Picture a nice destination, time to relax, sit down by the pool with a drink, spend time with friends, good food, awesome room service, etc. Does it sound familiar? Ok… it may sound like any typical vacation but, now imagine all that with your biggest passion: EXTREME METAL! Yes… that’s right. An extreme metal cruise festival!!! Five days in the Caribbean with 40 extreme metal bands on board, watching concerts all day long and hanging out with metal heads from all over the globe. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not. This festival is real and it has a name: BARGE TO HELL!
Barge to Hell is the new metal cruise festival created by UMC (Ultimate Music Cruises), the same creators of 70000 tons of metal (take a look at the review I did for the 70000 tons of metal 2012 here: http://www.spirit-of-metal.com/live_report/live_report-nom-70000_tons_of_metal_2012-id-707-l-en.html. Both festivals use the same concepts: a cruise ship, a destination at the Caribbean, 40 (or more) bands on board, over 80 concerts (each bands plays twice), autograph sessions, special events and the most popular fact: there are no VIP areas! The bands hang out with the fans night and day! The difference between them? Barge to Hell is focused on extreme metal while 70K brings all types of metal bands to the bill.
The first Barge to Hell edition happened from December 3rd to December 7th and its destination was Nassau (Bahamas) departing from Miami (Florida-USA). I was lucky enough to be there so, let me tell you a little bit about this trip and my overall opinion and thoughts about this unique experience…
The Expectation: The Barge to Hell experience started way before December. It started in March 2012 when the organizers announced the first bands playing at the festival. From that moment on the “guessing band name game” was on. A lot of drama was involved in this process let me tell you… people were just dying of curiosity and anxiety in between announcements (I’m including myself in this group of course).
When December finally arrived, I flew out to Miami the weekend before the festival. I stayed in a really popular area among the metalheads: South Beach. It was so funny to see the “metal invasion” there. There were metal heads everywhere! There were even some pre-festival parties going on.
Day 1: The first day of the festival had finally arrived! It is always exciting because everybody is getting in the boat, finding their way into their cabins and discovering the many different areas of the ship: the pool deck area, concert venues, casino, bars, restaurants, etc.
The first concerts started when the boat was leaving the port, around 5:30 pm, with Exodus. The entire cruise population was there (bouncing around with the ship’s movement) to see the first concert. There was a lot of energy and excitement from both the band and the public. The night followed with bands like Soilwork, Holy Moses, Enslaved, Novembers Doom, Behemoth, Bonded by Blood, Necronomicon (Germany) and Vital Remains.
Day 2: The second day started early with Artillery, who played at the Pool Deck at 10am! Not many but enthusiastic metal heads were present and supporting the band. After that it was easy to see all the bands playing in the morning and in the afternoon, since only two stages were opened and concerts didn’t overlap until 6:45pm. So, people were able to fully enjoy bands like Morgoth, Zanthropya Ex, Loudblast, Sacred Reich, Necronomicon (Canada), Brujeria and Corrosion of Conformity. When the third stage opened, we really had to start to pick and choose the bands we wanted to see. It was extremely difficult to even find a time to eat because bands like Napalm Death, Mayhem, At the Gates, Havok, Municipal Waste, Possessed, Grave and Headcrusher played until 3am.
It was not only difficult to attend all the concerts you wanted to see but also to fit the autograph sessions you wanted to attend into the agenda. All the bands playing on the festival did autograph sessions that day!
Day 3: This was the resting day for most people. The boat arrived at Nassau (Bahamas). All the passengers had the chance to enjoy the island: beaches, tours, stores and much more. It was really funny to see some of my favorite musicians walking around in their swim suits at the beach! The concerts only started after the boat left the island, around 5pm. This time bands like Nachmystium, Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Kampfar, Abiotic and Sanctuary played throughout the night. This was the first night that some of the bands played their second concert on board. This is a really nice “touch” of the festival organizers: they make sure every band plays twice!
Day 4: The last concert day had arrived! Solstafir started at 10am, followed by other bands like Dark Sermon and Hackeneyed. In the beginning of the afternoon, when Rotting Christ was setting everything up for their concert, the Belly Flop contest was going on at the pool! This is a really funny and popular event that has become a tradition on all UMC cruises!
After the Belly flop contest, the concerts continued with Rotting Christ, Krisiun, Lock Up, Seita, Monstrocity, Sodom and Sepultura, to name a few.
Highlights? Well, I do have to name a few of the concerts that marked me the most during this cruise. My top 10 concerts:
1. Kampfar – Pool Deck;
2. Krisiun – Chorus Line;
3. Hackeneyed – Spectroom Lounge (both times);
4. Tie: Napalm Death – Chorus Line and Rotting Christ - Pool Deck;
5. Behemoth – Chorus Line;
6. Sepultura – Pool Deck;
7. Monstrocity – Pool Deck;
8. Enslaved - Pool Deck;
9. Grave – Pool Deck;
10.Necronomicon (Canada) – Spectroom Lounge;
I also need to mention my Top 5 favorite Barge to Hell moments:
1. Seeing some musicians singing at the Karaoke;
2. Having only extreme metal playing as “ambient” music across the boat, including at the fancy restaurant, having a fancy dinner.
3. Having pizza at 4am while listening to Grave playing next door;
4. Seeing some of the boat’s crew members wearing the Barge to Hell t-shirt;
5. Saying “Hello” to some of my favorite musicians in the cabin hallways.
SUMMARY: Barge to Hell is not only a festival. It is an experience that blew my mind away. I went to the festival saying “This will be my last metal cruise”. I left the boat on December 7th saying: “NO WAY this will be my last metal cruise!” So, if you ask me if it is worth the time and money, I will definitely tell you: YES it is!!!!!!!
Low points? Well, the cruise is far from being cheap and at the first night some of the gigs were not up to schedule due to some issues with the Pool Deck stage. But, besides that I can't think of anything else.The only really bad part of this entire experience is when it is over and you have to go back to the “normal” world…
What are you waiting for? You can still catch 70000 tons of metal 2013!
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