Worse things happen at sea, as the old saying goes, and today is testament to that. The Pool Deck stage (aka the biggest stage on the cruise) still isn’t ready or indeed built by the time Trollfest’s set rolls round for an early morning metal session. Rumours are rife that the high winds are the problem, but at the official press conference, the organiser of 70,000 Tons (known as The Skipper) has some more information…
The person in charge of the build “started to build in the wrong direction” he says bluntly. Slightly embarrassing admittedly, but he assures the gathered journos that it will be up and running for tonight. However, it does mean that the inaugural hockey championship scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled to accommodate the bands who couldn’t play today – including the Blind line-up of Corrosion Of Conformity. He goes on to mention that next year’s cruise won’t be taking place on this vessel as the Liberty Of The Seas is moving to a different home port.
But while the future of 70,000 Tons is a tantalising prospect, we’ve still got this year to survive and one band doing their best to stop that is Cannibal Corpse. Drawing the biggest crowd of the weekend thus far, Corpsegrinder and co. deliver 60 minutes of savagery – entrails and all. “The master of disaster is back” grins the owner of the biggest neck in metal, before launching knife-first into a blood-spattering of new cuts and choice favourites, from the pummelling Sadistic Embodiment to the groove-tinged The Retched Spawn. The cartoonish violence depicted in CC’s song titles and lyrics is enough to make any overly sensitive parent vomit with fear, but us metalheads thrive on the gore – especially for the “love song” I Cum Blood.
Over on the Pool Deck, the stage is finally set for Max Cavalera and his merry men in Soulfly. The swimming pool is full of sweaty bodies (by the end of the night it’s more booze than water) and the masses are gathering on the barrier for a certified legend to do what he does best. Opening with an ear-battering The Prophecy, it’s a greatest hits set from the Brazilian heavies. Surrounded in smoke, Max and his superdread belt out his signature bark across the ocean. Rushing through the big guns of Babylon and Seek ‘N’ Strike, there’s another reason why Max is a hero… “What do you want to hear?” he asks the warriors down front, to be met with a resounding “ROOOOOOOOTS!” from everyone present. While his Sepultura days might be over, few things top seeing on half of the Cavalera brothers hammer through Roots Bloody Roots with all the might and intensity of his former self.
Following on from Soulfly is a different, much more evil beast in Venom. As the intro played at the beginning states, they’re “from the very depths of hell” and have managed to stay there throughout their career – surfacing only to remind us they’re the forerunners of black metal and to an extent thrash too. And opener Black Metal solidifies their status as one of the old guard still fighting hard – although Cronos is playing a guitar borrowed from Arch Enemy because (in his words) British Airways are “wankers”. Followed by the horns-up anthems of Bloodlust, Antichrist and Pedal To The Metal, the entire cruise is hailing him and moshing their arses off to the godfathers of hell – there’s even madness in the pool (a splash pit?). Climaxing on a devilish one-two of Welcome To Hell and In League With Satan, it’s been noting short of a clinic on how to stay relevant, heavy and downright fucking evil.
But perhaps that baton has been passed to the man known as Nergal and the titans of blackened death metal: Behemoth. As midnight passes and the stars are out, a horrific crying and painful wailing blasts over the speakers before the four horsemen enter the stage and the ominous guitar of Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel comes blasting over the PA. There are no noise curfews in the middle of the ocean and Behemoth are making full use of the audio onslaught at their disposal. It’s a powerful image, a band built on pure darkness sailing the ocean at midnight playing Satanic hymns Conquer All and Furor Divinus – it’s slightly different to that cruise your nan went on. But what Behemoth create on stage is art and there’s a genuine fear that you’re somehow being converted to Beelzebub’s horde. The crew poke their heads out due to the sheer volume, and seem both mystified and terrified by the show before them as Nergal’s bellow scares the fins off any nearby wildlife. “Stay strong and get fucked up” are his parting words, but we don’t need encouraging. We’re off to Jamaica tomorrow.