Photos by : © '13 E. Straver

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70.000 Tons Of Metal Cruise -  Miami - Turks & Caicos Islands - 28/01 - 01/02/2013

Just like every Islamite should book a ticket to Mekka at least once in his/her life, those who love metal cannot go without at least one ‘once in a lifetime’ pilgrimage: 70000 Tons Of Metal. The goal of this cruise is not to reach a destination, it is the experience of the journey itself. It entails bands and fans cruising the ocean for four days on a luxurious ship, experiencing a level of luxury which is normally the prerogative of affluent retired elderly. Apparently this type of cruise is a welcome breather for the ship’s crew: the crowd may look somewhat wild but are an easy going bunch with an alcohol intake of up to five times the average amount. A profitable situation for the crew, as a 15% tip is a given in the US. The passengers on this cruise spend great amounts of money but get excellent service in return. And with a little planning, they are able to watch 40 bands perform twice and enjoy a party with a like-minded crowd in a most relaxed atmosphere. That’s the metal religion!



At the end of January, the third edition of the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise kicks off with a departure from Miami, Florida. The cabins are sold out when the ship sets off for the tropical Turks & Caicos Islands, approximately 500 kilometers south of Miami, where the passengers have the opportunity to go on a diving or snorkeling excursion or just relax on the beautiful beach. For many bands, this is a dream come true: as the temperatures in Europe drop below zero, it is pleasantly warm in the Sunshine State and we are all in good spirits on South Beach. HELSTAR and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM take the stage in the old train station Grand Central in downtown Miami for the unofficial pre-party. Flotsam and Jetsam have come here with a completely new rhythm section which appears to be playing at a terribly slow pace. In addition, the band has made a poor selection of songs from their repertoire. Never mind, it’s a great party nonetheless. The next day we board the Majesty of the Seas and we are definitely ready to go! This luxurious twelve story ship has plenty to offer. Forty bands will perform on the specially constructed pooldeck stage, in the luxurious Chorus Line hall and the Spectrum Lounge. Moreover, in the labyrinth of the ship there are numerous theme bars, dining rooms and a casino.



Musically, this cruise is also an adventure, especially for the power- and heavy metal fans among us. Unlike the somewhat extreme Barge To Hell cruise in December, the musical emphasis is on traditional metal, much to the advantage of bands such as SABATON, HELLOWEEN (responsible for a considerable  delay in the schedule), GOTTHARD and LIZZY BORDEN. Bands such as KREATOR, NILE and IMMOLATION do not manage to draw the big crowds and the more extreme bands such as INQUISITION and ANAAL NATHRAKH actually have to struggle to draw in spectators, though this could also have something to do with the fact that these bands were only announced days before the ship embarked. The Netherlands are represented by three bands: Delain, Heidevolk and Sinister, a combination which reflects the range of musical styles presented on the ship. Delain are the first to perform. This band, centered around vocalist Charlotte Wessels, appears to have grown both musically and in terms of stage performance: compliments for their solid rhythm section. They have also made good progress in their songwriting, the Aardschok editors are interested to find out what their new semi-live album will sound like (due in April through Napalm Records). Heidevolk are on next. Prior to the show, a couple of band members wonder if their Gelderland Folk Metal will appeal to the crowd? The answer is: Absolutely. What’s more, they manage to draw a much larger crowd than the bands that played before them and no band manages to top the way they animate the crowd. In April, Heidevolk will tour North America together with ENSIFERUM and TYR, something only a handful of Dutch metalbands have accomplished until now.



It is up to SINISTER to wake the crowd early in the morning when they kick off their show on the large pooldeck. Despite a slight delay caused by a power supply problem, front man Aad Kloosterwaard and his team deliver professional work. For 45 minutes, Sinister demonstrates what old school death metal is supposed to sound like in the midst of the Bahamas.



JAM SESSIONS Last year they arose spontaneously, this year they were organized by Annihilator guitarist Jeff Waters: the jam sessions. In the Boleros karaoke hall we enjoyed performances by ‘bands’ formed by a selection of the large pool of musicians present on the ship. Among the highlights were the duets by Doro Pesch with Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and Mille Petrozze (Kreator) and the excellent guitar skills of Courtney Cox (Iron Maidens).


Unfortunately there is not enough space for a detailed account of every band on board. We would however like to make mention of the fact that IN FLAMES and SABATON appeared to be the most appreciated bands on the ship. TIAMAT also managed to impress, even though they played mostly new songs and a big thumbs up to METAL CHURCH whose reunion performance was well received by the crowd. With a bit of luck, you’ll have a chance to see them perform at various European festivals this Summer.



For those who missed this cruise: block 27 – 31 January 2014 in your diaries for the next edition of this extraordinary event! All things considered, this year’s cruise was a major success. See you next year!


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