Live Gig Review and All Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
It is impossible to prepare for the biggest Metal Cruise, 70,000 tons of Metal. A first-time for both Myglobalmind and myself, boarding an adventure and marathon such as this, and hopefully, not the last. Originally scheduled for 60 bands that turned into 61, consisting of fans from across the world, 74 different nationalities, making it one of the best and exhausting experiences you will have in your life. Let’s face it if you think you will sleep, think again.
Let’s start with day one, February 2, 2017. The first day was a tiring struggle especially the security line, customs, and a few other check-in points. However, once you are greeted by the gorgeous 70,000 tons of Metal women handing out 70,000 tons of Metal pamphlets, you get a second dose of energy. There was enough time to grab a quick bite before the first band, and this is when I discovered the pizza bar. After having one bite from the cardboard pizza, I remember making an oath to myself never to eat it again. Who would have thought that pizza would have become my delirious best friend? With that said, anything can and will happen on this cruise.
My initial goal for the trip was to see all 61 acts at least once, which ended up not happening for many reasons, and if you read through this entire piece, you will understand why. Now, I have never been on a cruise in my life nor did I know how to get to the stages, it was confusing at first walking between the Ice Rink and Alhambra Theater. Luckily, I made it to the first act of the entire trip, Swedish melodic death metallers Scar Symmetry. Their energy woke me up, reminding why we were there with songs “The Shape of Things to Come,” “Neohuman,” and “Retaliator.” The rush began, and it was time to run Swedish metallers Amaranthe’s set at the Alhambra Theatre. Despite Amaranthe’s new ‘Maximalism’ album featuring more pop influences, they are enjoyable live. At first, I wasn’t excited hearing “Boomerang,” but they nailed it on the stage and evened it out with one of my favorite songs from them with “Hunger.”
At this point I noticed, the night would be a running marathon between the Alhambra Theater and Ice Rink stages. Shortly after Amaranthe, I ran back to the Ice Rink to see California thrashers, Death Angel. I believe, I stayed for their full set, it was nice sitting down for a bit and banging my head to some thrash metal, hearing a few songs from their new album ‘The Evil Divide.’ At this time, the schedule altered in the Alhambra Theater, noticing California thrash giants Testament wasn’t even close to starting. Little did I know, the theater ended up being over 40 minutes delayed. It was disappointing since I was on a tight schedule trying to see as many bands as possible. I was able to see a quick glimpse of them, but looking at the schedule, I said, “I will catch them next time,” I ran back to the Ice Rink for some Finnish pagan metal with Moonsorrow’s first set. After a few back to back thrashers, Moonsorrow darkened the vibe, and I watched their entire set. It was mesmerizing to the point that time didn’t matter, making me forget about my strict schedule as I headbanged along to their music.
I stayed around the Ice Rink area, waiting for Devildriver and curious to hear snippets from their new album ‘Trust No One.’ Secondly, I couldn’t pass up seeing Dez Fafara; he takes me back to my younger years when I was obsessed with Coal Chamber. I saw a few songs since I had to run to the Alhambra Theater for Arch Enemy. By the time I got there, it was pure chaos; it seemed that everyone had the same agenda. I didn’t stay too long, I watched maybe one or two songs including “War Eternal,” and decided it was time to take a break and decided to eat more cardboard pizza. The second time around I said, “hmm, not bad.” The change in appetite made me realize it was after midnight, and the exhaustion was setting in. After a short break, I ran back to the Ice Rink to catch a bit of Swedish death metal with Unleashed. Glad I made it for the first set because little did I know I would miss the second. I stayed there for a decent amount and heard a few songs including “If They Had Eyes,” and “The Avenger.”
At this point, it was well past 1 AM, and the Alhambra Theater was still delayed. Part of me wanted to go to sleep, and the other part was fighting to stay awake for Norwegian folk metallers Trollfest. It was quite the struggle, but I stopped running between theaters and stayed at the Alhambra Theater, and that’s when I regret missing Pain’s first set. However, Finnish melodic death metallers Kalmah gave me a last minute second wind during songs “Hollow Heart,” “Heroes to Us’ and “The Black Waltz.” At this time of the night, the crowd’s energy significantly slowed down. They stood there, wanting to stay away looking like zombies in the night. It was hysterical to observe and more visible during Marduk’s set that started after their initial 3 AM set time. I forced myself to stay awake for all of Marduk especially since they were one of my top five reasons why I booked the trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it for Trollfest. The next morning I heard all about their performance including the conga line, and it made me realize for next year, I will never pick sleep over a performance.