70.000 Tons Of Metal 2014

January 27-31, 2014
Miami – Costa Maya, Mexico

Report and pictures by Ingrid (I), Michael (M) and Laetitia (L)

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70.000 Tons of Metal 2014 marked the second time cruising for some of us. Everything seemed familiar: Miami, the ship, even some of the people, yet no less intriguing than the first time around. You’d think Michael as a true veteran (4th time!) has seen it all, but even for him this trip held some surprises. Read all about our adventures onboard of the Majesty of the Seas here!

This year’s cruise did not sail without a glitch. First, there was the lack of communication from the organization regarding everything. During the press conference, it was explained that chief Andy had been out of the running for several months and therefore there had been no news. They promised that with the upcoming cruise, it would not (and should not!) happen again. Also, after the departure from Miami, the running order was already delayed, since the stages weren’t fully constructed yet. Read our interview with chief Andy here!

Nevertheless, after waiting/drinking a little, it was finally time to watch some bands! Soilwork was the first band on one of the main stages: The Chorus Line Theatre. A lot of people showed up to watch them, which caused a nice and warm atmosphere on the boat to start this adventure. The enthusiasm wasn’t only with the fans, but also with the band itself. They played a good and very tight set. (I)

One deck above Soilwork, in the Spectrum Lounge, Atrocity unfortunately did not start that well. Their first couple of songs suffered from extreme bad sound mixing. And although we didn’t stay to see it happen; a little birdie told us that it got better after a few songs and the end of the show went pretty well. (I)

Next up in the Chorus Line Theater was Symphony X. In a crowded theater, they played a tight set, with songs as Dehumanized, When All is Lost and Sea of Lies. Everybody on stage seemed to be enjoying themselves, just as the crowd was.(M)

After a few hours it was finally time to burst loose on the Pool Deck! The honor of opening this, by now famous, Pool stage went to the Finnish trolls of.. Who else… Finntroll! The entire deck was filled with people bouncing, jumping, dancing and moshpitting (and slipping around). Finntroll played a great show which consisted mainly of songs from their two most recent albums during this set, but of course classics like Jaktens Tid and Trollhammaren couldn’t be left out. (I)

– Tuesday

How better to start your Tuesday on 70.000 Tons Of Metal, than with a doom band out in the Caribbean sun on the Pool Deck, right? ;) Ok well, the setting might not exactly fit the music, and for a second it seemed that not much people were up for this; but as soon as Swallow The Sun started playing, metalheads appeared out of every corner to watch their show. And with good reason because Swallow The Sun played tight, and we even witnessed a marriage proposal during the show! (I)

Keep of Kalessin was one of the later announcements that made us quite happy. Due to the late booking, they were accompanied by a replacement drummer. Keep of Kalessin’s first performance in the Spectrum Lounge was not very good. The sound was bad: the bass guitar dominated the mix and the clean vocals simply sounded false. Even classics, which were hardly recognizable due to the sound, could not safe this show. Fans who did bare through it, got rewarded with a new song however. (L)

Just a couple of months ago, Leaves Eyes released their latest studio album “Symphonies of the Night”. One could imagine that their first set on the Pool Deck would mainly consist of songs from that album. But luckily that was not the case. Leaves Eyes played a well-mixed set with harder and softer songs, to appeal a wide range of cruisers. My Destiny, Sypmhony of the Night and Elegy were among the songs that were played.(M)

It is always great to have a no nonsense death metal band aboard. Reformed (The Church of) Pungent Stench fulfilled the needs of people to hear some gory riffs, classic death metal vocals and pounding drums flawlessly. Thus to no one’s surprise, many metal heads were enjoying the weather and music out on the Pool Deck while these Austrians did their thing. (L)
A few decks below, the Greeks from Septic Flesh continued the party almost simultaneously. It was the first time any of us witnessed them live and their symphonic death metal (sometimes sounding a bit like a mix between Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir) does not disappoint. They gave an energetic show, which resulted in an equally as enthusiastic audience. (L)

Orphaned Land played their latest effort, All Is One, integrally in the Chorus Line Theater. Judging by big smiles on their faces, they were sincerely happy to be playing on the cruise (but hey, who wasn’t happy to be there). The five piece Israeli band spared no effort to encourage the audience to move. Yet the traditional eastern moves and melodic music only seemed get a small part of the people going. Quite a contrast to their second show, which you’ll read about later. (L)

Just after sundown, Dark Tranquility played in front of an extremely enthusiastic crownd on the Pool Deck. But then again, it is hard to stay standing still when you see singer Mikael Stanne run around on stage and having the time of his life. Gladly they played a great set, and more important: with good sound! (I’ve seen DT shows been ruined by bad sound more than once unfortunately). While Stanne was hanging around somewhere in and between the fences and the audience, we sang along with songs like The Fatalist, Wonders At Your Feet and The Mundane And The Magic. (I)

I was extremely excited to see Satyricon on board while they are one of my personal favorites. And even though Frost wasn’t allowed to play on the ship because, like Satyr explained during both shows, the American government is too busy with spying on our angry bird scores. Together with drummer Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork) who was supported by his sheet music, they played an almost flawless show! New songs like Our World, It Rumbles Tonight, The Infinity Of Time And Space and Walker Upon The Wind were magical. Old classic Mother North had some errors, mainly in the tempo of the song, but it was a hundred percent forgiven because they have had zero time to rehearse in this line up. (I)

On the maiden voyage of 70.000 Tons of Metal, I missed Fear Factory‘s sets for the most part because of a sinus infection. I made sure this would not happen to me again! So there I was, standing on the Pool Deck, as Fear Factory was about to play their first set. During one of the first announcements, it was revealed that Fear Factory would play Demanufacture in its entirety. The show was very tight, with the drums being very loud as usual, but not so much that it overpowered the rest. We even got to sing Happy Birthday to Matt!(M)

The quality of the live performances was already very high this evening and the death metallers of Carcass were no exception (if you disregarded the disgusting pictures they displayed on a video screen). The band mixed classics like No Love Lost with work from their newest record, Surgical Steel during their set and gave one of the most smooth shows on the cruise. (L)

Haggard is one of those bands that you either love or hate. Some people find the female notes close to uncomfortable, others love it. Well, I must say, standing on that stage as a twelve piece band, they surely delivered a great show. Because their songs are so long, they only played five, amongst which Tales of Ithiria and Herr Mannelig. Asis even went to play in the middle of the crowd on the Pool Deck! (M)

And then at midnight, it was finally time to watch the only Dutch band that was on board this year Izegrim! And we weren’t the only Dutchies there; a lot showed up to support them, but a lot of other fans as well since the Spectrum Lounge was pretty packed. They played a good show, and even though the ship had started to sway a little, a headbang could have been noticed here and there (even though it was pretty hard for Marloes to headbang on such a low stage with her long hair ;) ) (I) Check out our interview with Izegrim!

The last show in the theatre was played by Death DTA Tours 2014. For those who are unfamiliar with this group: it is a tribute of several musicians (among them Max Phelps and Paul Masvidal of Cynic and Steve DiGiorgio of Sadus) to former legendary metal band Death and deceased front man Chuck Schuldiner. Besides playing Death songs, they also showed a long, impressive video with old material of Schuldiner, to perhaps remind people that they were also honouring a friend. It clearly had an impact on the crowd, as it remained calm during the entire film. (L)

– Wednesday

Wednesday is Port day! Unfortunately we were a little late because the ship had to sail all the way to Costa Maya this year. So while enjoying our breakfast, we could see the coast of Mexico and when the port appeared it was time to get off the ship. We only had 4 hours, so most people couldn’t wait to get off! Fortunately all went well and everybody was off in no time! A lot of metalheads decided to stay at the beautiful beach area (to drink tequila and vomit afterwards, leaving a trail of vomit near the boat on our return), but we, and about 400 others with us, went to the Mayan temples. To make a short story even shorter: it was very impressive, but way to short!

When we got back on the ship, Gloryhammer was already playing their second set. I missed them on Monday, when they playes at 4AM. In the nicely filled Spectrum Lounge, Unicorns and Wizards once again met each other on the floor. The mood setting was awesome, even though (plactic) blades were crossing paths. More and more people joined the show and listened to Amulet of Justice, Magic Dragon and Angus McFife. (M)

Next show to watch for us was Orphaned Land again, but this time outside on the Pool Deck. Their second show consisted of a lot of the new songs from All Is One again, as well as some older songs. The audience was a lot more active during this second performance, which made the atmosphere a lot cozier. They kept on singing ‘ole ole ole Orphaned Land, Orphaned Land’ which resulted in big smiles on the band members their faces. They even dedicated a song to their friends from Egypte and Saudi Arabia who were in the audience, and during the last songs they summoned all ladies on the stage to bellydance! (I)

If you noticed the tiny flaws in the songs of Satyricon during their first set (which is totally understandable and we admire the fact that they performed despite everything, with a drummer that is inexperienced in these tunes and rhythms) you also must have noticed the second set was going even better. The set list of basically the same as the one of the first gig, with tracks like Mother North, Our World, It Rumbles Tonight, K.I.N.G and The Infinity of Time and Space. The band was not allowed to finish his set with Fuel For Hatred, which was a shame as the Norwegians gave very energetic performance. (L)

Haggard their second set was in the Chorus Line. Watching this show made me regret a little that I missed their first one, because it was enchanting. I was surprised that I was still able to sing and hum along with almost every song they played, like Per Aspera Ad Astra and Awaking The Centuries. Their show got a little mixed up, cause they thought they were running out of time and had to shorten their setlist, but in the end they were able to play everything fortunately!
We managed to watch a part of the second show of Carcass, who – to our surprise – just finished a classic song and blended it in Amon Amarth’s Pursuit of Vikings. A tribute to the songs they got in stuck in their minds since the bands were touring together. The atmosphere of the second show was nice, as the crowd actively organized several mosh pits to the tunes of this legendary group. (L)

One of the things that really attract me to a Dark Tranquillity show, is the massive amount of energy on stage, mainly by frontman Mikael Stanne. Well, on this cruise he not only showed this energy at the shows, but he was all over the place. Enjoying Karaoke, drinking with other bands or fans, you name it. During their second set, this time in the Chorus Line Theater, they brought their whole production. A couple of video screens were displayed, at the start of the set every fan of the Majesty was spoken to by a tape. Things like that make a show extra special. Not only that, but Mikael seeks contact with the fans constantly, which intensifies the experience that much more. During The Mundane and the Magic, he even let a cruise veteran sing the female lyrics through the microphone, while he was standing really close. (M)

During the first 70.000 Tons of Metal, Cripper surprised a lot of cruisers. Because of this, the unofficial Cripper award was brought to life, given to an unknown band who the fans enjoy the most on the cruise. I remember being hardly awake, at the early hours of the day, but being awakened by the brutal sound of this band. That’s why I just had to see them again, and surely, they did not disappoint. Powerful grunts and fast shredding kept everybody’s attention and people were already joking that the Cripper award would once again go to Cripper. (M)

The last band of the day was Terrorizer. Since a lot of cruisers already found their way to the karaoke (or way less metal, their beds), there were not so many people watching their set. I must say, they did miss out on an energetic experience. (M)

Thursday

Thursday marks the day that you’re definitely sailing back to Miami. To stir up this sad thoughts, we had to face the first Caribbean storm in the existence of 70.000 Tons of Metal.

Due to the storm, none of the bands could play on the Pool Deck. Therefore Atrocity and Keep of Kalessin had to move their gear inside to the theatre. The latter band gave a show that was way more impressive than the first gig. No false vocals or a badly mixed sound system. Even though it was early in the morning the Norwegians moved around on the stage as if it were, well.. a more suitable hour for this music style. All in all, I was happy to have watched the second show of Keep of Kalessin as well, as it restored my faith in them after the first show. (L)

Somehow I felt sorry for Izegrim during their second set in the Spectrum Lounge. Not because of the number of attendees, but more because of the way the ship was swaying and the effect of that. A couple of the band members also had themselves to thank, since they stayed up a bit too long the night before. Especially Jeroen seemed really pale and struggling. Kudo’s to them for still playing a really tight set and entertaining everyone who was there! (M)

Just a couple of months ago, Xandria announced that they had a new lead singer in Dianne van Giersbergen. She did a great job on the cruise and had no problems entertaining the people who came out to see them. The Chorus Line Theater was quite filled and whether this was because of the rain or if they just came to see Xandria, it really doesn’t matter, since it seemed as if everybody was clearly enjoying themselves.(M)

After Xandria things got a little tricky. It was no big problem to move the first bands that were supposed to play on the Pool Deck Stage to the Chorus Line, since the shows in the Chorus Line didn’t start before 5 pm; but now there were more bands on the schedule than there were stages to play on. But it didn’t take long until there was a new running order available and handed out everywhere on the ship. Some sets were a little shortened and some bands had to switch stages, but the organisation did an awesome job rescheduling, as if they have done it 70.000 times before. Some praise towards them !

Death Angel didn’t really like the fact that their show got shortened, as singer Mark Oseguenda mentioned about a 100 times on stage. I guess that if he hadn’t talked that much they could at least have played two songs more, so my feelings of sorry weren’t exactly with them. Nevertheless their show was really awesome. The energy that the band still had at this time of the cruise was almost inspiring, since by this time of the festival my own energy was nowhere to be found anymore. (I)

Twilight of the Gods cheated. When one promises a Bathory set, just playing two songs at the end of the set just won’t do it. Even if one of them is Blood Fire Death. The rest of the set was filled with their own material, as was their first show on the cruise. The authentic material of Twilight did not sound bad, but it was not nearly as magical as the tribute of Bathory I have seen before. The band also said that it was one of the last times they would perform Bathory tribute songs. So, if there is a next time, I might just skip this band. (L)

Finntroll seemed to be one of the most popular bands on the ship since also during their second set they got the venue packed to its fullest. This time they played a few more older and heavier songs; which was very well received by the audience, since there was a lot of dancing and moshpitting going on. Besides I think this show owns the record of ‘Most crowdsurfers during a show on 70.000 Tons Of Metal 2014’. The security didn’t seem to be very glad with this record, and they became a little too rough towards (mainly the male) crowdsurfers. But this didn’t kill the atmosphere and it seemed that as well the band (with a slightly, not totally sober anymore Vreth?) as the audience had a great time! (I)

I have watched both Symphony X shows, but to me this clearly was the best one. Once again, Russell Allen’s voice is just amazing, but the atmosphere in the Chorus Line Theater was spectacular. This show had everything. I saw people breaking down when Paradise Lost was played, dedicated to their sound engineer who passed away. Since then Symphony X did not even play that song anymore. Next to that, I saw people being amazed by every different section of the epos The Odyssey and even a couple of last year’s Pool Girls were being called on stage near the end. (M)

One of the last bands to see was Overkill. Despite giving of the final shows, their energy – and especially that of front man Bobby Blitz – was not matched by any other group on Thursday. With thrilling songs as Deny the Cross, Elimination and a moshing and cheering crowd, there was no better way for me to end this year’s trip (L). During Overkill their set, our skipper Andy Pillar said his words of thanks to all the fans that were at 70.000 Tons Of Metal 2014. We broke a record this year, since people from 61(!!!!!!) different countries were represented.

And so it was almost already the end of 70.000 Tons Of Metal again. Almost, but not quite yet at all. Because what would 70.000 Tons be without the famous metal karaoke?! Every evening around midnight the karaoke starts, and doesn’t end until the sun comes up. It is the perfect place to gather after the bands are done (or not done yet…) and watch your fellow fans, but also your metal heroes sing songs you’ll never expect!

The metal karaoke maybe is the best representation of the concept of 70.000 Tons Of Metal. No backstages, no VIP’s, but the most warm and relaxed atmosphere you can imagine, where fans are singing a song together with band members of their favourite bands and all of them having the time of their life! (I)

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