100% HEAVY / 100% Free / 0% Spam

70000 TONS OF METAL Wrap-Up

Share This:

Words by Kylie Hayes

Pix by Jenna Flood Photography

Mon 29 Jan 2024 – Day 1

From yesterday’s sea of metalheads on Miami Beach for the annual beach party to an even bigger sea of metalheads at the Port of Miami, we board the Freedom of the Seas for 70000 Tons of Metal XII!

Although the process is a little more streamlined than previous years, with pre-board check-in, there is still queuing to have IDs checked and bags scanned. Once on board, there is music pumping in the promenade, with metalheads filling the bars and the Windjammer buffet, all getting primed for what will be a huge 4 days of live performances, meet and greets, karaoke, belly flop competitions and all star jams.

First band up for me is Moldova’s Infected Rain in the Star Lounge, yet with its low ceiling and low stage, the punters are packed in to see them being one of two first bands to play, The band, fronted by Lena Scissorhands, bring a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, offering up some modern metal progressive sounds a little reminiscent of nu metal.

After a few songs, I jumped over to the Ice Rink (my favourite stage), to catch Heidevolk. A 6 piece band featuring 2 singers, they had the packed audience in the palm of their hand with a huge circle mosh on the floor and much fist pumping and air drumming from the stands. Singing entirely in Dutch, they power through their folk/Viking style metal leaving the crowd with huge smiles on their faces.

Next up on the agenda is Finnish stalwarts Waltari, who are a nice difference for this cruise. They combine a lot of styles, bringing pop and synth elements to heavy tunes. They even did a cover of Madonna‘s Vogue…yep, now I’ve seen everything.

It’s always nice to fit a fancy dinner in on this cruise. As the main dining room is included in the food offerings, and this is my least packed itinerary of the days, I chose to do a first night fancy dinner. The beautiful dining room with its glitzy chandeliers and white table cloths is so surreal, filled with mostly black wearing metal heads. Put on a shared table, we were able to meet some people from other countries and trade stories. Had myself a very nice steak and then back into the fray to see The Halo Effect. This band are awesome, and my favourite for the day so far. Although they are a relatively new band, they are metal veterans featuring previous members of In Flames and Dark Tranquility and are an absolute powerhouse. They packed out the Theatre and judging from the crowd participation, went over a treat, playing tracks from their upcoming album set to be released later this year.

Tue 30 Jan 2024 – Day 2
First band to see today are Scar Symmetry, Swedish Melodic death, on the Pool deck. They sound great and fire up the crowd with a mixed set across all of their albums. These guys are touring Australia in April and Aussie melodeath fans must get to a show as they are fantastic live.

Next up, I Am The Night for some black metal, they set the mood with some dark atmosphere and inspired some circle moshing on the Ice Rink stage. This band is a side project for Omnium Gatherum’s Markus Vanhala and Before the Dawn’s Juho Raiha.

Back to the Star Lounge to see Iotunn, a progressive melodic band out of Denmark. They impress with their fast style of melodic guitar and versatile vocals, playing songs from their 2021 full-length album Access All Worlds.

Then a band who I’ve been excited to see since starting to listen to them to prepare for the cruise, Shores of Null. The Italian band, based in Rome have been around for about 10 years and create some hauntingly beautiful, slower-paced melodic black / doom metal with mostly clean vocals. Their first set of the cruise is the 38-minute Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying). This rollercoaster mid-tempo doom masterpiece takes you on a journey through the five stages of grief and is pulled off amazingly well in the lounge to an appreciative audience.

I elected to catch Batushka’s theatre show from the seats, and it was a perfect way to take in the dark atmosphere of red light and mood for their unique brand of show/ritual. This edition of Batushka, Krzysztof Drabkiowskis Batushka, is considered by many to be the original Batushka, as Drabikowski formed the band in 2015. A dispute in 2018 led to a split, resulting in there now being two Batushka’s. Either way, this show was a mesmerising dark mass, sung entirely in Church Slavonic language, and incredible to experience in the ship’s theatre.

Epica’s set on the pool deck drew a huge crowd, with many metal heads we spoke with saying they were the band they were there to see. They sound amazing, clear and clean, and gave the fans what they came to see!

Weds 31 Jan 2024 – Day 3
Day 3 is Shore Day! Each year has a different destination and this year we dock at Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The festival offers a number of excursions with band members, all of which sell out very quickly. From swimming with dolphins with members of Blind Guardian, to snorkelling with Omnium Gatherum, it’s a great way to combine adventure with your favourite bands. I chose a relaxing beach day, which was a nice break away from the boat.

Back on board I caught Warkings on the Pool Deck, a power metal outfit complete with fantasy costumes, good fun and visually entertaining. Skyforger from Lativa up next in the Ice Rink bring some unique energy with their blend of folk and black metal.

Canada’s Kataklysm are next on the pool deck, sounding amazing and delivering classic old-school thrash. The hot tub occupants go crazy moshing and hot tub crowd-surfing… splashing tepid water all over the place. Honestly, this is the only place in the world you can mosh in a hot tub to live metal, so why not?

I had heard that Nanowar of Steel put on a very amusing and fun show, so made sure I caught their 2nd set of the cruise. These Italian metal comedians put on a very entertaining show, at one point calling for a ‘Wall of Love’ as opposed to a wall of death, where they ask the crowd to part and then come together to hug and dance. Lots of fun and the crowd embrace it (literally).

Band of the day for me is Omnium Gatherum in the Theatre. This 6 piece melodic death band from Finland put on an energetic and fun show. You can really tell they love what they do and that they are having a great time on stage. They play a mixed set of tunes from across their impressive catalogue, including a cover of Maniac by Michael Sembello… yep that one, she’s a maniac, maaaaaniac! as their closer.

Thu 1 Feb 2024 – Day 4
Kicking off Day 4 in the Ice Rink is Left Ovr from Puerto Rico. They won the Caribbean Wacken Battle in 2023 and are here on 70K, bringing their infectious brand of groove metal. These guys play with heart and passion, and the crowd loved it.

ACOD are up next in the Ice Rink. This band from France offer up a blend of many styles of metal, blackened death atmospheric with a bit of thrash thrown in. I enjoyed their set, as did the rest of the crowd.

Wind Rose in the Theatre was an absolute hoot. The crowd loved them, they put on a fantastic show and of course, finished with their cult classic Diggy Diggy Hole complete with 1000 blow-up axes being brandished by the crowd. What fun. These guys are touring Australia in May and I highly recommend catching a show as they are a ton of fun and put on an excellent live show.

Fleshgod Apocalypse on the pool deck inspire much hot tub and dry land moshing. This stage is by far the wildest, there is something about being outside on a moving boat that just inspires chaos, and Fleshgod are the perfect soundtrack to that.

One of the few bands I saw twice, The Halo Effect, put on a great show on the pool deck, bringing the intensity of their first set to the outdoor stage. Much crowd participation and lots of blow up shark crowd surfing action as well.

I caught Before the Dawn in the Ice Rink, Finnish melodic death with clean singing mixed with deep growls, lots of windmilling from the guitarists and circle moshing from the crowd. This band features Tuomas Saukkonen who is also a member of another band on board, Wolfheart.

Wolfheart are touring Australia this month with Fleshgod Apocalypse. Their melodic thrash sound definitely had the punters energised, and I encourage everyone to get to one of their shows on this upcoming tour.

Shores of Null in the Ice Rink closed out my festival, this band has been the find of the festival for me. Their 2nd set includes several tracks from their latest album The Loss of Beauty which is a fantastic album, showcasing David Straccione’s amazing vocals, and their creative take on doom metal. It’s just my cup of tea, and I have to recommend you all check ‘em out.

Although it is a long way to go for an Aussie metalhead, I have to recommend this cruise as it is a fantastic one-of-a-kind experience, great fun and a huge lineup each year. See you onboard, sailors!

Discover more like this on HEAVY:

Our Picks.

Get the HEAVY

Get the HEAVY Digi-Mag in-boxed weekly. 100% HEAVY / 0%SPAM.