Arriving at the Ft. Lauderdale’s Port Everglades is old hat for Survivors of 70,000 Tons of Metal. The protocol, the check-in, the departing photo, the zig-zagging ramp onto the Independence of the Seas; it is an annual process that metalheads have learned to embrace, given the experiences awaiting on the boat.
This year was no different. The cavalcade of metalheads, the warm embrace of friends, and the greetings in various languages; it was all too familiar for many joining the party, including our team.
It marked the beginning of yet another epic voyage, one that we won’t ever forget.
Meeting up with friends from last year was job one for many, including us. We strode onto the boat, grabbed a beer, and sat down to review the schedule, plot out the shows that we planned to see, and await the call to our rooms. The wait can be tough, and the hours-long process is brutal for the early birds and the impatient. That said, it made the 5 p.m. blast beats from Mors Principium Est, the first band to take the stage, all the more welcome. Their performance was packed, and the set corresponded with the ships departure from the dock, the audience moving to the music as the ship rocked and rolled.
With the Pool Deck stage still under construction, the performances on the first day were limited to the quaint, club vibe of the Star Lounge; the mini-arena atmosphere of Studio B; and the large, lush setup of the Alhambra Theater. Even without the fourth stage, there was more than enough to keep the circle pits spiraling out of control. Dark Funeral opened up a portal to hell with a blasphemous set led by the subterranean scowl of Heljarmadr and the textured riffing of Lord Ahriman. Fleshgod Apocalypse debuted a new track as part of their intense set, and Nick Holmes led his Bloodbath compatriots through an uneven performance that foreshadowed greatness that would come with their Pool Deck set two days later. The death metal denizens raged the Star Lounge during a brutal set from Convulse, with many swaying from the beer, the bobbing of the ship, and the bestial blasts that quickly become background noise throughout the ship. Sodom and The Black Dahlia Murder kept the boat raging into the wee hours of the morning, leaving many to find a resting place in seats, on benches, and in hallways for a few winks before daylight.
In the words of George Costanza, “The sea was angry that day, my friend.” Well, it could have been worse, but the wind did blow and the ship did rock, but that wasn’t enough to dampen spirits during the first full day of music. That said, it did cause the Pool Stage a slight delay in the morning, and another delay later in the afternoon when the rain pelted the vessel. The winds also kept the outdoor stage from being fully adorned with banners, but again, who can complain with a rich lineup and 3,000 metalheads raring to go.
Gloryhammer braved the breezy conditions on the Pool Deck and delivered a fantastical set of spirited sing-alongs. Inside, Warbringer demolished the Royal Theater, and Bodyfarm crushed Studio B with old-school death metal vigor (not to mention tons of smoke that smelled like burnt cotton candy). With mosh pits on the ground and in the hot tubs around the outdoor stage, Coroner, Nile, Paradise Lost, and Ne Obliviscaris melted brains, while inside, Pestilence, Kalmah, and Atrocity found their sea legs and made their presence well-known around the ship.
The cruise claims that everyone onboard is a VIP, and this was undeniable on day two with a host of meet and greet opportunities in four locations on the ship from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. These are the “official” meet and greets, mind you, but there are plenty of other informal meetings that happen constantly around the ship. It wasn’t unusual to catch musicians engaging in boat life, like Nile‘s Karl Sanders grabbing breakfast in The Windjammer, Dark Funeral‘s Chaq Mol snagging a burger at Johnny Rockets, or Napalm Death‘s Barney Greenway shuffling through The Royal Promenade to check in at the press office.
The wind and rain from Friday gave way to calm seas, heat, and a wake-up call to leave the ship and explore
Labadee, Haiti, a gorgeous oasis with white sand beaches, clear ocean water, and bars aplenty, all set against lush, green mountains. Sunburn was the order of the day, and few resorts have seen so much pale skin and black
clothing, but it made for a relaxing afternoon. In fact, one passenger, in his priest robe, took to baptizing unsuspecting revelers in the shallows to a chorus of laughter. While high-speed zip lines whizzed overhead, the beer and fruity drinks flowed from the morning until the late afternoon.
Back on the boat, it was time for a shower, snack, and a stacked lineup of performances. Dark Funeral, Paradise Lost, and The Black Dahlia Murder continued their dominance of the seafaring cult, and God Dethroned, Atrocity, and Napalm Death kept the pits churning. Day drinking gave way to evening stupors, and the party continued on full blast.
Super Sunday on 70,000 Tons of Metal is a day to behold. Not only is their a full roster of music, but the must-see belly flop contest is held on the pool deck, the all-star jam features an amalgam of musicians playing timeless metal favorites, costumes are common-place, and the Super Bowl is featured on televisions around the boat.
Internal Suffering blew minds and eardrums early in the day, before the Pool Deck became the place to be with a searing lineup including Bloodbath, Obituary, Kalmah, Ensiferum, and Max and Iggor Cavalera and their “Return to Roots” performance. The highlights were countless, including a Pikachu moshpit, multiple appearances by Pee Wee Herman (who, by the way, performed “Tequila” during karaoke), and other scantily clad and cleverly costumed attendees.
After a long night, 8 a.m. came way too early when the sunburned and exhausted were roused by an announcement urging all to grab their bags and depart the ship. Sleepy eyes and headaches dotted the masses that waited for rides from the terminal to the airport. The dream-like vacation was over … until next year.
See You Soon
As with years past, the final night of the cruise was capped by a closing announcement by none other than The Skipper himself. The news? Next year’s 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise will take place January 7-11 and will travel from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Cozumel, Mexico, and back. Now, the wait begins.
Stay tuned to SkullsNBones.com for plenty of coverage of this year’s voyage and next year’s plans, and make sure to keep tabs on www.70000tons.com . We are already dreaming of 2020, and we look forward to seeing you all very #soooooooon.