Live Report and Photos by: Zenae Zukowski
Here at MyGlobalMind, this is our third year covering 70000tons of Metal. With that being said, three times is always a charm. On Round 9 of 70000tons of Metal, we covered more bands than ever (47 out of 60 and made it to a few double sets). However, we somehow made time for naps, fine dining, and conversations with fellow cruisers and band members. The voyage took place on January 31st, 2019 and wrapped up on February 4th as we returned to Haiti’s Labadee. Our ship was once again Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.
Going through customs and the general boarding went much faster than the last two years as luckily, there were no lines. Some of us had time to make sure our blow-up companions would go through security without any issues or deflations. Everything seemed the same at first as the 70000tons of Metal pool girls greeted us. However, the overall Royal Caribbean staff and the ship itself had a few adjustments including changing the name of the Pyramid lounge to the Star lounge and the Alhambra theater to the Royal Theater. Despite these changes including the Karaoke location, some things remained the same including getting lost, thinking theaters vanished into a dark Bermuda-Triangle-esque vortex, the pizza always being there whenever you needed something to eat, and of course, welcoming new cruisers to a fresh can of Fosters.
However, one of the most significant changes we’ve seen and remained unforgettable as we will never wash our hands the same way, ever again is: on day one when everyone entered the Windjammer buffet, Royal Caribbean surprised us with a 61st band as two dudes rocked out to a song called, “Washy Washy.” Unfortunately, the merch system didn’t improve at all as we’ve seen people spend the first-night missing bands as they camped out waiting to get their merch. Hopefully, one year they will fix this for more people to have a better opportunity to purchase merch without missing bands. However, once again, there were barely any lines to buy a designer purse. As we had a chance to have a few hours to re-familiarize ourselves with the boat and a moment to socialize, it was only a matter of time until Delain, and Mors Principium Est opened up Day One of 70000tons of Metal. However, we decided to be a little bit risky as we had too much fun reconnecting with our 70k family and decided to start the first day with Tyr as we expected nothing would go wrong for us to miss their second set.
When we ran to the Studio B – Ice Rink theater, there was a significant and unsafe change. Simply put, walking down the steps this year was very difficult. As this trip is also known for being a booze cruise, there was one massive gap at the bottom step, which we’ve seen people fall and gash their legs from missing that giant step. Additionally, the step wasn’t easy for those who were under five feet tall as the gap was more or less half their height. Hopefully, Royal Caribbean will make safer adjustments for round 10. Additionally, the stage was missing trashcans on the floor, which made it easier for cups to be scattered across for all to slip and fall on.
Moving forward, it was time for Tyr to take the Studio B stage at 18:45. These Faroe Island folk metallers were there to promote their new album Hel, which will be released on March 8th via Metal Blade Records. Seeing these guys perform on the cruise was worth-while as their last appearance in North America was at a much smaller and darker venue. The group maintained a fun energy as they introduced two new songs “Gates of Hel,” and “Fire and Flame.” The group also had time to go into a vast amount of material such as “Hail to the Hammer” from 2002’s How Far to Asgaard, “Ramund Hin Unge,” from 2003’s Eric The Red, as well as later tracks including “The Lay of Thrym,” “Lady of the Slain,” “By the Sword in My Hand,” and more.
Next up, it was time for some Swedish black metal as we caught up with Dark Funeral’s set at 19:30 in the Royal Theater. The group continued to support their latest effort 2016’s Where Shadows Forever Reign as this time, dark and malicious lights were a necessity. Heljarmadr engaged the audience with hellish vocals while Lord Ahriman led each track with diabolical riffs. Songs included “Unchain My Soul,” “666 Voices Inside,” “My Dark Desires,” “Shadows Over Transylvania,” “The Arrival of Satan’s Empire,” “Temple of Ahriman,” “Ravenna Strigoi Mortii,” “Atrum Regina,” “The Secrets of the Black Art,” and “Where Shadows Forever Reign.”
Aside from having a quick glimpse, we tend to skip the Star Lounge each year. It’s one of our most straightforward process of elimination on the cruise. Therefore, day one is always a matter of walking back and forth from Studio B to the Royal Theater and this night was no different as it was time to run back to Studio B to catch the Italian symphonic death metal giants, Fleshgod Apocalypse. While the band was planning to have an exclusive premiere of their new album, they had to postpone that opportunity due to production setbacks. Instead, the group brought a ferocious set continuing to support 2016’s King. However, they made time for a live debut of their new song “Fury.” The track sounds a mix between King and Agony, as it also blended nicely with their entire performance that included songs such as “The Fool,” “King,” and “The Violation.” Despite the group’s changeup seeing Francesco Paoli on lead vocals and the continuous edition of Veronica Bordacchini, their overall performance was just as engaging.
As the night progressed, it was time to lighten the mood somewhat to catch Soulfly at 21:15 at the Royal Theater. These groove metallers were there to promote their latest effort Ritual, which was released last year via Nuclear Blast. The theater was packed full with fans raising their horns to the one and only, Max Cavalera. The set was a mix between Ritual to everything in between as they pumped out a heavy performance with songs “The Summoning,” “Under Rapture,” “Fire/Porrada,” “Prophecy,” “Babylon,” “I and I,” “Arise Again,” “Rise of the Fallen,” “Dead Behind the Eyes,” “Back to the Primitive,” and “No.”
We were crushed when Bloodbath was forced to cancel their North American tour last year. Therefore, there was no way in hell we would miss Bloodbath’s set on 70000tons of Metal as we raced to Studio B to make it for their 22:15 slot. Luckily we arrived, and ultimately, they gave us a second wind. The Swedish death metal supergroup featuring members of Katatonia, Paradise Lost, and Opeth were there to promote their latest effort 2018’s The Arrow of Satan is Drawn. They gave a chilling performance filled with heavy riffs, bloody makeup as they went through songs such as “Bloodicide,” “Cry My Name,” “So You Die,” “Chainsaw Lullaby,” and “Breeding Death.”
After we heard the news of bassist Peter Baltes leaving Accept, we were curious to see their Royal Theater set at 23:15. While they didn’t bring an entire symphony with them, we did see these German heavy metal legends perform their hits marking Wolf Hoffmann as the only original member. However, we’ve gotten used to seeing Mark Tornillo who’s been fronting the band since 2009. Regardless, it was a phenomenal performance as they carried out an entertaining set with songs “Die by the Sword,” “Stalingrad,” “Restless and Wild,” “No Regrets,” “Shadow Soldiers,” “Princess of the Dawn,” “Midnight Mover,” “Up to the Limit,” “Pandemic,” “Fast as a Shark,” “Metal Heart,” “Teutonic Terror,” and “Balls to the Wall.”
As much as we love Accept, it was time for us to have a reality check on life as it offers us many doom and gloom moments. With that being said, we caught up with Sweden’s Tiamat’s Studio B set at 00:15. The dimly lit stage helped the bleak mood as the group brought in an emotional presentation filled with shattered darkness during songs such as “Cain” and “Cold Seed.”
Sodom opened up the after hour set as it was time to hit the Royal Theater at 01:15. We were looking forward to seeing these German thrashers as it was our first time seeing Blackfire with the group as he rejoined last year, which was nearly thirty years since he left the band back in 1989. The group awakened the dark side of thrash as they performed songs “Sodomy and Lust,” “Blasphemer,” “Tired and Red,” “Partisan,” “One Step Over the Line,” “Persecution Mania,” “The Crippler,” “Agent Orange,” “Outbreak of Evil,” “Remember the Fallen,” and “Bombenhagel.”
Despite what we’ve seen so far, everything changed when the Dutch symphonic death metal outfit MaYaN walked onto Studio B’s stage at 02:15. The group was there to promote their latest effort, 2018’s Dhyana via Nuclear Blast. This was perhaps the most interesting, intriguing, and inventive sets on the entire cruise as it features over ten members and five singers. For starters, the band includes two members from Epica: Mark Jansen and Ariën van Weesenbeek. While Weesenbeek maintained the drummer role that we know him for, Jansen walked on the stage without a guitar. It was our first experience seeing the group live and a colossal changeup seeing Jansen as a vocalist.
With that said, Delain’s Merel Bechtold was there as well as Frank Schiphorst, Adam Denlinger, Jack Driessen, and a handful more. We didn’t know where to begin or end looking on the stage as it was difficult to grasp there’s a band out there that has more members than Eluveitie. Their performance blew us away as not only did their music stand out, each member had a lot of freedom, and it genuinely looked like they were enjoying themselves. One thing to note, the group had a few similar actions as Epica such as pointing at Weesenbeek towards the end of the set. However, the band surprised us as they took advantage of their said freedom to cover songs from After Forever.
At this point of the night, we wanted to call it a day as MaYaN would have been the best way to end an incredible Day One. However, we had to stay awake for Exmortus. Therefore, we walked to the Royal Theater to catch The Black Dahlia Murder at 3:00. These Michigan melodic death metal masters are no stranger to us as they continued to support 2017’s Nightbringers. Trevor Strnad took advantage of the stage as he walked around it throughout the performance. For a 3:00 am show and based on previous years, the theater was quite full during their set as it made a few of us feel at home during such a late hour.
However, it was time for some classic death metal, the style we’ve grown to love with Morbid Angel influences. Colombian death metal giants Masacre took the Studio B stage at 3:45am as they gave a relentless set filled with relentless aggression. Their performance remained captivating as they floored through songs “Brutales Masacres,” “La Guerra,” “Cortejo Funebre,” “Slaves of Death,” “Exodo,” “Donde Habita el Mal,” “Sepulcros en Ruinas,” “Satanic Peace Agreement,” and “Death Metal Forever.”
After a ferocious set, it was time to generate a third wind of the night as Temperance took the Royal Theater at 4:30 am. The Italian modern symphonic metal outfit just signed to Napalm Records as we were blown away by their stunning show. Between their musical style towards charismatic presentation, it was this moment that made us grateful that we didn’t go to sleep just yet. Alessia and Michele’s energy was nonstop as they also proved you could swing and dance to metal. We hope the group will find their way to book a North American tour shortly.
The wait was finally over, as we were one of the few who managed to catch Exmortus close day one in Studio B at 5:15. Despite how many times we’ve seen these California death thrashers/neo-classical metallers, they never seem to disappoint. No matter how many times you try to categorize them, they continue to prove to blow any style out of the park as this time around; they were promoting 2018’s The Sound of Steel via Prosthetic Records. Despite the lineup changes over the years, frontman/guitarist Jadran “Conan” Gonzalez continued to lead the group as we’ve seen Chase Becker (Warbringer) shred with Gonzalez. For such a late hour, their set kept us wired enough to watch as it was well worth the wait to see them go into the Beethoven cover of “Moonlight Sonata (Act 3).”
This night officially broke our record as this was the first time we covered thirteen acts on day one and managed to stay up until the very end. We left this evening (or morning?) feeling exhausted and eager to wake up in three hours (or less) to do it all over again on the longest day of the metal journey, day two.