Live Gig Review and All Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
Day four was bittersweet. You were excited that it was the last marathon and overly exhausting yourself, and at the same time, you didn’t know how fast the entire trip flew by. I was exhausted at this point and every plan I had for that morning failed due to my body screaming at me stating “sleep in.” For those troopers out there that were awake and survived, I hope I can catch up to that energy next year. I initially woke up super early ( a good thing), and noticed the merchandise ticket was roughly ten numbers away from mine. While my eyes were barely open, I grabbed a pair of shoes and ran out with one of my shipmates to buy merchandise. I must say, the merchandise was disappointing. It seems as though it was the golden ticket but most of it were items you could order online aside from a few 70k itemized material. Again, would have been better off seeing it in the stores than the Michael Kors shops, etc. Anyhow, I’m glad the merchandise didn’t conflict with any shows, and in one aspect it made me miss Axxis, Amaranthe, Manegarm, Serenity, and the Belly Flop contest. Because all my body wanted to do was sleep.
I finally made it for the All Star Jam at 2 PM, and that started my shows for the day. The All Star Jam hosted by Jeff Waters of Annihilator brought different subgenres of metal together, mixing artists that you would never expect to see sharing a stage. The All-Star Jam and in no particular order of the event, featured Lisa Cuthbert of Draconian and Elize Ryd of Amaranthe sharing the microphone during Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with Touch of the Sun’s Russell Bergquist (bass), Alex Skolnick (guitar) of Testament, Fabio Alessandrini (drums) of Annihilator, and special guest guitarist Laura Christine. If you thought that was a mix up well, there was plenty more including Therion’s Thomas Vikstrom (vocals), Death Angel’s Will Carroll (drums), Philip Restemeier of Xandria (guitar), Alex Ritt of Grave Digger (guitar), Frank Bello of Anthrax (bass) performing Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper.” Jeff Waters teamed up with Mark Osegueda of Death Angel (vocals), Will Carroll (drums) of Death Angel, Alex Skolnick (Testament), Fabio D’Amore (Serenity) performing AC/DC’s “Riff Raff.”
It was interesting seeing these pairings; it makes you see a different side of artists including Elize Ryd and Lisa Cuthbert singing Ozzy Osbourne’s “Flying High Again” with Charlie Benante of Anthrax (drums), Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry (guitar), and Steve Digiorgio (bass) of Testament. We also heard Van Halen’s “Romeo Delight” performed by Thomas Vikstrom of Therion (vocals), Fabio Alessandrini (drums) of Annihilator, Jeff Waters (guitar), and Russell Bergquist of Touch the Sun (bass).
The surprises continued when we heard Motorhead’s “Killed By Death” bringing Cuthbert and Ryd back on the stage, and it was alluring seeing their chemistry together as vocalists. Kalmah’s Janne Kusmin (drums) were also there along with seeing a different side of Amorphis’ Esa Holopainen (guitar) and Xandria’s Steven Wussow (bass). However, it was Holopainen’s performance during one of my favorite classic WASP songs “I Wanna Be Somebody.” He moved like an 80’s glam rocker and it was glorious while he shared the stage with Serenity’s Georg Neuhauser (vocals), Xandria’s Gerit Lamm (drums), Rich Ward (guitar) of Stuck Mojo, and DiGiorgio (bass) of Testament.
We also heard Def Leppard’s “Wasted” with Linnea Vikstrom (vocals) of Therion, Van Williams (drums) of Ghost Ship Octavius, Rich Ward of Stuck Mojo (guitar), Erik Peterson (guitar) of Testament and Fabio D’Amore (bass) of Serenity. One of the three biggest surprises was seeing Blitz of Overkill grabbing the microphone during Judas Priest’s “Grinder” with Van Williams (drums) of Ghost Ship Octavius, Peterson (guitar) of Testament, Axel Ritt (guitar) of Grave Digger, and Rich Hinks (bass) of Annihilator.
Would you ever picture Therion’s Linnea Vikstrom grabbing the microphone and teaming with Testament’s Alex Skolnick (guitar)? Well, I never would have pictured that and they did during Dio’s “Stand Up And Shout” with Charlie Benante (drums) of Anthrax and Xandria’s Wussow (bass). The biggest surprise was hearing Cannibal Corpse’s “Hammer Smashed Face.” I have never seen Dying Fetus’ John Gallagher move so much during a Dying Fetus show, and he mastered that mic during this cover with Ben Ash of Carcass (guitar) flipping his hair around along with Aaron Homma (bass) of Annihilator and Gene Hoglan (drums) of Testament.
At this point you would wonder, where’s Metallica during this entire performance? Of course, they saved it for last with Metallica’s “Metal Militia” bringing Anthrax’s Scott Ian on stage along with Mark Osegueda of Death Angel, Gene Hoglan of Testament, D.D. Verni of Overkill, and Aaron Homma of Annihilator. It was a jam-packed, and if you left early, you would end up missing one hell of a super smash up performance.
Phew! After seeing so many mixed moshed acts, it was time for me to see something different with the German mittel alter rockers or medieval metallers, Saltatio Mortis at the Alhambra Theater. They have never played in North America and based on what I saw, they should. Frontman Alea der Bescheidene gives everything you would ever want in a live performance, surpassing his vocal delivery by conquering the stage with endless facial expressions, twists, turns, jumps, and metal horns. I was taken back by their performance, and I hope during this trip they connected with a few bands from the states to schedule a North American tour.It was time for me to run to the Ice Rink to catch Omnium Gatherum’s second set. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the full performance, but I managed to see a decent amount. The area was packed with fans, and they played a few songs from their latest album Grey Heavens with songs including “Skyline” and “Frontiers.” I was rushing a bit trying to catch as many acts as I could. I ran back to the Alhambra Theater for Pain especially after regretfully missing their first set. Peter Tägtgren is a genius, and it would be cruel if you missed out on Pain. He performed a bunch of older material, and gave a decent mix including new songs from 2016’s ‘Coming Home’ with songs including “Call Me.”After watching a bit of Pain’s set, it was time to run to the Ice Rink stage to catch some Austrian symphonic metal with Edenbridge. During this time, their new album ‘The Great Momentum’ didn’t release yet, and I wanted to see what they were like live since it was a first for me. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like too many people knew who they were since the room wasn’t as full as it should. What bothered me the most was the Superbowl was happening. An area was designated for the game at one of the bars near the Ice Rink for all to watch it. Seeing the game on took away the meaning of this metal cruise. Maybe that’s just my opinion, but it was sad to see people missing a show because they couldn’t miss the game.Edenbridge never stepped foot in North America; one would think to check them out, right? Maybe that’s just me but, I was there for the bands and not for an Americanized beer guzzling, hot dog crushing tradition that is the Superbowl when you would obviously catch the updates all over Facebook, the news and most likely video recaps of it on YouTube. Yes, you get that for certain shows but, to see a band live vs. watching clippings on YouTube a different feeling. Anyway, Edenbridge was great, and I’m glad I made it to their set. Hopefully, they will find a way to team up with Delain, Sonata Arctica or Nightwish for a North American Tour.
At this point, I had to run back to the Alhambra Theater just in time for the second set of Brazilian power metallers Angra. This time around, they had a special treat for everyone performing 1996’s ‘Holy Land’ in its entirety to continue its 20-year celebration. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch a few songs because I had to run to see Arch Enemy on the Pool Deck. I got there just in time for a few songs. As a Nevermore fan, I had to be there for Jeff Loomis. The best part about bands playing twice is, you have a second chance, and that brings me to running back to the Alhambra Theater to catch Anthrax. I lost count how many times I have seen them live, however; I never get tired of it. I stayed for a good chunk of the set and unfortunately missed “Antisocial.” However, I was there for “Caught in a Mosh” they even did something for the NFL with the classic “Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.),” “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t,” and their tribute piece to Dimebag and Dio with “In The End.” For me, the night ended with Therion on the pool deck. I had to see what could have been Christofer Johnsson’s final performance. They played a similar set to the first one and ended with Johnsson informing his fans, “Thank you very much. It’s a bloody pain in the ass to play the guitar like this but, you guys make it worth it. Thank you for all of the support from all of you guys. It really means a lot. You guys are pretty good, you’re not going to get rid of me that easily. But if worse comes to worse and this will be my last performance, I just can’t imagine a better place to do it with 74 different nationalities in an open sea, after midnight in the Caribbean. We’ve been to over 60 countries, sold over 1 million albums, I’ve fulfilled every one of my dreams. I’m not afraid. Either way, it’s a victory. I’m a tough mother fucker.” Shortly after his statement, they went into their traditional closer with “To Mega Therion.” Skipper joined the stage during Therion’s performance announcing round 8 of 70,000 tons of Metal would be on the same Independence of the Seas ship during Feb 1-5 2018 at Cockburn Town in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
At this point of the night, I gave myself a choice. The option was to see Death Angel or drop my gear, join a few friends for drinks and karaoke. I decided to remove my gear and adhere to the exhaustion mixed with intoxicated madness. On the final night after days of no sleep, you feel that you are in an insane asylum. The Clock was well passed midnight, which made it my birthday. Due to exhaustion, I unexpectedly bumped into an intoxicated friend cursing me out from my hello not reaching his expectations whom we refuse to speak to till this day. After the random unnecessary and childish dramatic stint, I finally found my shipmates. After roughly 30 minutes of letting loose, one of my shipmates realized he had too much to drink and the night ended with all of us carrying him back to the room like a happy metalhead family looking after for one another. And that’s what happens when you decide to miss a performance. Lesson learned again, never miss a performance.Next time I will find a way to multi-task since you end up seeing blown up Dinosaurs, Super Troopers, dragons in metal vest attire, flying adult objects, and more. Bottom line, 70,000 tons of Metal is the most exhausting and exhilarating time of your life. Once you go, you know you have to go again and again.