Day two kicked off at 10 am with the first pool deck show of the cruise with Power Metal veterans Masterplan. The pool deck is the biggest and most impressive stage on the cruise, combining an outdoor festival atmosphere with impeccable sound, and the ability to watch bands from the hot tub. Masterplan proved their place in the Metal landscape with a ripper of a set, with a fast pace and engaging banter that brought the slumbering and hungover Metalheads back to the land of the living for the day ahead. Roland Grapow‘s shredding was first rate and mind-bending, while Rick Altzi‘s vocals soared over the ocean with perfection.
Also gracing the pool deck was the incomparable spectacle of Pirate Metal pioneers (or is that buccaneers?) Alestorm. The alcohol-fuelled swashbucklers ripped through a set of new and classic songs, kicking off with live mainstay Keelhauled and including the anthemic Hangover. As is to be expected, the show was utter chaos, with a massive inflatable duck being bounced around the audience for the duration of the show, as well as an inflatable duckie pool toy brought by a fan. While frontman Chris Bowes claimed this set included “all the shit songs,” in anticipation of day four’s cruise-closing show at the Alhambra Theatre, it absolutely went off with the fans.
In the evening Septicflesh played the Ice Rink, and while some fans bemoaned the quality of the sound, it did seem that the set sounded somewhat homogeneous. Though the band certainly put in a lot of energy, there wasn’t a great sense of variation. That being said, their excellent set to follow proved there may have been something in the assertion that the sound wasn’t working for them this time around.
The world’s happiest Metal band, Freedom Call, played their first show in the Pyramid Lounge, and they certainly took control of the room. Frontman Chris Bay kept up the banter throughout the show, though the crowd contributed their own laughs when Bay brought out an assistant to hold his acoustic guitar, opening up the biggest chant of the show with “Hu-man stand! Hu-man stand!” This got the band laughing and sharing even more mirth for the uplifting show that focused firmly on the unity of the Metal community.
Quite possibly the strongest show of the entire cruise however, was Sabaton‘s pool deck show. The military history-themed Power Metal band from Sweden hit the stage to an absolutely packed deck, and the fans weren’t the slightest bit perturbed as the tropical rain came down upon them – especially those in the hot tubs. The whole deck was shaking with the constant jumping of the crowd, and even frontman Joachim Broden seemed genuinely overwhelmed by how often and loudly the crowd broke out in chanting the band’s name. The career-spanning set seemed perfectly chosen, with fans giving equal passion and welcome to deep cuts such as Cliffs of Gallipoli that, according to Broden, initially didn’t go over so well with fans, as Sabaton classics such as Panzer Battalion and Primo Victoria.
One of the heaviest bands on the cruise, Sweden’s Meshuggah took to the Alhambra Theatre and absolutely tore it apart. The wall of technical, progressive, Death Metal sound was a stark contrast to the Power Metal of Freedom Call and Sabaton, but likewise drew a massive and active crowd. Meshuggah are well known for their technical precision, and this show was no exception – but it also possessed a transcendental intensity that made it a special example of the already powerful Meshuggah experience.
Next up on the pool deck were one of Gothenburg’s finest in melodic Death Metal, Dark Tranquillity, with another of the very best performances of the cruise. Dark Tranquillity have had a number of changes to the touring line-up with the addition of Johan Reinholdz and former Arch Enemy member Christopher Amott on guitars. Reinholdz and Amott add deeper layers of complexity to the music, particularly in the band’s judiciously placed solos. Meanwhile, Mikael Stanne is one of the most energetic and charismatic frontmen in the business, as well as having deeply soulful clean vocals in addition to tremendous growls.
Dark Tranquillity were followed on the pool deck by Samael, a similarly heavy Swiss band but with a very different approach. Samael have the most outright “Gothic” look of all the bands on the boat, closely followed by Witchery’s Angus Norder. With a strong Industrial influence overlaying a Black Metal feel, Samael are on of the few bands on the line-up who can really get the crowd dancing. It’s something a little different to see bikini-clad girls swaying their hips to Samael, but that’s the boat for you. Samael put on a fiendishly heavy performance, with frontman Vorph presenting the perfect balance between his sinister occult persona, and joyful interaction with the crowd.
Punters at 70,000 Tons of Metal were very fortunate to witness the first ever performance of Witherfall, featuring former Iced Earth guitarist Jake Dreyer, who also performs live with Kobra and the Lotus. Witherfall hit the crowd with a solid Heavy Metal sound, not as deep down the Power Metal path as Iced Earth, let alone a band like Freedom Call. This was a particularly touching performance, as the band had the ashes of their fallen bandmate Adam Sagan scattered on the stage of the Alhambra Theatre, a fitting and moving tribute to the man who always said he would get one of his bands to 70,000 Tons of Metal. Witherfall made sure he made it.
With Witherfall finishing in the very early hours of the morning, little was left but to anticipate a day on the beaches of Grand Turk, and of course the performances of day three.
MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR RECAP OF DAY THREE HERE!