Stepping onto the 70,000 Tons of Metal ship and taking my first look around, I couldn’t help but think that if this ship goes down, we’d sink straight to the bottom from all the heavy metal on board. The sun was a welcome companion (the sun is a myth in England) as well as the unlimited pizza. My Italian side was ecstatic: sun, pizza and metal – fuck yeah!
Day 1: Brit on board!
As soon as the first band, Carach Angren– horror inspired funky-folklore metallers from the Netherlands – seized the stage, I was raring to go. Their music and aesthetic is no fairy tale: ghostly apparitions on stage accompany their haunting sound. Tracks from their 2015 album, This is no Fairytale proved to be a something of a nightmare I didn’t want to wake up from.
DragonForce were up next to bat at the Alhambra Theater. Talk about one-hit wonder, literally – they had to drop their set after one song because of technical difficulties. It was all cool though – they played again on the last day… although their set was cancelled because of the storm, leading them to get re-arranged again. Herman’s custom-made guitar to play his solo for one minute under water went bust! So sorry dude. It didn’t stop them from busting up the stage with pure awesomeness, though.
Thankfully, I managed to stay up to see the Faroese pioneers Týr at 2:15am. Never did I think I’d stay up that late to see a band, but they were definitely worth it. I was up-front and centre, banging my head to Faroese ballads infused with metal. Classics like ‘Hold the Heathen Hammer High’, paved the way for stalwart moshers and I stood on the edge trying not to get pummelled. Short people problems.
Day 2: Still alive
Jet lag had hit me full force: the 5 hour time reverse for the little English girl was proving difficult. I was warned, “you won’t sleep!” but alas, I laughed in their faces and carried on. Next thing I know I’m talking to Gunnar from Týr about the faces you pull when you pee and I was getting my ears assaulted by tone-deaf drunks at the karaoke bar. A glance at the window revealed that the next day had rolled around and that bands were starting in a couple of hours. All I can say is, hallelujah for room service (I ordered so many cookies. Because as Hans would say during Týr’s sound-check, cookies are GOOD).
My one desire, my only wish was to see Bloodbath! After seeing them in 2010, I’ve literally waited years to see them again. I was not disappointed. The brutal, melodic, searing concoction that is Bloodbath left me a fathomless bangover. The all-stars (including members from Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost) have an impressive 6 year gap (want to know the reason for the gap? check out of interview with Martin “Axe” Axenrot and Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson) between The Fathomless Mastery (2008) to Grand Morbid Funeral (2014). Paradise Lost vocalist Nick Holmes had big shoes to fill taking over front-man from Mikael Åkerfeldt. Nick’s gravelling vocals and imposing presence definitely grabbed my attention. Incessant carnage wrought out by Bloodbath shows they have resurrected as the Gods of death metal.
Speaking of incessant, Rotting Christ, unholy masters from Greece tore up the stage, featuring new material from their thirteenth album Rituals, released February 12th, which is their darkest sounding yet.
‘Elthe Kyrie’, a new track from the album that was released a couple of months ago, has very much the same unremitting pounding accents as their 2013 album Katá ton Daímona Eaf̱toú. ‘Ze Nigmar’, another track from their new album, dotted with unusual accents, magnetic chanting and flattened 6ths creates a soundworld of a bygone era, mixed with a heady dose of purest metal. See my interview with Sakis for more details on Rituals and the sound of Rotting Christ.
Day 3: Barely Alive
Jamaica! The land where every day is Bob Marley’s birthday, only this time, it actually was his birthday. The metal invasion descended onto Falmouth and swept away all the land’s rum and pillaged Margaritaville. It was difficult to tell if the metal sailors were high from Katatonia’s performance or from their ‘exploits’ in Jamaica. Smooth and hypnotic, Katatonia were as enrapturing as I expected.
This was the day where I got into bed with Children of Bodom’s Henkka and spoke about marsupials, as well as their 2015 album I Worship Chaos, of course – I’ve always been conventional, y’see. Their performance was stellar, riddled with classics that riled up the crowd. I was barely alive by this point, averaging on 30 minutes’ sleep from the day before. However, my spirit was strong. I pushed past the chafing of my leather pants and continued to represent Metal Nation Radio like a boss.
Day 4: Shit, I’m on a boat!
It’s easy to forget you’re on a boat, but we were definitely kicked into reality when the boat was swaying during Turisas’ performance. Though, it was hard to tell if it was the tumultuous waves of the sea or just the uncontrollable swooning over Mathias ‘Warlord’ Nygård. One word: perfection. The set, the sound, the charisma – my definite highlight of the boat. So nice, I saw them twice.
75mph winds hit, sets were cancelled and the pool deck was closed. This led to the ‘Fuck the Storm’ band timetable, with Insomnium changed to a 4am slot. Sad to say, I didn’t make it. 2 songs in and I was down for the count. I waved my white flag (I guess in this case, black studded flag) and returned to my quarters to be rocked to sleep by the turbulence of the storm.
Day 5: Hello reality.
This was the morning I took my leave. With a heavy heart, I stepped off the boat and drowned my sorrows in the confectionary aisle in Walmart. It was an honour and a privilege to meet the bands, crew and fans that made my first 70,000 tons of metal – as well as my first time out of Europe – a trip to remember. The obsession with my English accent was very amusing, I’ve lost count of how many times I was asked to say “Harry Potter” and “wingardium leviosa”. I’ll start stuffing my piggy-bank with loose change in hopes of seeing you all again next year.
Stay tuned for my interviews with members from: Bloodbath, Children of Bodom, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Insomnium, Rhapsody of Fire and Rotting Christ.
Photos by NatX