while Ensiferum was definitely more melodic (so why the harsh vocals?!), all it left me with was a big "Meh". Thankfully, Turisas proved to be of a higher caliber.
First off, their music simply worked. The songs were very catchy, fun, sing-along, and pretty cheesy, but instead of trying to downplay that, they chose the Manowar path and just ran with it. About the violin and keyboard, you could tell that they were not just an afterthought, but that the songs were written with them in mind. In fact, so much, that the guitar seemed a little in the background, both in the music and even on the stage. But the music was backed up by an energetic performance and overall commanding stage presence. Truly, their songs were meant to be played live and Turisas does not disappoint.
Next up was a toss-up between watching Ektomorf who once again played in the Spectrum Lounge, or Angra who performed their second set on the Pool Deck Stage. Guess where I went? Not really a challenge, is it? So, while Angra was just amazing a day prior in the Chorus Line Theater, their performance on the Pool Deck Stage was even better.
Picture taken by Juan David Villamarin
Notes from Dan:
After the impressive show put on by Turisas, I headed over to watch some awesome power metal from Angra again, but this time on the Pool Deck. Set-wise not much changed, but as they had Fabio Lione filling in as vocalist, I didn't expect much change either. Both shows were great, though being practically the same show and only a day apart, the first one felt a little better.
Here are some things that stood out to me. As for what's typical of the band: the musicianship was amazing. The guys REALLY know how to play their instruments, and better yet are still able to have plenty showmanship. Flashy is a way to describe their performance.
As for what's atypical: Fabio Lione did a pretty good job handling the vocal duties. That I don't know anything from the Edu Falaschi-era probably helped my appreciation of it, but his pipes seemed to fit the music nicely. And as for a frontman, Fabio wasn't simply reciting planned-out cues during the intervals between songs; he almost seemed like a completely different frontman for the second set.
Also, on both sets guitarist Rafael Bittencourt even sang a song, "The Rage Of The Waters", which wasn't bad though he has a quite different singing voice from Fabio. And finally, for their Pool Deck set, the band did a nice cover of Iron Maiden's "Wasted Years", with Courtney "Adriana Smith" Cox (who was also one of the pool girls) from The Iron Maidens playing lead guitar.
After the high of watching Fabio again I made my way back to the Chorus Line Theater a bit early so I could avoid the mad rush of people going to catch the second set of Metal Church; so I thought. To my surprise the room was actually not that full and apparently a lot of metal heads opted to watch Týr in the smaller Spectrum Lounge; wow. Since Metal Church played their 1984 debut album Metal Church in its entirety for their second gig, I opted to stay for a minute before also heading over to the Lounge; and I am so glad I did. Not necessarily because of the gig, but because of vocalist Ronny Munroe's explanation for the band's backdrop.
At the Pool Deck Stage none of the artists could hang a backdrop with their logo or artwork since the back of the stage is open and people can also watch from the deck above. Hence, the only time any band was able to display their scrim was in one of the indoor theaters. So when Metal Church played their first set on the Pool Deck Stage, no one knew what type of "elaborate" backdrop they would have.
I was actually on my way out of the room when I heard Ronny thank the lighting guy for illuminating their design. The audience almost died laughing since there it was, hanging high above the stage and secured to the rafters with tape - a black and white Metal Church T-Shirt with their logo on it. Fucking priceless! I am so glad I actually have a picture (not as good though) of this, since one has to see it to believe it. LOL
check the yellow arrow !!!
Anyways, the Spectrum Lounge was ridiculously packed for Týr and I seriously wondered why the organizers didn't have them perform in the much bigger Chorus Line Theater. Not in the same timeslot of course, but I bet there were some bands that would have done much better in the smaller space. *cough* Subway To Sally *cough*
Doro was already playing on the Pool Deck Stage when I finally made my way back up the stairs. Again, not enough can be said about that woman - amazing.
Notes from Dan:
The ART of live performance, where there's showmanship, where there's a frontman instead of simply a singer, where the band isn't simply playing note-for-note what's on the record, where they allow for much audience participation, where there's literal solos, is mostly lost and forgotten in today's metal scene.
Sure, the style of music has a lot to do with it, but it's refreshing to see one of those few who still PERFORM live rather than just play live. That is really what made Doro stand out. Of course there's the music: solid German heavy metal, with that classic Eighties feel to it. And I was also glad that they played many Warlock songs. But the show was much, much more than that. So much so that lots of the weaknesses that the music had (for even Warlock were far from the crème de la crème of German metal) were overcome. In sum, definitely a must see.
By the time Doro finished their set it was about 20 minutes till 10pm and we only had about an hour time to actually eat our second meal of the day; well not even an hour since the restaurants closed at 10pm. Nevertheless we managed to secure a table, ate and hung out with some of our friends until the next band was slated to play on the Pool Deck Stage; therefore totally missed Ensiferum as well as Onslaught who played during that time.
So, after the drum issues and 45 minute delay for Helloween's first set I was looking forward to watching them again and this time there were no issues at all. While Andi Deris is a much "older" frontman these days, he has not lost his wits and told the audience that he had a great time on the beach and coincidently drank about a half of bottle of whiskey. Yeah right - anyways, their set list was about the same as on Monday with the addition of "Steel Tormentor" and they did switch two songs out. But let there be one thing clear, I bet the entire ship including crew was present when Helloween played on the Pool Deck Stage; holy crap the place was packed.
Helloween Pool Deck Stage
For some reason our late dinner wasn't near enough and I decided to go back to the Windjammer Buffet for some late night snack and wouldn't you know it - I ran into tons of people and lost track of time; meaning Lacuna Coil and Unexpect were not in the cards for me that night. On a side note; it was really enjoyable to finally meet the girlfriends and/or wives of some of the "Rockstars" in person. It is always nice to put a face to a name but I won't mention names here since a) I don't want to crush someone's fantasy and b) not everybody might know that their particular "hero" is married. After all - it's their personal life which we all should respect.
By that time I was feeling slightly fatigued but did power through to watch Nile put on an amazing set on the Pool Deck Stage. Since I am honestly not all that familiar with their entire catalog I have no clue what all they played, but I do know that they did perform some older songs since the crowd went ape-shit once Dallas Toler-Wade announced them. He also told the crowd that for their upcoming tour in North America there won't be any support bands but rather two or three local openers who would be determined by the local promoters. Nile will play two separate sets on their tour; one with mostly songs of At the Gate of Sethu and the other set with some old shit they haven't played in a while. Sounds pretty cool and I did enjoy that concept when Amon Amarth did the same thing a couple years back here in the States.
I headed back into the Spectrum Lounge and met up with Dan to once again watch Heidevolk since they really, really impressed me the first time around. Apparently not just me since the place was PACKED. No rest for the wicked I guess and since nobody else was playing on any of the other stages during their set most of the cruisers were present. Those Dutchmen are pretty funny as well as one of them stated: "So, I guess you all went to the beach today. Well, the beach changes a man, you go there white and come back red" Laughter all around especially since some of the patrons were as red as lobsters.
Notes from Dan:
Two vocalists; not two people who happen to sing, though never together, and also play an instrument (like Kiss's Gene and Paul), but two people who only sing. Such a thing would normally get a mega thumbs down from me, especially if the band decided to go one clean vocals, the other harsh. (*hint* Lacuna Coil) But Heidevolk seemed to take, what I'd call, a stupid and pointless gimmick and turn it into something great.
Seriously, the vocals (thankfully sung in their native Dutch) are truly special, and add so much to their music. Speaking of which, the music is actually not bad. It's I guess pagan metal: very simplistic but catchy, and without any trace of power metal melodies. I mean it's not mind-blowing, but it is solid and enjoyable, and the packed Spectrum Lounge was totally into it.
The atmosphere was pretty relaxed as well. At some point during the show one of the frontmen asked the audience "how are you guys doing?" And since the response was pretty weak, he proceeded with "that sounded like we are on a Disney cruise", which of course was followed by laughter and then heavy cheering.
Heidevolk are definitely worth checking out, and do folk metal without any added gimmicks. I think I will go when they tour here in the States in a couple of month, not only for them, but most importantly for Týr, a band I really wanted to check out and missed both times on the boat.
Hmmm, in hindsight I have no clue why nobody played in the Chorus Line Theater after Lacuna Coil finished around 12.45am. There could have been a quick change over and another band, let's say Týr (see prior comment when they played in the small lounge) or even Heidevolk could have occupied the last time slot. For both bands the small Spectrum Lounge was totally packed and I bet the bigger stage in the Chorus Line Theater could have given them much better space to move around. But hey, the cards were dealt and we (and the bands) did the best out of it.
Since the only places where shows were performed that, by now morning, were the Pool Deck Stage and the Spectrum Lounge, there was a big rush after each band's set and Helstar was already playing when I ventured back up to the Pool Deck. Again, I had so much fun during their first set that I opted to take just a few pictures and rock out for the rest of their show. And to be quite honest, the amount of light, no light, strobes and fog during Helstar's set made me a bit dizzy. But not enough to miss Holy Grail who played in the lounge right after.
Helstar among the fog
Seriously, by the time Luna was done singing the last note I was almost too lazy to get up but I didn't want to miss Immolation who by that time already started the last set of the day - day? shit it was already 4 in the morning, on the Pool Deck. I made the fatal mistake to walk through the karaoke lounge on my way to Immolation and the rest is - blurry? Needless to say I did not make it back to the Pool Deck and ended up in my cabin somewhere around half past - shit and a quarter to - dammit I have to get up in a couple of hours.
Since I saw all of the bands on prior days, the sets I enjoyed most on Wednesday were Heidevolk, Fatal Smile, Týr and Helloween.
Notes from Dan: While Angra and Doro were as great on Wednesday as on Tuesday, that magic feeling of seeing them for the first time obviously wasn't there the second time around. So, for day three, the bands that I most enjoyed were Metal Church, Turisas and Heidevolk.
To check out the pictures of all the performers check the Day Three Gallery
Written on 19.02.2013 by
Professional concertgoer ... dangerously armed with a camera!