All That I BleedAlthough I have been back from my last vacation for more than 2 weeks now, it is still hard to “come back to reality”.
I could try to create some suspense or curiosity about my destination, but I guess the main title of this review will spoil any intentions I could possibly have of doing that. So, instead, I will cut to the chase and answer the question that people have been asking me since I have returned back home: “So… How was it?”
I can’t really describe everything in a few words. I need to tell a tale here! After all, what could be more epic than going to a cruiseship, in the Caribbean, with 42 metal bands playing onboard, for 4 days? So, let me get started…
2012 was the second 70000 tons of metal edition. It happened from January 23rd until January 27th, from Miami to the Cayman Island. Who were the bands playing? Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom, Nightwish, Therion, Suffocation, Grave Digger, Virgin Steel, Samael, Eluveitie, Alestorm, Moonsorrow, Over Kill, Venom… just to name a few.
I have to say that for me (and probably for many other people), the cruise experience didn’t start when I first arrived to the ship. It started months before the festival when I often entered the event’s website to check the bands that were being announced. It continued on the flight to Miami and it continued at the airport, at the hotel, at the van going to the port … Why? Because at all these places I started to spot the people (including musicians) that were going to be on that ship with me… I could feel the energy building up in the air.
On Monday 23rd, when I got to the boat I started exploring the “territory”: 12 decks, 3 concert stages, many shops, restaurants, spa, gym, climbing wall, basketball court and the most popular places: the bars! Yes… they were already crowded before the boat even left the port!
Let me explain something before you start wondering about the festival stages: There were 3 stages on the boat: Spectrum Lounge, Chorus Line Amphitheater and Pool Deck; the smallest being the Spectrum Lounge and the largest being the Pool Deck. Each venue offered different types of experiences and different types of atmospheres. The coolest one in my opinion was the Pool Deck Stage, just because you can watch the concerts there from the pool or from the hot tubs.
The first concert was at 6pm with Alestorm. The entire festival population must have been there because it was incredibly crowded. The concert was held in the Spectrum Lounge. The night continued with 13 other concerts, including Grave Digger, Coroner, Tristania, Moonsorrow, Samael, Candlemass, Nightwish, Eluveitie and Edguy.
My favorite moment of the day: Moonsorrow. The musicians gave the crowd a concert filled with lots of energy and enthusiasm. The worst moment of the day: waiting for the main stage on the Pool Deck to be ready. The organizers had a hard time putting it together due to some complications, so some concerts started late.
The second day started early with Whiplash at 10 am on the Pool Deck. It was so great and at the same time so weird to have breakfast in a nice restaurant, sitting down around metalheads. The day was awesome: God Dethroned, Orphaned Land, Suffocation, Kamelot, Tankard, In Extremo, Stratovarius, Children of Bodom, Venom… The marathon was over at 04:15am, when Crowbar ended the final concert of the day. In total 27 bands played on the second day.
My favorite part of the day: Suffocation at the Chorus Line! Really… what a concert… the guys simply gave the best concert of the cruise. Orphaned Land also did a great job at the Pool Deck! My least favorite part of the day: the loooong line to get to the Merch Store. Some people were there for more than 3 hours. Maybe this is something to be improved for the festival’s next edition.
Wednesday was a different day dedicated to the Cayman Island. Yes! We had finally arrived at our destination. Many people decided to enjoy it by going to some tours that were offered onboard, like visiting the village called Hell, snorkeling, visiting a turtle farm or doing city center tour. Some people just stayed onboard and hanged out around the pool.
At night time the boat starting to sail back to Miami and the concerts re-started. Another round of amazing bands like Overkill, Annihilator, Cannibal Corpse, Pestilence, My Dying Bride, Kataklysm, Massacre, Exciter and Vicious Rumors played that night, totaling 17 concerts.
Best part of the day: seeing some musicians hang around at the Cayman Island and inside the boat. Least favorite part of the day: I really can’t think of any! Awesome day!
The last day’s concert started the same way as the ones on Tuesday: early! First concert starting at 10am and last concert finishing at 3am. Many great concerts during that last festival’s day: Virgin Steel, Megora, Hammerfall, Amorphis, Atheist, Therion, Sapiency, Diamond Plate, Riot, Dark Funeral, Pretty Maids, Channel Zero.
The total concerts on the last day were 26. But I can tell you that a lot of people showed up to see something else besides concerts that day: The Belly Flop contest. Lots of fun!!! Several guys competing, lots of people cheering, a really fun narrator… the pool deck was full!!
Best moments of the day: the belly flop contest, Samael and Amorphis. These two bands did awesome concerts… the bands were really trying hard to give the crowd the best concert they could. The least favorite moment: I have to say this, even though I hate naming band for bad concerts… Channel Zero. The lead singer seemed… let’s say… not in his “normal” state, which is not professional and not fair to the crowd. I may be wrong, but I can tell you that the concert was not at all on the same level as the other bands playing that night.
When Friday came there was a little bit of sadness in the air. Everybody leaving the boat, little by little all the decks were getting empty, even the bars! But there was something that you could see on people’s faces: the satisfaction they felt about their vacation and the will to come back next year.
To summarize: There is a reason why people are talking so much about 70000 tons of metal. This festival is truly amazing and unique. Not only because it is on a ship, during a cruise, but because of the special moments that people can experience there: from living and breathing metal 100% of the time (for 4 days) to bumping into favorite musicians at the hallways, elevators, concerts and restaurants. Where else could you sit down for a fancy dinner with brutal death metal playing on the background?
My congratulations to the creators and organizers of this festival! I can sincerely say: NICE JOB! The trip was worth every penny…
PS: Be aware… Barge to Hell is coming!