An adventure review from a fan’s perspective, or what it was like on the cruise!
by Carrie aka Metal Goddess
Imagine the best vacation ever. 2,000 of my metal brothers and sisters from around the world and I just experienced the most amazing event in the history of metal festivals. A heavy metal buffet served aboard a grand and glorious cruise ship! In case you have been living under a rock for the last year and haven’t heard about it, let me tell you about 70,000 Tons of Metal.
70,000 Tons of Metal was billed as the “World’s Largest Floating Heavy Metal Festival,” and it delivered. 42 metal bands of all metal genres played for four days aboard Royal Caribbean’s ship, “Her Majesty of the Seas.” The cruise set sail in Miami then cruised onto Cozumel, Mexico and back over the course of four incredible days (January 24 to January 28, 2011). A few thought it was unattainable, in fact, canceling their reservations because they didn’t think it would happen. Poor saps, they missed out. You can view the full lineup of bands here: http://www.70000tons.com/artists.htm
Many of us flew into Miami early to enjoy the city before the cruise to enjoy the sunshine and meet up to party. Walking up and down Miami beach, we ran into fellow cruisers as well as cruise bands all taking in the sites of Miami. It was obvious that the international metal community had taken over Miami.
Thanks to the internet, many of us fellow cruisers had been chatting for months and had gotten to know each other. It was so cool meeting people I had been chatting with from Australia, Germany, Canada, Ireland, England, Sweden, etc., and the local Florida peeps. Our Florida friend, Captain Metal, coordinated a pre-party show Sunday, January 23, in downtown Miami with some great local metal bands.
It was a challenge for many of us to get to the Port of Miami on Monday, as there was a public memorial for two fallen officers at the huge arena close to the port. Roads were closed and traffic was backed up. Thank goodness the local Miami peeps gave us a heads up so we got an early start.
We arrived at the Port of Miami to board this mammoth ship. I’ve never been on a cruise, so I had no idea what to expect. Not a lot of security on the outside, they must have been at the memorial across the street. Getting onto the ship is similar to going through an airport. Do you know how funny it is to watch hundreds of metalheads dressed in leather, studs and steel-toed shoes going through a metal detector? Ha! Everyone was way cool, and we all got through it just fine.
After boarding the ship, we found our room, dropped off our stuff and headed to the top deck. Around every corner was a Royal Caribbean crew member asking if we wanted a drink, so we bought a bucket of beer to begin our adventure. All 2,000 of us, the bands, and the crews were all waiting for the ship to set sail.
I had listened to all of the bands online over the last few months, as well as the metal channel on satellite radio (which I’m surprised was not a sponsor). However, I did not look at pictures of the bands, so I did not recognize very many of them. A lot of us fans are also in metal bands and look it. One big happy metal family.
At 4:15 p.m., everyone, including the bands, had to go through the “Compulsory Guest Muster Drill.” We broke up into our assigned “musters” and had to chug our drinks before drill. It was great fun. I was in Muster 7, along with my friends Evil Red and Hodgy from Seattle, as well as the Fear Factory guys! Muster 1 was by far the loudest and most rowdy. After we were done being shown how to use our life vests and where our assigned lifeboats were, we were back on to the deck to watch the departure. We left dock at around 6:30 p.m. after a beautiful Miami sunset.
The bands played in three different venues, the Chorus Line Theater, the Spectrum Lounge and the Pool Deck. They covered one of the two pools on the deck in front of the Pool Deck stage for more standing room. The Chorus Line Theatre was a larger, elegant venue where they normally have Broadway-type shows on regular cruises, and the Spectrum Lounge, which was a smaller, more intimate venue. The sound in all three venues was very good once it was finally dialed in. The running order of the bands was overlapping in many instances, which meant missing or running to the next show. You can view the running order here: http://www.70000tons.com/order.htm
The first band to play was EXODUS at 7 p.m. Monday night in the Chorus Line Theatre. They did not have much time to set up, do a sound check, etc., after boarding the boat, so the shows in that venue were about an hour behind schedule. All 42 of the bands were scheduled to play at least two times, so we went for dinner, found our luggage and settled in our room.
We ventured back out at 12:30 a.m. to find FEAR FACTORY rocking the pool deck. It was the most amazing thing, to be on the deck of a cruise ship watching Fear Factory play in the warm Caribbean breeze with a remarkable sound and light show.
We stayed out on the deck because it was so lovely, the partially full moon in the sky, to see the next band, FINTROLL. I had briefly listened to them online, but they definitely were better live! We enjoyed their set immensely! They are not a band I would have normally bought tickets to see, but that was the beauty of this lineup—all types of metal to give us a chance to experience all of them.
Tuesday was a beautiful day. We got up, had breakfast (bacon and mimosas), put on our swim suits and headed for the pool deck. We jumped in one of the two hot tubs on the deck with our new international friends to watch CRIPPER at 10 a.m. (yes, that’s right). I had listened to them and had them on my list to see, but I didn’t realize they were fronted by a powerhouse female singer. Fucking excellent!
Next band to hit the Pool Deck was AGENT STEEL, who was high on my list of bands to see. I got out of the hot tub to get closer to the stage to watch these guys and their classic style of heavy metal. I was wondering why the singer was singing lyrics off paper. After asking, I found out their singer Jon Cyriis could not make the trip, so Rick Mythiasin from STEEL PROPHET filled in. Later, James Rivera of HELSTAR joined in for a couple of songs. They did a kickass cover of JUDAS PRIEST’s “Ripper” in their set. Great band!
We had another drink, then laid out in the sun while TYR played. What an unusual, unique style of music—folk metal. It was very cool to listen to!
After a lunch break, we headed back out to the Pool Deck to see FORBIDDEN. I had never seen them and loved their music, so I pushed myself up to the front to headbang. Fucking killer set from these Bay Area artists. I’ll be damned if I didn’t meet Russ the singer when I first got on the boat, but didn’t know it was him. He was probably wondering why I didn’t say something at that time. I concentrate on listening to the music more that what a band looks like, as it should be.
We had a couple of drinks while waiting for OBITUARY to hit the Pool Deck. One of my favorite bands! I watched the first couple of songs from the top deck, then headed down to the floor to headbang along side my one of my best friends, Evil Red. The sound was as good in front as it was in the back. I’ve seen OBITUARY a few times and have never been disappointed. The atmosphere was electric!!
After OBITUARY we took a dinner break and ate a couple of tables away from them. Wow. How cool is that?
We then headed to the Spectrum Lounge for an intimate set with SANCTUARY. Wow, it was so cool seeing the band together again! It was very crowded in there so we weren’t able to get too close since we were late getting there. They sounded great and were definitely jazzed by the crowd!
Needing some fresh air, we headed outside to check out the last of EPICA. They were not at the top of my list of bands to see, but their live performance was very cool. Many of us metal fans are also scifi geeks, so when they broke out with Darth Vader’s theme ala metal, we were drawn in.
We wanted to see more bands, but knew we had to get up for our excursion to Cozumel the next morning, so we went to bed.
After spending the day zip lining, shopping, and drinking margaritas in Cozumel, we went back on the ship to clean up, eat and get ready for some more metal shows. The first show we hit was GAMMA RAY on the Pool Deck. This was another band that I was not that familiar with, but the crowd sure was! I walked over by the sound booth to check out the set up. No wonder all the bands sounded so good. World class sound by a world class crew!
At 10 p.m. I headed back outside to see EXODUS since I missed them the first night. I love the bay area thrash, and it was so cool to have so many of them on the ship! Saw them last August at Ozzfest in California, but there was something even more magical about watching them play on the deck of a cruise ship!
After EXODUS, I went back to the theatre to watch SAXON. I was in awe that I was actually there seeing them perform “Strong Arm of the Law.” Another of my favorite traditional style metal bands! I was spent after that, and hit the cabin. Many of my friends, however, joined the cruise bands at Boleros for some metal karaoke until like 7 a.m. in the morning.
Thursday morning for us started out bright and early at 10 a.m. with SWASHBUCKLE, a pirate metal band (yes, you heard me right). Bunch of cool guys, and funny as hell! They literally rocked the Cruise Ship Terror!!
We then went inside to see a band called ARSIS. I have to say that they were my favorite band on this cruise that I had not really listened to before. The music was traditional thrash with dual guitar leads, right up my alley. They all made such great technical music look so easy, and it sounded so good. So, four horns up for ARSIS! If you haven’t heard them yet, do check them out.
After lunch and waiting forever to buy merchandise, we went inside the Chorus Line Theatre to watch VOIVOD. This is another band I really like that I had not seen in a while, but still performed an amazing set.
We did not stay outside for the belly flop contest as it was a bit chilly outside on Thursday. Not sure who won or if anyone entered. We went back in to see another show by OBITUARY in the Chorus Line Theatre.
After OBITUARY, we went back outside to see TWILIGHT OF THE GODS, a BATHORY tribute band. Many online were bashing 70,000 Tons for scheduling a tribute band, but the large crowd did not seem to mind! We enjoyed it as well!
We took a drink and snack break, then headed to the Spectrum Lounge to see RAVEN. That was most fun I had at any of the shows on the cruise. They are amazing now as they were in the 80’s. Crazy fuckers! I love RAVEN! I could kick myself for not seeing them when they were here in Seattle a few months ago. I had the honor of talking to them at the bar later that night. What cool guys!
After RAVEN, we went back out to the Pool Deck again to watch the last few songs by DEATH ANGEL. I had forgotten what a kickass thrash band they were. I saw them with NEVERMORE here in Seattle years ago, definitely want to see them again!
SABATON played the Pool Deck while we were eating dinner. Rumor had it, and it is now officially confirmed and documented on YouTube, that one of the members of SABATON was thrown in the pool after their set for wearing a LADY GAGA shirt. Hahaha! My sweet friend Madda from Hollywood made him wear it. Chaching! Here’s a link to one of the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5OfQ8JoHKc
After dinner, we went to see the great TESTAMENT in the Chorus Line Theater. Words cannot describe how fucking cool that show was. After TESTAMENT, we watched a couple of songs by folk metal band KOPRIKLAANI outside, a very different kind of metal, then followed my friends to see the end of the MALEVOLENT CREATION show in the Spectrum Lounge.
After SODOM, we went outside to watch MOONSPELL for a while, then decided to go back to the room for a bit. Unfortunately, we fell asleep and missed a few bands we wanted to see. I woke up in time to go see the last band on the cruise, DUSK MACHINE. I really enjoyed their set and it was so cool to see the very last band and the very last song on the cruise, ending at 3:15 a.m. on the dot.
I then went to Boleros Lounge to watch the karaoke taking place, after hearing what fun everyone had on Wednesday night. Many of my friends and many band members were there drinking and visiting. I had the epic pleasure of singing JUDAS PRIEST’s “Turbo Lover” with WARREL DANE, along with my friends, Rhiannon and Hector. It was so much fun partying with everyone, closing the bar down at 6 a.m.
Now for some of the other events on ship, that we did not have time to participate in. Three workshops were scheduled Thursday afternoon. One was a bass workshop with John Gallagher from RAVEN, another was a guitar workshop with Victor Smolski from RAGE, and the third was the ULI JON ROTH seminar.
There were meet and greets scheduled in the Boleros Lounge on Tuesday and Thursday, but I didn’t feel the need to miss live music in order to meet the bands in person. Besides, they were at shows, eating in the dining room with us and drinking at the bars. I didn’t bother bands, but I did a lot of smiling, nodding and winking at them. They knew how I felt, because I think they felt the same.
There were also some spa and exercise events, but who had time for that? I was really hoping to exercise and get a massage, but I had to eat, sleep and watch bands! The casino also had a poker tournament, which I think some participated in.
We debarked the ship starting at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, which was hell for some of the metalheads, so many of us didn’t even go to bed Thursday night. We went right to a hotel near the airport to rest, since our flight left very early Saturday Morning.
A post-party featuring TESTAMENT was held in Ft. Lauderdale last night (Saturday, January 29). Hopefully, the rest of our friends were able to stay and enjoy!
I was a little bummed out that there were about 12 bands we didn’t get to see that we wanted to because of rest, eating, drinking, etc. I know they had to at least break even in this venture, if not making a profit, because all the alcohol sold. I heard a rumor that it was an all time alcohol sales record for the first day of a cruise! I know they were out of merlot and Foster's beer late Wednesday. Ah, what a party.
If they do it 70,000 Tons again next year (which is rumored to be on), I have the following suggestions: Bigger ship. At least another day. A warmer time of year. A little more time to rest & exercise to take care of ourselves without missing bands. More time and a quicker way to sell merchandise—that was a failure, in my opinion.
All hails to the sponsors, the promoters, the sound crew, Allison & Andy, and everyone who coordinated this amazing event. My little metal world has now expanded into a big, wide universe. It will take weeks if not months, to wipe the smile off my face. \m/
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