70000tons of METAL



January 24 – 28, 2011
Miami FL – Cozumel MEXICO – Miami FL

Daily updates from Metal-Rules.com‘s own JP



Dusk Machine: 9:30am came way too soon but we were ready for Round Two.  The new supergroup formed by Canadian drummer Randy Black and led by ex-Overkill / ex-Annihilator dude, Joe Comeau welcomed the truly hard-core early-risers to the dark and cool main stage. It seemed pretty empty after the big shows from last night but the band’s world premier gig was anything but sedate as they woke up the rest of the boat!!

The band will be compensated for a weaker time-slot by being the final band of the entire show on Thursday.  I’m certainly going to see them again as it will be one hell of a  party!

Agent Steel:  A few of the legions gathered in the hot morning sun at 11:00 am, beers in hand naturally, might have been disappointed as Jon Cyriis could not make the trip with the band.  However, the band had recruited Steel Prophet singer, Rick Mythiasin he was absolutely killer, easily hitting all the high notes from a set of classics from the first two albums. The people sitting in the pool drinking beer and watching the show didn’t  seem to mind! We all got a special treat as the band brought James Rivera of Helstar on stage for a guest vocal slot!  The boat could sink now and I’d be happy!

Trouble:  The legions of doom were represented by the mighty Trouble from Chicago. The last time I saw them was in Toronto, in 1989 in a bar so it was a real thrill to see them again. Today they were so heavy the almost sank the boat.  They previewed a pair of new songs from the new album (due in June) and if the song ‘Hunter of Doom’ is any indication, it will be an awesome record. We got to chat with Bruce and Rick and they were gentlemen.

Unfortunately there were a few more logistical issues with the Meet and Greets and the merchandise sales and the lineups were very, very long stretching at times across two floors. No one really seemed to mind as beer flowed easing the mild annoyance of having to wait in a line for a shirt. Metalheads are used to waiting in line!  At least you could hear the strains of Tyr playing ‘Wild Rover’ in the background or the Agent Steel album over the in-boat intercom system.

Sabaton: I love Sabaton but I admit I was surprised how popular they were and how packed the main room was!  The band was tight and firing on all cylinders with all guns blazing. They blazed through a number of hits finishing with the one-two knock-out punch of ‘Primo Victoria’ and then ‘Metal Machine’ which the singer Joakim Broden introducing the last cut as a love song about his penis!  A strong contender for gig of the day.

Circle II Circle: It was so great to see CIIC for the first time.  They opened with ‘Consequence of Power’, the title track of their most recent album. The crowd was small but very appreciative of smooth, yet powerful delivery.  It wouldn’t be a CIIC gig if they didn’t bust out some Zak-era Savatage and the fans went wild when they heard the opening strains of the piano intro to ‘Edge Of Thorns’.  An under-rated band on the cruise and it was a hidden gem of a gig.

Rage: Another first time experience with these Germans. An hour long set with some of their bigger hits “Down”, “Soundchaser” and “Empty Hollow”. At the end of their set, they announced that the next song would be their last, and the fans already starting singing the chorus to “Higher Than The Sky” in anticipation. The song is a great sing-a-long track and perfect to end a set with the whole audience participating. One overheard fan comment as we were leaving: “That Smolski can shred, I’m never touching my guitar again”.

Forbidden: It was back outside into the bright sunlight by the pool for another first for me!  The bands and fans were well lubricated by this time and some of the ladies decided to shed some inhibitions as well as other things much to the delight of the crowd. The gig was actually windy as hell but the band also played with gale-force strength showcasing new guy Steve Smyth (ex-Nevermore, ex-Testament) and at least four new tunes from the new album Omega Wave as well as several classics from back in the day. They finished the show with an extended version of ‘Chalice Of Blood’.

We were starting to run on empty and needed to refuel with beer and real food for the long night ahead.  We popped into the Voi-Vod gig which was raging, handled some press stuff with some interviews with Forbidden, Death Angel and Trouble.  Watch for those in the upcoming days. I can’t say enough good things about the media staff and organizers. Interviews ran on time and everyone was totally accommodating. We wolfed down some decent grub while enjoying the sundown set of Obituary by the pool.  Slowly we eat…I think not!  No time to digest then it was off to Iced Earth in the main room.

Iced Earth: Fortunately no band had to play opposite Iced Earth as they essentially held court in the main room at the back of the boat. With only an hour to work with Barlow kept the chit-chat to a minimum as they band blazed through a strong set leaning quite heavily on Dark Saga. Maybe a little short on showmanship, the band made up for it in killer songs and Barlow’s voice was in top form.

Sanctuary:  This was one of the key gigs to see on the boat.  I believe this was only the second concert the band has done in 20 years, the first being a while back in Japan. I’ve enjoyed Nevermore a number of times over the years but I never thought I’d see ‘Battle Angels’ or ‘Future Tense’ live.  The band was loose and casual onstage obviously having fun playing some old songs, Warrell joking with the crowd. The music was anything but casual as they ripped through a selection from both albums ending with ‘Taste Revenge’.

Death Angel: I wasn’t as fully committed to Death Angel since the reunion several years back. However seeing the Thrashmasters enthusiasm for them, getting to meet the band AND finally seeing the band in concert, I’m back onboard. Many fellow Bay-area brethren thrashers were in attendance to watch their colleagues and despite yet another lineup change, the band just killed it live. They played stuff from every album except from ‘Frolic’ which I’m sure they are saving for the next gig. They ended with a wicked mix of ‘The Ultra-Violence and ‘Thrown To The Wolves’.

Saxon: The headliners for the second day at sea did not disappoint. Despite another frustrating late start the band sauntered onto stage with the air of conquering heroes with nothing to prove.  However they prove to the young and the curious, who came to see the NWOBHM veterans, that they still are in top form. They played the entire ‘Wheels of Steel’ album and Biff joked that the album had come out 30 years ago and they had a hard time remembering the songs!  It was another first for me to see them and to hear ‘Dogs of War’ and ‘Solid Ball of Rock’ live after all these years was truly incredible.

Testament: Over the years I’d seen Testament probably more that any other band on the cruise but come showtime my curiosity got the best of me and I headed up to the pool deck to catch some of their set. As promised the band delivered the debut album in it’s entirety. I don’t think they are capable of doing a bad show.  It was hot and packed and hearing ‘Raging Waters’ on the boat seemed very appropriate.

Korpiklaani: These quirky Finns are probably the most unique act on the boat.  Along with Finntroll and Ensiferum, (also onboard) they are among the elite of the Finnish viking clan. The sound was good enough that you could hear the fiddle and accordion clearly. The sextet seemed to get faster and crazier with each cut and by the time they played ‘Vodka’, the fans were drunk, literally and metaphorically, on the alcohol fueled party tunes.

Sodom: It was almost 2:30 am as the Teutonic terrors played the last gig of the night on the Pool Stage.  I couldn’t help but think that as we approached the Mexican coast that the locals might hear us charging across the waves, the sound traveling far across water, heralding their doom and giving the nightmares. The crowd was still several hundred strong and the trio roared through a nice blend of new and old songs from over three decades. The quote of the show was from the (very) drunk dude in front of us who screamed at the top of his lungs, from the bottom of his heart for everyone to hear, “I love you, Sodom!”  I think most of the fans felt the same but weren’t drunk enough to yell it out to the crowd!

Raven: As stated upfront, Raven was one the main reasons I came on this high seas adventure. Again a few logistical issues through the day had backed up the bands so Raven didn’t hit the stage until 3:45am to very few people as most of the survivors were catching the end of Sodom’s show. I don’t know how, but John Gallagher’s voice has held up better than almost any Metal singers over the years. Tate, Dickinson and Halford can no longer hit those high notes they used to, but Gallagher can!!  I was impressed by Rick and James Rivera at the Agent Steel gig but John sang louder, longer, higher (and crazier!) than those guys. The room filled up as the show progressed and presented the most physically energetic set of the entire night. They had more energy than all the other thrash bands on the cruise jumping around the stage like two bloody maniacs. They treated the last 100 or so standing at 4:30am to a brilliant extended version of ‘Break The Chain’ including a medley of ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’, ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Mind Over Metal and more. They were one of the first and are still one of the best.

5:00am. My head hits the pillow but not before dropping in at a raging after-party with various band members, producers, technical crew (enjoying a well deserved drink after a very long day) and a fair number of young ladies.  I’m not naming names but there will be a few more drunken sailors with regrets tomorrow.  Speaking of tomorrow…Mexico awaits!

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