Abysmal Dawn, Amberian Dawn and more at 70.000 Tons of Metal (2023)
70.000 Tons of Metal (Miami, FL, USA)
Abysmal Dawn, Amberian Dawn, Amorphis, Atrocity, Batushka, Belphegor, Bodyfarm, Cancer, Cryptosis, Cynic, Dark Tranquility, Dear Mother, Deathless Legacy, Destruction, Dragon Force, Edge Of Paradise, Eleine, Elvenking, Empress, Eshtadur, Evergrey, Fallujah, Feuerschwanz, Fractal Universe, Freedom Call, God Dethroned, Heian, Hideous Divinity, Hypocrisy, Insomnium, Internal Bleeding, Iron Savior, Isole, Jungle Rot, Kamelot, Keep Of Kalessin, Korpiklaani, Kreator, Manegarn, Melechesh, Nightmare, Nightwish, Nothgard, Novembre, Nuclear, Obscura, Oceans Of Slumber, Osyron, Rotting Christ, Sight Of Emptiness, Sirenia, Skiltron, The Crown, Uli Jon Roth, Vicious Rumors, Visons Of Atlantis, Vreid, Warbringer, Wolfchant, Wormed
January 13, 2023
Imagine 3000 Metal heads and 60 Metal bands are put together on a luxury cruise liner for four days travelling across the Caribbean Seas to a dream destination. That happens year after year (with a two-year Corona break) in January since 2011. Everyone has a backstage pass as there is no restricted area on the ship, so you never know who you bump into in one of the many restaurants, the bars, the casino, the elevator, or during the shows.
It has been the 11th edition of 70000tons Of Metal and typically many of the 3000 guests from all over the world return. The journey starts either from Port Miami, Florida or from Port Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale nearby. This year's trip started in Miami as we sailed on Royal Caribbeans Freedom Of The Seas to Bimini Island, Bahamas and back to Port Miami. The festival itself consists of three parts: the journey to the destiny island where all 60 bands play their first set, then one day on the island where cruisers can go to shore excursions, some of them guided by the bands, or simply enjoy the sun or the Sea. The third part is the journey back where all bands play their second set. Beside the total of 120 shows plus an all-star jam, there are plenty of activities as every band offers a meet & greet, artist clinics, the merchandise, a Metal karaoke every night (and you never know who turns up), or the infamous Belly Flop Contest. In addition, the cruiser can also choose between 22 restaurants, a climbing wall, a mini golf course, casino, fitness and spa, or just enjoy a walk on the promenade deck with all the shopping facilities, pubs, and bars.
Before the cruise starts, cruisers organize a few pre-parties in the heart of Miami South Beach. Those pre-parties became an integral part of 70000tons Of Metal over the years and the main organizer Doro Morrighan should be mentioned here as she puts an enormous effort into that. It all starts two to three days before departure, this year with the roof-top party at the famous South Beach hotel Clevelander. Highlight is the Heavy Metal Beach Party with the group picture of the Heavy Metal cruisers and the Live Metal karaoke the night before the cruise. You never know who is turning up there.
Day 1 starts with boarding, checking out the restaurants, meeting friends from all over the world, and, once the ship departs, the shows start. On Day 1, there are three stages: the Royal Theater, Studio B, and the Star Lounge. The fourth stage is the Pool Deck Stage where shows start from Day 2 onwards. The Royal Theater is the biggest venue on Day 1 and hosted some of the bigger acts like KAMELOT, INSOMNIUM, EVERGREY, and one of the two headliners KREATOR. While KAMELOT included with Melissa Bonny (AD INFINITUM) and Clementine Delauney (VISONS OF ATLANTIS) two guest vocalists, KREATOR offered an entire set of the classical songs from their first five albums. In terms of guest contributions, 70000tons Of Metal offers unique opportunities as all bands stay on board. During this year's edition, Melissa Bonny was guest vocalist for KAMELOT and FEUERSCHWANZ, ATROCITY included Zoe Marie Federoff (CATALYST CRIME, CRADLE OF FILTH), and Floor Jansen (NIGHTWISH) had a guest appearance with EVERGREY. For those who love smaller venues, Studio B and the Star Lounge hosted some exciting bands like German Folk Metal act FEUERSCHWANZ, Norwegian's symphonic Metal icons SIRENIA, or Philadelphia's symphonic Metal newcomers EMPRESS. In particular the latter one put in a very energetic performance at the Star Lounge.
Day 2 is typically a very busy day since beside all the shows, the merchandise starts and all meet and greets take place. Many of the bands bring dedicated 70000tons Of Metal merch with them and in addition, there is the official 70000tons Of Metal merch sale. All bands do a meet and greet for at least one hour at several places of the ship, which is very popular among the cruisers. On Day 2, the biggest stage on the ship, the Pool Deck Stage opens for shows which is integrated into the various pools and hot tubs on the upper deck. German Power Metal act FREEDOM CALL opened the Pool Deck Stage at 10 am while US Death Metal veterans JUNGLE ROT played the final gig of Day 2 until the next morning 6 am. Highlights of the bands playing the Pool Deck Stage on Day 2 were DESTRUCTION, DRAGONFORCE, AMORPHIS, and HYPOCRISY. The Royal Theater hosted also a number of bigger acts, among them German Death Metal icons ATROCITY, Swedish melodic Death Metal masters DARK TRANQUILITY, Folk Metal band KORPIKLAANI, and of course, the second headliner NIGHTWISH. The NIGHTWISH show was clearly the highlight of Day 2 in a fully packed Royal Theater. My highlights from the smaller venues were Swedish melodic Metal band ELEINE and Italy's modern Metal act DEATHLESS LEGACY, who conquered the Star Lounge with an excellent theatrical and dynamic show. My activities on Day 2 included 14 shows and 8 meet and greets.
Day 3 is the day on the island. This year, 70000tons Of Metal sailed to Bimini, Bahamas and sailors had around eight hours to relax, or take part in one of the many shore excursions. Some of the excursions were hosted by artists. Who would not like to go on a snorkeling adventure with KREATOR? I decided to go on a catamaran tour with members of KAMELOT and EVERGREY, which was great fun for everybody. Back on board, the ship starts sailing during the late afternoon and the shows were back on starting at 5 pm. The second shows of the bands typically take place at a different venue. Pool Deck Stage highlights were Austrian's Death Metal act BELPHEGOR, EVERGREY, FEUERSCHWANZ, and KREATOR who played a complete different set. Most of the bands mix up the sets, and occasionally there are special release sets. While AMORPHIS, DRAGONFORCE, and SIRENIA were among the highlights of the Royal Theater, I spent a lot of time at both smaller venues to check out Long Island's brutal Death Metal legends INTERNAL BLEEDING and the second sets of ELEINE, EMPRESS, and DEATHLESS LEGACY. I think, especially EMPRESS and DEATHLESS LEGACY won over a lot of new fans during the cruise. The final act on the Pool Deck Stage was eventually the Thrashers of WARBRINGER when the sun was rising over the Caribbean Sea.
Day 4 is typically a very special day on board as on Day 4, the unofficial fancy dress party takes place. Other events are the Belly Flop Contest and the All Star Jam where the latter one is a must-see for many cruisers. The All Star Jam was hosted by Clementine Delauney and Alex Krull (ATROCITY) and 10 Heavy Metal classics were performed by a number of selected Metal artists. On Day 4, the Pool Deck Stage was in the center of attention with shows, among others, from BATUSHKA, KORPIKLAANI, DARK TRANQUILITY, and the headliner show of NIGHTWISH, which was followed by the speech of the skipper Andy Piller. NIGHTWISH was again the highlight with a lot of musicians from other bands being in the crowd watching the show. The other venues had also a lot to offer with the shows of DESTRUCTION and HYPOCRISY at the Royal Theater, ATROCITY, JUNGLE ROT, and VREID at Studio B, and Death Metal acts THE CROWN and BODYFARM at the Star Lounge. After the final show, there is still the Metal karaoke going on until the departure on Day 5.
With the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding 70000tons Of Metal and the organization and lack of announcements did not help. Eventually, organizer Andy Piller managed to keep this amazing festival alive. There was an excellent line-up with a lot of new bands, top class established bands, and two great headliners. Despite not being sold out, there were cruisers of 71 countries from all over the world and that shows what 70000tons Of Metal means to the Metal community. I am sure most people will come back next year in January to give Miami Beach and the Caribbean Sea something special.
Live Report by Thomas Kumke