The morning and afternoon of day three of the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise brought a well-deserved break for bands and Metalheads alike, as those who were still awake and possessed of energy disembarked to spend the day on the beaches of Grand Turk. Many fans got to spend time with the band members in this idyllic setting, including a lucky few who swam with manta rays alongside members of Meshuggah. Of course, the 70,000 Tons punters weren’t really there to lounge around on the beach, so they were soon back on board the Independence of the Seas for more Metal rampaging.

One of the first cabs of the rank was the Power Metal force of nature, Battle Beast. Having played one of the latest slots the night before (or rather very early in the morning), Battle Beast put on an incredibly powerful and fun show with their fast, punchy tunes. Frontwoman Noora Louhimo was a fierce presence on stage, while guitarist Juuso Soinio came out with the most gloriously cheesy quote of the entire cruise: “We’re going to play a song so heavy, they’ll have to rename it 71,000 Tons of Metal!” While in reality they were far from the heaviest band on the line-up, they were certainly up there with the most enjoyable.

Exodus took to the pool deck to deliver a classic Thrash Metal rampage, much to the pleasure of the old school. That’s not to detract anything from the newer material however, as the selections from the band’s latest release, ‘Blood In, Blood Out,’ were also very well received. In the spirit of the festival, the set also included guest appearances from Sepultura‘s Andreas Kisser, and Vital RemainsBrian Warner, creating a unique experience for the audience.

Back in the Alhambra Theatre, the perhaps underrated Evergrey delivered an absolutely stellar set that was no doubt an eye-opener for any who hadn’t seen them before. Their refined style seems to grow from Power Metal, but move in a heavier direction; and lean towards Prog, without losing the catchy hooks of their tunes. Perhaps the most apt comparison would be with Symphony X, though Evergrey really are in a class of their own, and certainly deserving of more recognition as a relatively unsung dark horse of the line-up.

A tough act to follow, that duty nevertheless fell to crowd-pleasing Folk Metal stalwarts, Korpiklaani. There’s no doubt these Finns are a party band, and their alcohol-fuelled revels went over exceedingly well with a crowd right in the middle of a raucous four-day celebration of Metal. Korpiklaani fill the stage with nine members, with unconventional instruments such as the violin and the accordion supporting more traditional (in Metal terms) guitar, bass and drums. Though there are many winners among the songs of the band’s catalogue, including their celebrations of Tequila, Vodka, and Beer Beer they could be considered something of a one-trick pony, somewhat lacking diversity in their set.

It takes a massive stage to handle a Meshuggah show, so naturally these heavy titans played a show on the pool deck. The intensity of the set was just about enough to split the ship in two, but that being said, there was little aside from the bigger stage to set this show apart from their previous performance in the Alhambra Theatre. While the setlist may change, in many ways a Meshuggah show is a Meshuggah show, with the sheer technical precision required of the band leading to some homogeneity of their performances, as excellent as they are.

From the intensely focused to the joyously extroverted, Sirenia put on a dynamic and uplifting show in the ice rink. Vocalist Emmanuelle Zoldan is a veteran of the band, but only stepped up to frontline duties relatively recently with Sirenia’s latest album, ‘Dim Days of Dolor.’ Zoldan’s performance is practically flawless however, and includes plenty of engagement with the audience as she takes on every song with smiles and warmth. As well as new material, the set contained plenty of songs from the game-changer for Sirenia, ‘Perils of the Deep Blue,’ making for a wonderfully curated selection of songs.

Back on the pool deck, Finland’s premiere Power Metal band Sonata Arctica won the hearts of fans of their emotionally-charged material with an intensely old-school set. There was little in the set from after ‘Unia,’ but that didn’t stop frontman Tony Kakko from presenting the material with such deep pathos it was as if the audience were feeling the emotions for the first time with him. Not to be outdone, guitarist Elias Viljanen and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg were at the top of their game as they shredded through the material. It was all too soon Sonata Arctica closed their set with the traditional call for “Vodka, we need some vodka!”

Freedom Call were able to perform with more refined sound in the Alhambra Theatre after their first show in the Pyramid Lounge, but there was otherwise little to distinguish the two performances – which was disappointing after frontman Chris Bay indicated the sets would be at least somewhat different. Even the banter was somewhat similar, though the callbacks to the previous set were appreciated by those who attended both.

Insomnium‘s pool deck performance was a special one, as they played their most recent release, the 40-minute epic ‘Winter’s Gate’ in full. It was a majestic performance as the band wove their way through the intricate composition that, despite its length, at no point gets tired. The same couldn’t necessarily be said of the crowd; Insomnium performed fairly late, and the crowd didn’t display the same energy as at their earlier set. Sadly this was also reflected in the band’s performance, which while still undeniably strong, fell short of the first set in the Alhambra Theatre.

Like Freedom Call, Witchery benefited from much improved sound for their second set, though this was far more pronounced for Witchery when they played their ice rink set. Fans were able to much more deeply appreciate the layers of complexity in the band’s very heavy sound, and this was reflected in the great response. Frontman Angus Norder kept the crowd riled up with his constant moving about the stage and calling for action, drawing an impressive mosh and thankfully getting the chance to really show what Witchery can do.

Despite having an incredibly late (or again, early) slot, the Japanese masters of ferociously fast Death Metal, Gyze, absolutely packed out the Pyramid Lounge. Due to the mostly flat layout, it was almost impossible to catch a glimpse of the band, but there was no struggle hearing them. Comparable to a perhaps slightly more melodic Children of Bodom, Gyze were one of the most surprising bands of the line-up, but word of mouth amongst the nautical community of Metalheads ensured they got the attention they deserved.