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Articles : 70,000 Tons Of Metal 2018 – Day 3 and 4 Review

By on February 10, 2018

70,000 Tons of Metal
Day 3 and 4, February 3 – 4 2018
Grand Turk and Caicos Islands to Miami

Featuring Battle Beast, Exodus, Evergrey, Korpiklaani, Meshuggah, Sirenia, Sonata Arctica, Freedom Call, Insomnium, Witchery, Gyze, Swallow the Sun, Septicflesh, Dark Tranquillity, Samael, Sabaton, Kreator and Alestorm

Words: Lewis Allan

The morning and afternoon of day three of the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise brought a well-deserved break for bands and Metalheads alike, as those who were still awake and possessed of energy disembarked to spend the day on the beaches of Grand Turk. Many fans got to spend time with the band members in this idyllic setting, including a lucky few who swam with manta rays alongside members of Meshuggah.

Of course, the 70,000 Tons punters weren’t really there to lounge around on the beach, so they were soon back on board the Independence of the Seas for more Metal rampaging.

One of the first cabs of the rank was the Power Metal force of nature, Battle Beast. Having played one of the latest slots the night before (or rather very early in the morning), Battle Beast put on an incredibly powerful and fun show with their fast, punchy tunes. Frontwoman Noora Louhimo was a fierce presence on stage, while guitarist Juuso Soinio came out with the most gloriously cheesy quote of the entire cruise: “We’re going to play a song so heavy, they’ll have to rename it 71,000 Tons of Metal!” While in reality they were far from the heaviest band on the line-up, they were certainly up their with the most enjoyable.

Exodus took to the pool deck to deliver a classic Thrash Metal rampage, much to the pleasure of the old school. That’s not to detract anything from the newer material however, as the selections from the band’s latest release, ‘Blood In, Blood Out,’ were also very well received. In the spirit of the festival, the set also included guest appearances from Sepultura‘s Andreas Kisser, and Vital RemainsBrian Warner, creating a unique experience for the audience.

Back in the Alhambra Theatre, the perhaps underrated Evergrey delivered an absolutely stellar set that was no doubt an eye-opener for any who hadn’t seen them before. Their refined style seems to grow from Power Metal, but move in a heavier direction; and lean towards Prog, without losing the catchy hooks of their tunes. Perhaps the most apt comparison would be with Symphony X, though Evergrey really are in a class of their own, and certainly deserving of more recognition as a relatively unsung dark horse of the line-up.

A tough act to follow, that duty nevertheless fell to crowd-pleasing Folk Metal stalwarts, Korpiklaani. There’s no doubt these Finns are a party band, and their alcohol-fuelled revels went over exceedingly well with a crowd right in the middle of a raucous four-day celebration of Metal. Korpiklaani fill the stage with nine members, with unconventional instruments such as the violin and the accordion supporting more traditional (in Metal terms) guitar, bass and drums. Though there are many winners among the songs of the band’s catalogue, including their celebrations of Tequila, Vodka, and Beer Beer they could be considered something of a one-trick pony, somewhat lacking diversity in their set.

It takes a massive stage to handle a Meshuggah show, so naturally these heavy titans played a show on the pool deck. The intensity of the set was just about enough to split the ship in two, but that being said, there was little aside from the bigger stage to set this show apart from their previous performance in the Alhambra Theatre. While the setlist may change, in many ways a Meshuggah show is a Meshuggah show, with the sheer technical precision required of the band leading to some homogeneity of their performances, as excellent as they are.

From the intensely focused to the joyously extroverted, Sirenia put on a dynamic and uplifting show in the ice rink. Vocalist Emmanuelle Zoltan is a veteran of the band, but only stepped up to frontline duties relatively recently with Sirenia’s latest album, ‘Dim Days of Dolor.’ Zoltan’s performance is practically flawless however, and includes plenty of engagement with the audience as she takes on every song with smiles and warmth. As well as new material, the set contained plenty of songs from the game-changer for Sirenia, ‘Perils of the Deep Blue,’ making for a wonderfully curated selection of songs.

Back on the pool deck, Finland’s premiere Power Metal band Sonata Arctica won the hearts of fans of their emotionally-charged material with an intensely old-school set. There was little in the set from after ‘Unia,’ but that didn’t stop frontman Tony Kakko from presenting the material with such deep pathos it was as if the audience were feeling the emotions for the first time with him. Not to be outdone, guitarist Elias Viljanen and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg were at the top of their game as they shredded through the material. It was all too soon Sonata Arctica closed their set with the traditional call for “Vodka, we need some vodka!”

Freedom Call were able to perform with more refined sound in the Alhambra Theatre after their first show in the Pyramid Lounge, but there was otherwise little to distinguish the two performances – which was disappointing after frontman Chris Bay indicated the sets would be at least somewhat different. Even the banter was somewhat similar, though the callbacks to the previous set were appreciated by those who attended both.

Insomnium‘s pool deck performance was a special one, as they played their most recent release, the 40-minute epic ‘Winter’s Gate’ in full. It was a majestic performance as the band wove their way through the intricate composition that, despite its length, at no point gets tired. The same couldn’t necessarily be said of the crowd; Insomnium performed fairly late, and the crowd didn’t display the same energy as at their earlier set. Sadly this was also reflected in the band’s performance, which while still undeniably strong, fell short of the first set in the Alhambra Theatre.

Like Freedom Call, Witchery benefited from much improved sound for their second set, though this was far more pronounced for Witchery when they played their ice rink set. Fans were able to much more deeply appreciate the layers of complexity in the band’s very heavy sound, and this was reflected in the great response. Frontman Angus Norder kept the crowd riled up with his constant moving about the stage and calling for action, drawing an impressive mosh and thankfully getting the chance to really show what Witchery can do.

Despite having an incredibly late (or again, early) slot, the Japanese masters of ferociously fast Death Metal, Gyze, absolutely packed out the Pyramid Lounge. Due to the mostly flat layout, it was almost impossible to catch a glimpse of the band, but there was no struggle hearing them. Comparable to a perhaps slightly more melodic Children of Bodom, Gyze were one of the most surprising bands of the line-up, but word of mouth amongst the nautical community of Metalheads ensured they got the attention they deserved.

Symphonic Black Metallers Septicflesh proved themselves on their day four performance in the Alhambra Theatre. The symphonic elements of their music were far more distinct this time around, along with the depth and complexity of the heavy side of the arrangements. This was particularly apparent with the crowd favourite Anubis. The response from the crowd certainly proved this set a success, and a happy relief to those disappointed with the previous ice rink set.

Dark Tranquillity followed in the Alhambra Theatre with a set incorporating more old school material, much to the pleasure of long-time fans. The pool deck set was hard to beat, but frontman Mikael Stanne kept up the energy just as hard, and had so much fun he could barely keep a straight face during even the darkest and most serious of songs – largely due to the many weird and wonderful costumes many cruise survivors traditionally wear on day four. With a set including classics like Lethe and fan favourites like The Mundane and the Magic and The Final Resistance, Dark Tranquillity fans would have been some of the happiest on the cruise.

Samael likewise went old school with their Ice Rink set, though they still played a few songs from the latest album ‘Hegemony’ which went down equally well. Again the distinctive Industrial beats of the band got the crowd moving and dancing, an unusual feat in Metal circles. The dire Gothic feel was perhaps best captured in the songs from Samael’s pivotal ‘Passage,’ always a welcome addition to any set.

Back in the Alhambra Theatre, the last thing Sabaton were going to do was repeat themselves. Playing an entirely different set, they received just as strong a response from the absolutely packed out theatre, and arguably they were the most-loved band on the entire cruise. Joachim Broden brought more banter to the stage this time, with the playful atmosphere resulting in a humorous brawl between band members that included Broden’s mic stand being stolen while he was tackled to the ground, and guitarist Tommy Johansson being subject to a nipple cripple in return. Broden also sang two songs in Swedish due to popular audience demand, though he insisted, “This isn’t a democracy. You couldn’t handle democracy, you wouldn’t know what to do with it!”

The cruise’s largest stage, the pool deck, was closed by none other than the mighty Kreator. Playing a similar set to their previous one but on a larger scale, the band nevertheless impressed when they kept playing even when the sound completely dropped out for a moment, ensuring no time was wasted when the PA kicked back in. It was also during Kreator’s set that the one and only Skipper, Andy Pilar, creator of 70,000 Tons of Metal, gave his closing speech. In an emotional moment, he revealed that a record 75 nations were represented at this year’s 70,000 Tons of Metal, including some who are at war with each other – but 3,000 Metalheads gathered in peace and celebration truly create a “United Nations of Metal.”

It wasn’t the end of the festivities however, as Alestorm finally closed the entire event in the Alhambra Theatre. Alestorm pulled out all the stops, sending their giant rubber duckie on its final voyage into the crowd – “This is why we can’t have nice things!” – having half the pit sit down on the floor and imitate rowing a large vessel for Nancy the Tavern Wench, and even performing Drink “for dogs,” that is with Chris Bowes barking rather than singing the lyrics. It was a glorious, and moreover uproariously funny way to finish the cruise, with the entire event wrapping up with crowd favourite Fucked with an Anchor.

It was a sombre moment the next morning when the assembled Metalheads had to disembark back in Miami and return to the real world, but also with a sense of intense satisfaction, excellent memories made (and more lost, as Bowes put it), and many new friendships across the globe. As the 70,000 Tons of Metal tradition goes, no doubt we will start to hear about next year’s event, January 31 – February 4, sailing to Haiti… SOON.


Head to 70000tons.com to secure your tickets for the 2019 edition of 70,000 Tons Of Metal, and find out more about the boat, bands and crew.

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