Metal As Fuck Hit 70,000 Tons of Metal 2018

Cheers Cunts, Fuck Fosters!

What exactly is the metal heads dream? Could it be roaming the open seas on a luxury cruise liner with 3000 metal pirates through the Caribbean, watching 61 incredible heavy metal bands? I think Yes! This February, Metal As Fuck packed our bikinis and set off to see if all this hype was real.


The 8th jaunt of the worlds biggest heavy metal cruise, 70 000 Tons of Metal, setting sail from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on the 1st of February 2018. Armed with a strapping group of Aussie hooligans, sporting cheeky shirts printed just for the occasion - with “Cheers Cunts, Fuck Fosters” on the back, (seriously though, Fuck Fosters) we hit the ground running, or should I say swaying. Just as metal sound-waves flooded the South beaches of Miami, we flooded our livers with giant sized mojitos at the many pre-parties organised. After the Heavy metal beach party for our official photograph, lets just say I’ve learnt my lesson from drinking the infamous ‘Four Loko’ cans which are a 14% tall can of trouble. The race to the port began! After we piled onto buses with hands full of leftover pizza and stinking like a brewery we caught sight of the mighty Independence of the Seas, the chanting commenced, “BOAT, BOAT, BOAT!” - we were pretty literal. So finally after what seemed like an eternity of queueing we found ourselves on this mighty vessel. Into our staterooms and meeting our new roommates, there was no time to unpack, luckily because our bags weren’t delivered until hours later. While all the newbies walked around reading maps and looking at programs, the veterans were already sipping on bloody mary’s at the casino and mingling with band members...


The ship has three indoor venues, The Club Stage which is a smaller stage and not many good view points, Studio B, which is the converted ice-rink venue and The Theatre Stage set in the beautiful Alhambra theatre with lots of standing room and comfortable seating. (Which can be fatal if you haven’t slept in days.) The best stage is on the Pool Deck, its the worlds biggest floating outdoor stage setup, surrounded by bars and many hot tubs, this is the place to be.


A smorgasbord of buffet food in the Windjammer cafe, which boasts views of the sea behind us and was always good for the hungry, hungry head-banger, although the food is still repeating on most of us, it was salvation at the time. There was also complementary fine dining available in romantic tiered dining rooms, complete with chandeliers and three course meals. Aborted shirts, corpse paint, Viking hats and more in a five star dining experience, we had fun even though we felt the waiters couldn’t really give two shits about us. Fans dined with bands and bands dined with fans, this was a beautiful sight to see, “Excuse me Corpsegrinder, could you please pass the butter?”


The mandatory safety muster was a bit of a laugh, with all the ships alarms going off and my Balinese room attendant yelling at me not to bring my alcohol and to get to the safety point. I eventually made it there, packed like sardines into a room and some kind German strangers handed me beer they had smuggled in. Beer is an emergency! There was lots of hilarious “shushing” and theatrical hand gestures going on around the room. Our guide, a very young English lad got up on a couch and proceeded to show us how to put on a life jacket while trying not to smirk from the entire room erupting in woof whistles. Realising no one could actually hear the safety talk instructions coming from the speakers, he eventually gave up and got down. We cheered him as we ran out the door screaming for beer and with that, the loudest boat on the open seas, set sail!


The day one shows are a bit of a blur, lets just say we got the party started a little too early. Now this boat is a money making machine; they don’t miss a beat. No alcohol packages due to the nature of the cruise, but you can purchase a soft drinks package that will set you back $27 per day. That’s some fancy bubbles. I remember buying my first $8.50 beer (including 18% gratuity; sheesh!) with my sea card, which you have to sign for, but I couldn’t find a pen, the guy next to me winked and sneered in a thick southern accent, “The only option now is to sign it in blood!” After a pause, everyone at the bar laughed and I took that as my queue to head to Destruction. After some technical difficulties and vocalist Shmier asking the crowd if there were any guitar techs around because his guitar tech had left to take a photo of the front of the boat, they lead the ship into a fever (was it scurvy??) with a drum solo by Vaaver while we waited. This pit got hectic, we heard someone broke their leg, (or was that cannibal corpse?) Destruction broke an amplifier and a guy dressed as Jesus crowd surfed to Nailed to The Cross. We soon learned this was just the start of this cruises comedic value. Keeping with the theme we then found ourselves in front at the self proclaimed founders of ‘Humourcore’, Arizona’s Psychostick. Although this show was on the smaller stage in the pyramid room, they still managed to pack it out, I guess we were all very curious and they definitely lived up to their fame. Their heads are adorned with kooky hats, as they lead us through Obey the Beard, Dogs like Socks and one hell of a slow-mo circle pit. They announce they have too many songs to choose from so they had a ‘slaughtery’ (lottery) and the fans got to choose the song. The blow up T-Rex costume flailing around in the front row, just added to the silliness. Although I missed their second set, they played Sombrero Prophecy and threw a sombrero on the head of a tough guy and made everyone fight him for it, screaming “That motherfucker got the sombrero!” I would watch them ten more times if I could. Now if I’m honest, we lost a quite a few hours here, I can’t pinpoint if it was when we were drinking in the casino with Septicflesh, eating... eating again, or telling everyone we saw drinking Fosters beer to Fuck off. In spite of necking an entire bottle worth of gin, drinking most of it with my eyes after messy hugs, we somehow managed to catch Belphegor and Goatwhore before someone carried me off to bed, maybe it was my room attendant, who knows….


Now before this, I’d never been on a cruise, so I will give some warning to those playing at home, you’ve never felt a hangover like a swaying, sea sick hangover. Trust me, eat all of the hash browns you can fit on two plates, lather that shit with the magical ‘breakfast sauce’ and go to town. We had a great start to day 2 with Alestorm’s first set, on the pool deck stage, which organisers had set up all through the night to get it ready for us. The hot tub front of stage was full of balmy pirates swimming in a circle pit, battle vests and all, next to that was the ‘splash zone’, I found out the hard way. (Always look at your beer before you take a swig of hot tub water.) There was blow up everything as far as the eye could see, every second person had a blow up sword, and of course Alestorm’s giant oversized blow up rubber ‘Ducky’, making his way around the deck. Although they stated they were saving some songs for their second show, they still played through Keelhauled, The Sunk’n Norwegian and got our local Brisbane mate Phill A.K.A ‘Beef Cake’ who is on tour with them and sing an Alestorm version of Taio Cruz’ Hangover, in which Beefcake skulls some Fosters and raps the lyrics. This was a proud Brissie moment, it was also when we realised how lucky we were, the sun was gleaming, it was a beautiful 26 degrees and we were watching pirate metal on a bloody boat with people who thought it was as hilarious as we did. Metal Church made for a great afternoon snack in the Theatre. Mike Howe is such a fascinating powerhouse to watch as he runs from side to side, or maybe its the boat swaying. He jumps in and out of the crowd - most of the time it's quite hard to find where he is, but he acknowledges everyone, even those in the high seats. By the time they get to Watch the Children Play, the entire theatre is engrossed. I managed to catch up with Mike and Kurdt Vanderhoof after their show, on a balcony overlooking the ocean, to see how their cruise was going.


Mike and Kurdt, how has your cruise experience been so far? You’ve been on the cruise before? Kurdt assures me, “Our experience has been great so far! Yes we did 70000 tons back in 2013 and we were also on Monsters of Rock a few years ago.” So shall I go as far as calling you cruise ship veterans then? This is my first time so I’m still finding my sea legs, Kurdt continues, “Yeah, it takes a while to get used to it and it's a weird feeling isn’t it? You’re kind of thinking, why am I tired or why am I feeling like this?” Mike agrees, “Well I was on stage like this ‘woahhhhhh’”, as he acts out sliding all over the stage. Lies Mike! I churtle - you were actually in the crowd most of the time. We all have a giggle. So Mike you were bouncing around on stage out there today and you seem to have a lot of energy, do you think you will enter the belly flop competition? “I do not, no, I don’t think I will be entering the belly flop competition. First and foremost and something that I’m proud of is that I don’t have a belly worth entering in the competition. Because you need to have a beautiful belly to flop properly and I want to see some beautiful bellies myself, so I hope we’ll get to see it.”


Speaking of bellies, have you been into any of the dining rooms and sat down with any fans? Mike continues, “Yes, we’ve been into Macbeths, we sat down with some fans and had lunch yesterday actually. They were some guys from Southern California, really surprised like ‘oh my god’, so we just sat down and then they were like ‘oh my god, we can’t believe we’re eating with Metal Church!’ We just said ‘we can’t believe we’re eating with you!’ That's adorable, I bet they were stoked, and Kurdt, what’s happening for you guys tour wise this year? “Well nothing actually, we are going to start recording a new album next month, so we will be very busy this year.” So this is your relaxation time before you hit the studio hard then - you also have tomorrow off, we will be docking at Cockburn town, do you guys have any plans? Mike confirms, “Absolutely I will be going snorkelling, wanna come? I love swimming with the fishes! I need to get some energy out so I will go diving.” Kurdt announces, “Well I’m not planning anything - I’m just going to get off the boat and lie in the sun and get in the water and get out of the water and get under the sun and lie on the beach... I think you get it, I need some Vitamin D.” After another quick chat about how much they are dying to tour Australia, (listen up Aussie promoters) I thanked them for the yarn and told them I would see them on the beach.


I’m guessing sea legs have to grow on you, because lying in your bed trying not to spew isn’t the best when you know you’re missing bands. The tap water was warm so I ordered a bottle of water from room service, I was that desperate and for only 13 bucks, they brought me one after 15 minutes! The tribal sounds of none other than Brazil’s Sepultura got my heart beating, brought me out of my coma and running out of my room. Derek Green is one massive chunk of muscle, from his vocals to his drumming sessions he made the punters on the floor of the Theatre go wild for Chaos AD. Fully recovered, we had the need for more booze and some French mayhem with Benighted. These guys crushed the pyramid stage, a brutal pit ensued, lead by a man that looked about 60 years old, running and smashing into everyone. The madness only continued through Let the Blood Spill Between My Broken Teeth, my mate even broke a rib in there somewhere. Trying to take it down a notch, we traded our boots for bikinis and settled into the hot tubs side of stage for the best view of the pool deck shows. We made ourselves at home in there throughout the Samael and Aborted sets, made a lot of new friends and I wish we could say we came out cleaner then when we got in, but what happens in the hot tub, stays in the hot tub…. Except for the tiny barnacles, they were all over me.



While this boat of weary eyed scallywags woke up docked in the Turks and Caicos islands in day 3, I woke up more wrinkly than your grandpa's balls, after 5 hours in a hot tub and maybe an hours sleep, I was now a fucking barnacle. Barnacles can also sleep when they’re dead! The white sandy beaches of Cockburn Town were turned black with metal shirts and coloured with all the hair colours of the heavy metal rainbow. I saw blow up evil unicorns floating around, pentagrams in the sand and adventurers exploring the shipwreck - while the organised folk were off on their off shore excursions with band members. But for us, the giant drinks at Margaritaville and the free beach chairs were calling. I had never seen a beach that beautiful, and the metal heads splashing around like 5 year olds with our ship as the backdrop, only added to the beauty. But before we knew it, we were back on our temporary home, sipping down rum and watching the stragglers run for the jetty from our balcony. What we didn’t realise was the time difference from the island to the boat, (ha, newbies) so you could imagine our excitement when we realised we actually hadn’t missed Battle Beast. Vocalist Noora Louhimo’s high kicks are almost as high as her vocal range, she is a warrior and an absolute pleasure to watch perform. She wails from underneath her black hood from Familiar Hell to Black Ninja, Eero Sipilä on bass declares, “This one is so heavy you’ll have to call this boat 70,001 tons of metal” as they burn through their set. Back through the casino for a quick round on the pokie machines and a sexy group glamour photo, it was time for some Californian Thrash with Exodus. Steve ‘Zetro’ Souza was his usual wild self behind the microphone, calling us all fucking Deranged. To our left there was a dude standing alone in full Edward Scissorhands getup, clicking all his scissor fingers in the air to Body Harvest, I haven’t laughed so hard in a while. They welcomed on stage Andreas Kisser on guitar from Sepultura and Brian Werner from Vital Remains on dual vocals. After Blacklist, Brian jumped into the crowd like a mad man and crowd surfed all the way to the back.


As the sun set on the third day, we had definitely made some bullshit deal with the sea witch, because our voices were gone and we could barely stand on our legs. We were floundering *boom-tish*. While trying to transform into something with spines, we grabbed some Royal Delight coffees, (pretty much just booze and espresso) and met Dave Hunt vocalist of Benediction and Anaal Nathrakh in the coffee shop. With his humble Birmingham accent and mannerisms you wouldn’t think that he could turn into a vocal ogre and perform such a blistering set of Death metal. Benediction have been around for over 25 years and Dave announced that it made him feel old and Horny at the same time, before pushing through “the fastest song they’ve ever played”, The Dreams You Dread. Catching a few songs from Korpiklaani, we conga-lined through the casino and played our very bad luck at the roulette tables. Corpsegrinder had become the life of the party on this floating festival of doom, he was seen everywhere and most of the time he was sporting two drinks in each hand, hanging out with new found friends. So it was a must to catch Cannibal Corpse’s set in the Theatre and things got pretty extreme down there, even when they did their guitar sound check to Rock Lobster. There was a circle pit in the middle made entirely of dudes dressed as Ace Ventura, a blow up hammerhead shark floating around with severed fake arms and legs following, it was a fucking random site. We’re not sure at exactly which set, but someone took Hammer Smashed Face to another level as we saw a guy literally picking someone else’s teeth out of the back of his head... we saw the stitches later! I mean, we shouldn’t expect anything less from a Cannibal Corpse set.


Now as much as I really hate to admit it, we were sleepy, but those chairs are so comfortable and you know you’re tired when you’re falling asleep to Death metal, so midnight snack time it was. Apparently I was so shit-faced, I had a face covered in food and was eating guacamole out of a bowl with a soup spoon. I was aggressively loud and even bands that were sitting around us got up and moved. I’d call that a win. This is when things get sad.. do not attempt to have a one hour power nap and then proceed to wake up and see a band at 4am… it just won't happen. I felt like I had turned inside out.


Super metal Sunday aka our last day - started with a massive breakfast, you’ve gotta get those three plates of hash browns into you and we headed up to the infamous 70k Belly Flop Contest, hosted by none other than Kim ‘Vulvatron’ Dylla of Gwar! And judged by an assortment of band members getting soaked as they held up their scorecards was a highlight of the competition. A Viking, a giant chicken, a Deadpool, and a giant beer can were just a few of the contenders. Emerging from their flop holes with red faces and smiles they were handed towels by the 70k pool girls and greeted with adelation from the crowds. We went for a quick swim and had a beer with Corpsegrinder who assured us that The Eagles would most definitely win the super bowl that afternoon. Then it was finally time for the All Star Jam, hosted by Jeff Waters of Annihilator - we took our soaked bodies straight out of the pool and into the air con. This was one of the greatest parts about 70k, seeing so many artists from different genres of metal, jam together to play some of the greats! It was a little disheartening that Adrienne Cowen of Seven Spires didn’t know the lyrics to Rock You Like a Hurricane but hey, it was entertaining as all hell. And seriously I’ve never had an experience quite like seeing members of Exhumed, Destruction, Insomnium, Voivod and Enslaved band together to smash out Slayer’s Chemical Warfare, it was also fascinating to see all these artists out of their comfort zone. Aborted had the funniest pit of the day by far, everyone was synchronised and hell bent on creating utter chaos, this was the last day after all. With a view from above for this one, we witnessed a beekeeper fighting with Goku, a crowd surfing werewolf, Jesus was there too and let's not forget the guys in onesies who had the genius idea to bring pillows from their state rooms and start a brutal pillow fight. I wonder if they ever got that one down from the lighting rig. Vocalist Sven "Svencho" de Caluwe wails, “This next song is about Pokemon, if Pokemon was about murdering! Gotta get em all!” He then welcomed Benighted heavy weight Julien Truchan on stage for one lumbering vocal duet and later on we saw a guy walk out with his toenails in his hands. Brutal.


Sneaking rum runners (look them up) down our tops, we were called by the epic orchestral sounds of Greek masters, Septicflesh to the front of their stage. Septic were like the sirens of the sea - we couldn’t look away. They started by acknowledging members of our aussie contingent in the front, which was brilliant in itself. “My friends!!” We were all their friends, as we were drawn to the magnetic force that is a Septicflesh performance. Running off the back of their 2017 Album Codex Omega, they made sure to play Martyr and Dark Art, but the real bewitchment started on us at the opening notes of Anubis...


Over to the Macbeth dining room we went for one last piece of luxury, even if it was $50 for one bottle of wine. To be wined and dined is one thing, but to have your mate get in to the Dining rooms wearing flip flops he drew on himself with a sharpie is another. Stomach’s full of fancy scallops, escargot and crème brulee, we decided to digest in the hot tubs for some side of stage Kreator action. It's times like these you need to pinch yourself and remember this is a holiday for the bands as much as it is for you, there is no VIP area for them to escape to. Hence why we found ourselves soaking in the hot bubbly pee of a few thousand sailors, with Korpiklaani, screaming the lyrics to Enemy of God at the top of our lungs while we watched it live. We had a full view of the crowd surfers getting thrown up one by one, including a guy in a wheelchair which was one of those awe-inspiring moments. We must shout out to the amazing security personnel on this cruise as well. They did such a great job looking after us and you could often hear the crowd chanting and thanking them, “Safety first! Safety First!” Mille Petroza spotted us in between vocal parts to flash us the horns and scream through the barrier Satan is Real! This was definitely one ticked off the bucket list. After the skippers ‘thank you’ address, we were followed by a man sized whoopee cushion and I think we soaked half of the boat sprinting down be front of stage for the last set of the night and of the cruise, Alestorm. They absolutely saved the best party band for last, not a dry seat in the house, literally, everything was sopping wet, if not with water, with rum! Chris Bowes was easily the funniest Scotsman on the boat, he gloated that if they didn’t play our favourite song, then we can fuck off. The well lubricated crowd were lapping it up and when hundreds sat down on the ground and began rowing in unison, we couldn’t help but see the irony. All was going well, all costumes were on, rum runners flying in the air, the place had turned to utter madness, until Alestorm's blow up ducky came to an untimely death in the moshpit. “You Murderers!” Alestorm cried, “This is why we can't have nice things!!!” But nonetheless they continued. Chris shouts “Fuck it! This one is Drink for Dogs!” They went on to sing the entire song in “ruffs” and so did the audience, including me, I’d never felt so ridiculous but I was loving it! Apart from Joakim of Sabaton eating shit on stage, this was the funniest thing we’d seen all cruise. Alas, all great sets must come to an end and what a better way then to be holding your middle fingers high in the air and bellowing Fuck you with an anchor at the faces of your new mates. Poor Ducky, RIP.


Metal karaoke on the Pool deck came next, maybe some late night pizza and helping drunk musicians put on their boots and pants outside a hot tub was somewhere in there as well. We made the long walk back to our cabin, passed the giant chicken guy spewing onto his stomach in a lounge chair, passed the twelve year old boy nailing System of a down on the mic. and said goodnight to the girl in the garbage bag dress as we told her to Fuck Fosters. Passing out on those memory foam beds one last time was bliss and sad at the same time. So I guess we go back to our question at the beginning, could this be the metal heads dream? Although I personally like my feet stuck on the holy land at Wacken; if you can muster up the funds, and swallow the price of the soft drinks package - 70 000 Tons of Metal, should have a slot on your list for sure.