This is the second installment of Barkasi's 70,000 Tons of Metal review. To read the first, click here. Wear sunscreen, by the way. - David E. Gehlke/editor
This day was set up just like day one, with music starting in the early evening. Reason being, today was the day to gallivant around the Cayman Islands, namely, the capital city of George Town. Others and myself had an excursion planned out that would take us to a few different local spots. Firstly, it took us to a small town/landmark aptly named “Hell.” Yes, you read that correctly. The landmark is a large black limestone formation. The name came from a local official who deemed the formation being “what hell must look like.” Interesting, for sure, and a cool work of nature to see. Of course, it’s merchandised like mad, with a few gift shops, and a real post office. Yes, you can send a postcard from Hell. I passed on doing so, but regret it due to the cheesy irony in hindsight. Another time, perhaps.
The second stop was a rum cake factory named Tortuga, where one can munch on free rum cake samples, and of course, buy some of your own. A very busy place, as it’s quite well known and is a big destination for visitors. It was located right on the coast of the island, as well, so the view of the ocean from the back of the shop was fantastic.
Lastly, and my favorite part by far, was visiting the Cayman Turtle Farm. A research and conservatory for sea turtles, visitors get to see – and hold – sea turtles of many sizes. Well, except the full grown ones. Nobody is lifting those, except my buddy Onorato, who would probably want to at least try. Yes, that is a challenge.
The best part was getting to hold a little baby sea turtle. Absolutely adorable creatures. I wanted to take him/her home. But alas, there’s the little problem with laws and whatnot. But still, an absolutely fantastic time. Hope you all enjoyed that brief description of my island adventures, but we know you’re all here for the metal – and baby turtles, admit it. So here we go with the third day of rockin’ metal madness. Once getting back on board of the ship, it was time to eat and relax for a few hours before the mighty Overkill kicked things off on the pool deck.
Unfortunately, their set started about 20-30 minutes late – these guys can’t catch a break on this cruise; so only a couple of songs were caught before moving onto the next band. Needless to say, however, Overkill was their usual consistent selves. I mean, it’s an Overkill show – nothing to dislike here.
It was then time to catch some Stratovarius. Yeah, I know fellow thrashers – leaving an Overkill show for Strato is probably viewed as an atrocity to some. Well, blah to you, because Stratovarius is one of the best progressive metal bands around. And what a good time they were! They really haven’t missed a beat since Timo Tolkki left, and actually, they’ve made some of their better material since his exodus. The band seems to be happy and all on good terms, which is something long time fans of Stratovarius have been grateful to see in the last few years. Playing some classic cuts and some new tracks off of their latest Elysium, it was a varied set, both with the eras of the songs played, and the mixture of faster and slower tunes. They have a ton of material to pick from, and as long as they avoid that awful self-titled debacle, everything will be just fine. Good show, and hope to see them again in the near future.
Considering the lateness of the pool deck stage, one of the most difficult clashes became a little bit easier to deal with. Crowbar and Annihilator were overlapping, with Crowbar playing the small club stage and Annihilator playing on the pool deck. The original plan was to skip Crowbar’s set and watch Annihilator – as they’re by far the bigger rarity. However, Annihilator was pushed back by about a half hour, leaving plenty of time to catch about half of Crowbar’s set.
The NOLA legends of sludgy goodness put on a very heavy – though not as heavy as before, as these guys have dropped some serious pounds – show that only they could put on. Fittingly, they were selling shirts that had the slogan, “tune low, play slow” on the back. Such a perfect description, and to this writer, they’re one of the only bands to really pull off that extremely heavy, slow, murky sound and make it absolutely infectious. Simply put, there’s no band quite like Crowbar, and I’m surprised they didn’t bring the boat down with their crushing sound. Kirk Windstein and crew really brought it, and it was regrettable not being able to catch a full set of them on this trip. What was seen and heard was, just, so damn heavy! Hope to see them again in the near future.
Time to haul ass over to Annihilator, and making it just in time was a nice feeling. The crazy Canadians played a very similar set to their first, but it wasn’t a big deal. One cannot complain much about an Annihilator set. To you Europeans, you’re so lucky to be able to see this band live on a regular basis. Annihilator owned the stage yet again, to no surprise to everybody on the very packed pool deck. It was nice seeing the band in a theater setting, and now the open-air feel of the pool deck. Two great shows with two unique atmospheres. My only gripe – no “Kraft Dinner.” Hopefully another time.
A long break ensued after Annihilator – I can’t get over that description – which involved some more rest time, as well as lots more food. Seriously, that is one of the best things about this trip – the unbroken chain of tasty buffet-style food. Luckily for me, Nightwish’s 1-1/2 hour set times gave me plenty of time to relax. Much appreciated! Next up were recently reunited death metallers Massacre. No frills with this band – just straight brutal death metal done well. They put on a quite good show – nothing special, but they got the job done. Definitely one of the outright loudest bands of the fest, too. Heavy, thumping death metal is what Massacre brings. While it’s nothing revolutionary, it doesn’t have to be. A good time!
Children of Bodom were up next. Once one of the best bands around, they’ve certainly lost a step or two, but still are entertaining enough to catch. They played a good set, but man do I miss the energy of the first few tours they did. They were a band on a mission before, and now that they’ve gained a large amount of notoriety, they seem to be kind of coasting. I still enjoyed them, but there was certainly something off as well. Still willing to catch them again sometime, but they seem to need an infusion of motivation to really tear it up again. Fun, but not as fun as they could have been.
Round two of doom was next – My Dying Bride on the pool deck. As mentioned during my commentary on the band’s first set, the plan was to play two distinctive sets – the first being a more doom oriented display, while this second show was to showcase more of their faster – as fast as MDB can get, at least – death metal oriented songs. It’s great when bands change it up a bit, and it was fun to see some of the crunchier and a little more pace-laden stuff. To no surprise, another fantastic set, and the cool evening sky set a brilliant mood. Lots of atmosphere and another memorable set from My Dying Bride. Please, tour the US. Pretty please?
Another split set of Kamelot was up next, and it was a good one. Nothing much different than their first set, other than just more reminders of just why Fabio Lione should be the permanent vocalist for this band. He fits like a glove, and nobody thought that any singer but Roy Kahn could front this band. But Lione can, and do so to such a high degree that it makes one not miss Kahn all that much. His renditions of “Center of the Universe” and “Forever” from this set were especially spellbinding. The rest of the band was phenomenal, too, by the way! Love these guys.
Moonsorrow followed, and they stand as one of the folk-inspired metal bands that really grasp my attention. There are a TON of great folk metal bands out there. A friend and cruise roommate said that they could do a whole cruise of awesome folk metal bands, and that is so true. Unfortunately, the market has become a bit over saturated and it’s getting a little bothersome, with some really bad bands popping up with more frequency. Moonsorrow, however, are hardened veterans of this scene, and are one of the most infectious musically. Covered in blood and war paint, Moonsorrow definitely go all out appearance-wise, and wow was their set heavy. The band definitely picked out some of the more aggressive songs from their catalogue here, as they roared from started to finish with an in your face stage show that highly impressed every person watching.
Samael’s last set was the next one on the list, with it being focused on songs from Passage, along with some newer songs sprinkled in for good measure. Just as powerful as their first set, Samael’s industrialized sound went very well with the Passage era songs that they played – a concern for some. Always nice to see something different, and that something pulled off to a tee. A term used by myself previously, but intense is by far the best word to describe this band. They really have a lot of passion – a refreshing thing to see.
Lastly, starting at after 4am was German thrashers Tankard. While 99% of their songs are dedicated to beer and the consumption of said beverage, you’d think that their appeal would be minimal for somebody like myself, a strict non-drinker. But, quite simply, Tankard is about fun. While way too many bands take themselves far too seriously, bands like Tankard keep things loose and silly. And they make some very poignant thrash metal, too! Lead vocalist Gerre (real name: Andreas Geremia) – brought the silliness straight away, running around like mad while wearing a sea captain’s jacket. I’ll say this – that man is a ball of energy. He never once sits still, running around the stage akin to Bruce Dickenson – but totally fueled by drunkenness. By far some of the most fun I had during any of the many sets seen on this cruise. I’ll take a fun band like Tankard any day of the week.
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