70000 Tons Of Metal 2018 - Day Two: Each Careful Step Along The Byway
|Event:||70000 Tons Of Metal 2018|
|Written by:||D.T. Metal, CROMCarl|
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2018 - Day Three & Four by D.T. Metal (98)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2018 - Day Four by CROMCarl (190)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2018 - Day Three by CROMCarl (98)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2018 - Day One & Two by D.T. Metal (34)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2018 - Day Two by CROMCarl (272)
70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise 2018 - Day One by CROMCarl (141)
Catch up on Day One happenings here and also make sure you watch the official videos at the end of each article.
Enjoying Bands In Style - Photo by Kabo Photografix
As you read in my prior report, I planned my course ahead of time and my byway for the cruise was not going through the Casino or Promenade on the way back and forth from the Pool Deck to the Theater or Studio B, but rather to stroll along the outside on Deck 4. More fresh air and less potential for missing shows - in theory that was.
Day Two of 70000 Tons Of Metal is traditionally the day of: "I really don't want to miss that band" and "oh wow, never thought I would see them live" or "huh? never heard of them, let's check it out" but usually turns into "crap, they play at the same time" and my favorite "shit, now I am really late for the show, waiter - one more beer please". Like I mentioned above, in theory it all looked good, but in practice it didn't always work out that way.
I was ready for a full day of metal; literally - full day. The first show started at 10 in the morning and the last gig was scheduled to end at 05:30 the next morning. And speaking of morning, during the wee-hours and before I headed to bed, I noticed that the boat had stopped and wondered what the hell was going on. I headed outside and sure shit; we were anchored at what later was confirmed to be Nassau, Bahamas.
The rumor mill was going strong with reports that the singer from Triosphere had to be moved off the ship (they had to cancel their gig yesterday) and another report was some dude broke his femur during Destruction's gig in the Ice Rink and had to be rushed to a hospital. As we found out during the press meeting, someone's appendix almost burst and the ship's doctor recommended that the patient be brought to a hospital immediately; hence the stop in Nassau. The ship's Captain told us that the passenger is fine and made it to the hospital in time.
So, Day Two, and everyone is eager to watch bands outside in the warm sun; therefore I will feature the largest "venue" in this article.
Pool Deck Stage: the "World's Biggest Open Air Stage structure to sail the Open Seas" (according to the organizer) takes some time to build and ever since we moved to the bigger ship, opens on Day Two of the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise. The stage is huge and the support structure is a beast by itself. While I still prefer the set-up on the smaller Majesty Of The Seas, which had a HUGE open area in front of the stage, I got used to the tiered setting on the bigger boat; still not a big fan of the hot-tub right behind the mosh-pit though.
This year, for the FIRST TIME EVER, the Pool Deck Stage was all done and finished with the side and top banners up, the light rig secured, and all that goes with it, at 10am when Masterplan hit their first note.
Organizer and "Skipper" Andy Piller next to Wolfgang Rott Head Of Marketing And Media Europe -
founder and CEO of CMM GmbH posing for a picture
founder and CEO of CMM GmbH posing for a picture
The Pool Deck Stage was open for business and Masterplan did an awesome job getting the metalheads pumped for what was laying ahead. Granted, they haven't released an original album in some time and most of their first set were songs off the band's 2003 debut self-titled album, but this was fine with me to be honest.
(Notes from Carl:
Always a distinct pleasure it is to see Roland, Rick and company, Masterplan kicked off the pool deck with a 10am performance that rocked the top of the boat. With the sun bright in Rick's eyes, he kicked usual ass, performing three of my favorite MP songs: "Crystal Night", "Soulburn" and "Crawling From Hell". The perfect after breakfast band!
I headed over to the Alhambra Theater and while I didn't consider myself much of a fan of Necrophobic, after seeing them live, I decided to revisit the catalog - and a fan I've become. I came into the cruise thinking Witchery was the cream of the crop of blackened thrash, but there was top notch competition. No band on the boat screamed metal more than Necrophobic. Leather, studs, chains - belting metal with a killer live performance was just what the doctor ordered after a first day that came with little sleep. I came out of the Alhambra very charged up!
Over at Studio B and I'm sure many on the boat felt that the lessor "wolf" band was Wolfchant, but this German pagan metal band is far from inferior. The band's latest offering Bloodwinter may not represent the gem of the band's catalog, but the wolves can put on a hell of an energetic performance. In my first live blush of the band, Rebellion's Michael Seifert (here as his alter ego Nortwin) and the dueling grunts of co-vocalist Lokhi was a pleasure to watch!)
I stuck around the pool deck for a while before heading down to Studio B to check out fellow Germans Wolfchant. Never seen them live and was positively surprised that the venue was packed; especially since 80's UK's death metal outfit Benediction was also playing on the Pool Deck Stage. The Bavarian "wolves" were really good and fun was had by all. Yes, we had two "wolf" bands (the aforementioned as well as Finland's Wolfheart) on the ship and people who were unfamiliar with either of them had issues knowing which one played when.
(Notes from Carl:
I left the wolves early to catch a bit of Benediction on the Pool Deck Stage. The band has been quite the stranger over the years, having last released material via the Killing Music in 2008. Here was another band I witnessed live for the first time, the U.K. death legends owned the pool deck with Dave Hunt shouting stories of corruption juxtaposed against the backdrop of sun, sea and positive Vitamin D. This is what makes 70000 Tons Of Metal such a unique and brilliant event.
New schedule for Day Two in hand I strolled to the Pyramid Lounge. One band that was marred by bad luck was the incredible Triosphere. Recalling their past performances on the boat (in 2015), I was particularly stoked to see them again. The band's scheduled performance of Day One was cancelled due to the illness of vocalist/bassist Ida Haukland and I'm sure she would like to forget about this one as well. With vocals particularly scratchy, Haukland struggled for the first couple of songs. With the crowd's approval, the band played the rest of the set instrumental. These things are bound to happen and it is no fault of anyone - just too bad for one of the best bands on the boat. Their next performance was one I missed, and sadly so, since Battle Beast's Noora was on hand to provide some vocal power.
I didn't stick around for the instrumental part and headed over to the Alhambra Theater for In Mourning; hands down, they were one of the weekend's best performances. I was really looking forward to seeing the band for the first time, having been a fan for a number of years - particularly fascinated with the latest effort Afterglow. I expected the typical doom death live performance - having witnessed Paradise Lost and Draconian a year prior - that with members staring blankly into the crowd as an anvil weight of sludge pounded fans into a sleepy pulp in the cushions of surrounding chairs. With In Mourning, this couldn't be further from reality - as the Swedish lads put on the most energetic performance a band of this subgenre could muster, particularly with the song "Afterglow", which sounded eons heavier live than on the album. That performance left me with my jaw on the floor.)
Making my way back to the Pool Deck Stage after Wolfchant, thinking I would get a great spot to watch the ever so entertaining Alestorm, only to find out that apparently nobody moved and the pool deck was packed; and rightly so. Chris Bowes & Co never disappoint and it's just pure fun watching the band. No, it's not a gimmick since Alestorm can back up their popularity with awesome musicianship as well.
Starting their set with 2009's "Keelhauled" sure as hell set the tone for their entire performance. Since Alestorm are still on the touring cycle for their 2017 release No Grave But The Sea it was understandable that half of their set came from said album. Of course "Drink" as well as "Captain Morgan's Revenge" are always welcome set inclusions. Since each band is playing two sets on the cruise, Mr. Bowes let the audience know that today, during their first set, they are playing all the 'bad' songs and on their next set, which will also be the very last show of the cruise, they will be playing all the 'good' ones then.
Before playing "Hangover", Chris introduced Phil (an Aussie dude who is apparently part of their crew?), who slammed a can of Fosters, "that traditional Australian beverage" (nobody I know from Australia even likes Fosters ) and dedicated the song to all of the alcoholics out there. Phil was pretty cool while rapping some lyrics during the song. In short - a typical awesome Alestrom gig.
At the end of their set, Chris was crowd-surfing toward the hot-tub which I thought - hmmm - that was actually a Joakim Brodén signature move at the end of two Sabaton shows on earlier 70000 Tons Of Metal cruises; but hey, it was still funny when Chris did it.
Alestorm also had a huge yellow blow-up duck on stage which made it into the mosh-pit at no time; but more on the yellow duck during the Day Four report.
While the original plan was to split my time between Alestorm on the Pool Deck Stage and Japan's Gyze over at Studio B, it didn't pan out that way. I could kick myself in the ass for it, since I totally missed them on this year's cruise due to a scheduling conflict on their next gig. Apparently Carl had more luck and actually caught some of their show.
(Notes from Carl:
Another band I was most interested in seeing for the first time was the melodic death/power metal great from Japan - Gyze. Admittedly a late bloomer to the band, my pre-cruise research revealed a Far East gem that had all the ingredients I ask for in great music: power riffs, stellar songwriting, exciting atmosphere and memorability. Their first performance aboard 70000 Tons Of Metal was highlighted by the premiere of a killer new song "Ryujin" and augmented by songs from the band's history - "Northern Hell Song" on back to "Desire", taken from Gyze's 2013 debut full length Fascinating Violence. The three-piece was amazing, representing a superior Japanese metal scene that never gets enough exposure on this side of the world.
Back to the Theater and having missed out on the Norwegian symphonic metal band's U.S. tour with Arkona last year, I was keen to finally see Sirenia in action. Symphonic metal has become over saturated of late, so only the strong have remained relevant. With Amberian Dawn coming across a bit thin live, Sirenia packed a power punch in the Alhambra Theater performance with the band's more weighty material that comes off perfectly in the live setting. Emmanuelle Zoldan was stunning in both beauty and stage presence opposite band leader/guitarist Morten Veland who provided the death vox. Great performance that captured what really good symphonic metal should sound like live. )
After checking out most of Sirenia in the Theater I headed back up to the Pool Deck Stage for Swallow The Sun's second set (Part II - Beauty of their 2015 opus Songs From The North), but the wind was rather strong and the Finn's string orchestra suffered not only in trying to secure their music sheets, but I thought the sound wasn't all that neither. The wind really carried and this set would have been better suited to be played indoors. Vocalist Mikko Kotamäki told the audience not to expect any heavy metal and while Swallow The Sun are somewhat fan favorites, the pool deck was rather empty.
Sidebar: the Pool Deck set by Swallow The Sun was also bittersweet for a lot of old time cruisers. In 2014, the last time the band played on the Pool Deck (on the Majesty Of The Seas), the late Justin Shearer proposed to the love of his life Erin, during the band's set. Justin passed away last year after a bizarre motorcycle accident. Gone but never forgotten.
Back to the Theater I went for the mighty Metal Church. No stranger to 70000 Tons Of Metal, the band played on the boat in 2013, but this time they were fronted by new/old singer Mike Howe instead of Ronny Munroe. I just saw them this past year for the first time with Mike and was blown away. So much energy, so much fun; and not to take anything away from the Ronny and his time with Metal Church, but for me he was a vocalist while Mike Howe is definitely a true front man.
Mike was bouncing all over the place and bopped up and down during the opener "Fake Healer" and it clearly showed that he had as much fun on stage as the audience had watching them. On several occasions Mike went into the photo-pit and slapped hands with the metalheads on the rail. Guitarist and band founder Kurdt Vanderhoof was all smiles the entire time while he shredded like no other. Him and second guitarist Rick Van Zandt were extremely great during "Gods Of Second Chance"; flawless performance. What a great set and other than "Needle And Suture", most of the songs were from the 'good ol' times'; including "Beyond The Black" off their 1984 self-titled debut album. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
I made it back up to the pool deck where Korpiklaani was already in full swing. Apparently their bassist was busy with real life at home and the band tagged Turisas's Jesper Anastasiadis to fill in. And as per usual, the Finns delivered. And oh wow, how many times have I already written "the Finns" Seriously, there were quite a few Finnish bands on board this year. While I was probably singing along to "Vodka", Carl was in the bowels of the ship checking out Threshold at Studio B.
Day Two of the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise is always jam packed with not just music but ALL of the Meet 'n Greets are being held that day as well. I pity the fans who want to see most of the bands on board while also trying to get some of their swag signed. One really has to pick and choose.
Anyhoo, I know I didn't go to Exodus in the Theater (just saw them recently anyways, and also with Gary Holt who was absent on the boat), I caught about half of Evergrey's set on the Pool Deck Stage (and wow, they played a heavier set than expected) and also missed Sonata Arctica's first set.
(Notes from Carl:
This was one band I was eager to see since the vocals shake up and Damian Wilson was ousted for former vocalist Glynn Morgan. The band put out, what was arguably the album of the year in 2017, with the double CD perfection on Legends Of The Shires, so now it was time to compare this live performance to the Wilson fronted Threshold on the cruise a few years back. While the band sounded brilliant, Glynn Morgan's stage presence was a bit mundane compared to that of Wilson, who loves to jump into the crowd and have them surf him on fingertips all the way out the back of the venue. Still, theatrics aside - it was great to hear Morgan in action and some of the tunes that make Legends? such a great album realized in the live setting.
With the light fading into a glorious ocean sunset, Evergrey was the first 'night' show on the Pool Deck Stage. The most striking thing about that last sentence is 'light' in the same sentence as 'Evergrey'. For the first time in forever, capturing the band in natural light before the strobes, red and deep blue stage lights kicked in was a special treat. Oh, believe me, I totally get the lights reflect the atmosphere and emotion of the lyrical content - but on this night I truly 'saw' Evergrey! The band shined bright in this setting - a warm Caribbean breeze, beer all around and the promise of two distinct sets, including some picked by the fans (or shouted via a FB post). On this night it was all about "A Touch Of Blessing", "Passing Through", "The Masterplan" and "Blinded"! Evergrey is one of those bands I never grow tired of seeing live no matter how many times it has racked up.
Back in the Theater and something happened with Sonata Arctica's recent live performances that is a bit off since the release of 2016's The Ninth Hour. It seems the stale new material has bled into the band's live setting and it is almost as if the band is going through the motions. The passion feels drained. I remember a few years back when Sonata Arctica - especially Tony - was electric on stage. There could be a number of unforeseen reasons why, but the band felt as if they were there for doing the job more than having fun - rolling though "Caleb", "Fullmoon" and "Juliet" with the same robotic style as The Ninth Hour material ("Closer To An Animal", "Life" and "'Till Death's Done Us Apart").)
I was wondering what kind of turnout Septicflesh would have since Cannibal Corpse was raging on the Pool Deck Stage during the same time, and I was very glad to see that Studio B was almost packed to the gills. Nice! Yes, I do like Cannibal as well, but seriously, how often does Cannibal tour? How often have we seen them? And not to take anything away from George and Co, but Septicflesh really doesn't tour the US shores all that often and I was eager to hear some live tunes off their 2017 release Codex Omega. And bam, "Portrait Of A Headless Man" opened and the Greeks (plus one Austrian ) did not disappoint and held the audience captive during their entire performance.
While Septicflesh only played songs off their last 4 albums, nobody minded. What really struck me was that vocalist and bassist Seth Siro Anton addressed everyone not with the usual "ladies and gents" or "metalheads" but rather always with "my friends". This might be a cultural thing, but it was very fitting and received rather well by all.
I had the pleasure of catching them after the cruise (with Dark Funeral) and the band was just as energetic as on the cruise.
After this assault to my senses, I made the conscious decision to skip Sepultura in the Theater to watch me some good old German power metal; Freedom Call in the small Pyramid Lounge. And what a great decision this turned out to be. Ze Germans, also not new comers to the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise (they already played on the ship in 2014), are one of those bands which I also never get tired of watching live. A couple of years ago they were added to the line-up at the Metal Hammer Paradise Festival after Iced Earth canceled and everyone in attendance said this was the best replacement ever.
Anyways, thankfully this time on the boat, Freedom Call was not stuck twice in the small lounge, and their second gig was in the much bigger Theater the next day. But since other than going overseas, my chances of seeing the band live is next to nothing, I was not going to miss even one of their shows. Live session drummer for the cruise (and for their EU gigs afterwards) is none other than Masterplan's Kevin Kolt, due to Ramy Ali's wife having another baby. Congrats!
Since 2016's Master Of Light is still their 'newest' album, they played three songs off it and the rest was a selection of "must play" songs. I didn't mind at all since, and as Chris later also stated: "there are no bad Freedom Call songs." Unfortunately the Lounge was not filled to capacity but those who made it to the band's first set sure as hell had a great time; I did.
Chris's famous last words: "If all the people on this planet would be metal fans, there would be peace on earth", before the band ended their set with "Metal Is For Everyone".
Set-list: not in order: Union Of The Strong, United Alliance, Hammer Of The Gods, Masters Of Light, Freedom Call, Warriors, Metal Is For Everyone
Over at the Pool Deck Stage Sabaton was playing the first of their two totally different shows of the cruise. I really didn't pay all that much attention when they played but a fun thing was at the end. The outro to their set was the soundtrack to the movie Titanic; Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On". The band was already well off the stage and nobody moved from the pool deck and everyone, yap everyone was singing the song at the top of their lungs.
It also rained on and off during Sabaton, not real hard, just enough to piss you off. Therefore I headed back to the room to a) put on some long pants since it had gotten a bit nippy and b) get my camera for the much anticipated Dark Tranquillity set on the Pool Deck Stage.
(Notes from Carl:
No band has seen a quicker ascent to stardom in the U.S. than Sabaton, so it was no shock that they were one of the top draws for this year's edition of 70000 Tons Of Metal. We all remember the days of the Majesty, when the crowd gladly surfed vocalist Joakim Brodén all the way out to the second pool and dumped his ass in. Sabaton brings to the stage an energy that is unmatched by any other band on the boat this year - and whether you like them or hate them, you can hardly stand still. They had an excellent mix of old and new in the first of two different sets - with "Cliffs of Gallipoli", "40:1" and "Uprising" making it back into the set. The pool deck was packed and rocking and the band fired on all cylinders. Sabaton had arrived?finally.
Ever since witnessing the rebirth of the original Exciter with Dan Beehler back at the helm (and at the back of the helm ) at the Defenders Of The Old Festival in Brooklyn a few years back, the 'excitement' of seeing them again was huge. They sounded better in Brooklyn than in the 80's when the band was hitting its stride; such thundering energy. The Ice Rink had a decent crowd - though the band deserved better - and brought forth that same energy with a more muddy sound (the venue was hit or miss on sound throughout the cruise). Still, hearing classics from the first four records with Beehler and John Ricci in top form is always a treat.)
Dark Tranquillity are not only considered as one of the originators of the Gothenburg sound, but also very highly regarded among the cruise (metal)family. Front-man Mikael Stanne was commanding the stage with his performance and also rather entertaining while interacting with the fans. Songs such as "The Lesser Faith" are a headbanger's delight and during "The Science Of Noise" Mr. Stanne was down in the photo-pit singing up close and personal with his fans when he all of a sudden grabbed a chicken face mask, put it on and sang with it for a while. Typical Mikael!
As a matter of fact, there were a lot of songs during their set where Mikael was down in the photo-pit singing with his fans and also helping one or the other crowd-surfer over the barrier while at it.
During the last song, "Misery's Crown" off 2007's Fiction, everyone was jumping and shouting and it was apparent once again that Dark Tranquillity proved what a lot of us already knew; they are a kick ass live band. And according to Mikael, 70000 Tons Of Metal has the most dedicated metal crowd in the world. Awww
Should be interesting when they tour North America later this fall with Amorphis, Moonspell and Omnium Gatherum since some of the dates are at small ass venues; in some cases 300-seaters or so.
After Dark Tranquillity's set the kitchen staff had stations on the side of the lower pool deck. I thought it was for hot dogs and hamburgers or stuff like that and didn't even look further into it. I had already planned to have an early morning snack at the buffet. Come to find out they actually served poutine, Canada's finest cuisine for a crossover advertising between70000 Tons Of Metal and Heavy MTL, an annual outdoor festival in Montréal, QC, Canada.
Coincidently, and while I am so not the fast food eater, but had a craving for something salty, I had the German version of poutine - French Fries with brown gravy.
(Notes from Carl:
At Studio B, Obscura was another band I was very keen on seeing for the first time, having been a fan for years. Though the progressive technical death style is not at the top of my wish list, the band has a not so secret weapon that makes it rise above - Steffen Kummerer. I do long for the day when his other (and more preferable) band Thulcandra can grace the stages of 70000 Tons Of Metal, but Obscura is no slouch! The latest album Akróasis is brilliant - so hearing the title track and material from the equally amazing Omnivium was amazing. Kummerer was a commander of crowds and it makes the desire to see the Dissection-esque counterpart even stronger.
It has been far too long since I've seen the thrash metal game changer - Voivod. As with Exciter, the band was like a time capsule - sounding as amazing as ever - with Snake's hysterical facial expressions the highlight of the set. Just to sit and watch a legendary band, which truly changed the entire face of thrash as we knew it, in action was mesmerizing.
The late night highlight of the day was seeing an all-time favorite - Samael. The Swiss industrial black metal band released a hell of a new album in Hegemony, though it deserved a lot more recognition than I've witnessed. After breaking my Samael cherry the last time the band was on the cruise, I was more than eager to lose control and have my cameras flailing around my sides when I heard modern classics like "Of War", "Luxferre" and "Solar Soul". Though I was a fan from the band's inception, I am one of the minority that believes the newer material is superior. What an incredible live band! )
Since I just saw Samael the end of last year, I opted to head for my second show at the Pyramid Lounge that day; Florida's own Seven Kingdoms. Vocalist Sabrina told the rather small audience that the band didn't find out until a week ago that they would be part of this epic adventure. Way to go Andy. :
Their set was great though. The only time I saw them was in 2010 when they opened for Blind Guardian on their North America Tour and since they were kinda BG worshipping I thought what an odd support band. But hey, they came a long way since then. I am not at all familiar with their songs I have no clue what they played but those few of us in attendance had a great time.
(Notes from Carl:
Outside of breaking personal records for the most bands seen in a 24 hour period, I stayed awake to witness the very first live performance from Witherfall, the band created around ex-White Wizzard, and current Warrell Dane (R.I.P.) fill in for Sanctuary's ongoing tour with Iced Earth, Joseph Michael. The band is coming off the impressive 2017 debut record Nocturnes And Requiems that presents a very technical progressive power metal sound, as well as suffering a great loss when drummer Adam Sagan passed away. Though it was a bit odd to walk into the pit during the band's performance and have Michael speaking directly to me through the mic, the band put forth a passionate debut live show showcased by Sagan's relatives joining the band for an emotional tribute of spreading his ashes on the Alhambra stage. (edit D.T. Metal: read what the band said on WHY Adam's brother decided to do this on 70K in an interview with Decibel Magazine )
When Battle Beast was jobbed out of significant stage time on 2017's New England Metal & Hardcore Festival in Worcester, MA (they played for less than 15 minutes), I felt compelled to make it to the 4:45am pool deck performance to finally see a full set. Like Sabaton, I can feel Battle Beast breaking into the American market taking shape as they impressed audiences last year and soon will again while on tour with Kamelot in 2018. The mix of 80's pop and power metal is a match made in hell?so ridiculously infectious. Noora is one of those vocalists and stage performers that has the ability to steal the attention with one of the best live vocals you will ever hear. Later that morning, friends recalled hearing Noora's voice reverberating throughout the ship no matter where they were. I wonder what passing ships thought - since even the vast Caribbean Sea and approaching Grand Turk Island surely heard it as we made port.
Top 3 bands for Day Two: 1. In Mourning 2. Battle Beast 3. Samael )
After leaving Seven Kingdoms the plan was to fiddle around until Battle Beast's set, but since they weren't slated to start for some 2 hours later I decided to retire for the day and catch their second set instead.
My top 3 bands for the day were: 1. Metal Church 2. Freedom Call 3. Septicflesh - or Alestorm - or Dark Tranquillity crap, this is a hard one
To get a taste what all happened on Day Two watch the official Recap on http://70000tons.tv below
Stay tuned for our Day 3 report and make sure you check out the Photo galleries in the header.
||Written on 23.03.2018 by Former boss lady. Now just a professional concertgoer... dangerously armed with a camera!|
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