BraveWords continues its report on 70000 Tons Of Metal 2014, which sailed from January 27th to 31st from Miami, Florida to Costa Maya, Mexico and back! Check out part I here
Hola Mexico! Costa Maya was the destination as voted by the people! Personally I would've rather ventured to the Turks And Caicos Islands (there was a fan vote), but majority rules. And it doesn't take much to twist my rubber arm and soak in the sun and flavours of this beautiful country! But the late arrival (noon) and early "All Aboard" made for a quick sneak-peak at a small gem in the Caribbean Sea. A more formal but brief description courtesy of Puertocostamaya.com
reads: "It is the first Western Caribbean port designed exclusively for the cruise ship industry and is strategically located just hours from Cancun on Mexico's southern Yucatan Peninsula, set against the deep turquoise sea."
And they are correct … arguably one of the most picturesque shorelines I've ever encountered in my over 25 years-plus of beach-combing, Costa Maya was a quaint and relaxed port of call, with plenty of activities (jungle tours, coral diving etc…). But just find me a bar and find me food. First up is typo priority; find a market and grab a local brew Tecate Titanium (chilada-style with ice, lime juice and salted rim) and load up on spices and soft tortillas for the trip home (authentic beats Old El Paso!). And of course since we launched our Eat, Drink & Be Metal! blog, aside from getting rays and checking out the surf, one crucial suggestion. Ask a local where THEY eat and hope to hell they point you in the right direction. And one gentleman did; Nohoch Kay Beach Club, a restaurant overlooking the water, but slightly detached for those to take advantage of their lounging and massaging facilities. So I proceeded to to make my palate dance with another cerveza and margarita (yes, double-fisted of course) and try the home-made chips with their version of salsa and my mouth is still burning beautifully! The main course had to be the soft tacos; three filled with fish, shrimp, lobster, octopus and bursting with succulent spice perfectly complimenting the array of seafood! Mexico ranks as one of the key culinary experiences in life.
What better band to greet a bunch of tequila-laced metalheads on a 90 degree day in Mexico than OBITUARY, who slayed once again, this time on the Pool Deck. Not sure how to describe the high of watching a pillar of death metal with a back-drop being the Yucatan Peninsula! The stage was also home to ORPHANED LAND, SATYRICON and CARCASS once again until my sombrero was pulled over my eyes for the duration of the evening!
Day 4 (Thursday, January 30th): partly cloudy, 82 F / 28 C. And that forecast ended up to be farthest from the truth as 70000 Tons Of Metal experienced its first complete wash-out ever! But as Skipper Andy Piller stated during the press conference, it's not like you were forced to sleep in a wet tent as the monsoon-like rains pelted the ship. All outdoor shows were moved inside, so the schedule made for a bit of a frenzy as fans tried to figure out who was where and when!
And we've all heard of a foghorn which according to an official definition is "a fog signal that uses sound to warn vehicles of navigational hazards or boats in foggy conditions." And there was definitely an issue with the weather as the signal echoed most of the day. But I wondered why so many repeats? Speaking to a boater buddy back in Miami (thanks Bübi Bottle
Craig!) - who has traversed the waters off of Florida for years - he says that many people are sleeping in their cabins, so the fog horn is a true wake-up call for smaller vessels when such an enormity as the Majesty Of The Seas is approaching!
Back to business … the glorious DEATH ANGEL toppled with another set focused on their latest triumph, The Dream Calls For Blood, although 'Evil Priest', 'Thrown To The Wolves' threw the pit into a frenzy until the band dove into their version of the BLACK SABBATH classic 'Heaven And Hell', singer Mark Osegueda's lungs never sounding better. But prior to our departure from Miami, I was burning to tell the singer about my first encounter with the band.
It was back in 1987. My folks used to take the family to an annual reunion of sorts to the small Lake Michigan beach town of Ludington where all my distant cousins from around the US would gather (most ironically from CHEAP TRICK's town of Rockford, Illinois!). I was just out of my teens when I encountered this station called Z-Rock, who played hard rock and heavy metal 24/7. Seriously, for a kid from Canada into metal, this was heaven AND hell! Every waking moment I'd have my cassette Walkman radio tuned in hearing all sorts of new music like this band new called GUNS N' ROSES (Appetite was just rearing its ugly head) and this young Bay Area band with Filipino roots who had released their debut The Ultra-Violence when they were all under 20 years old! And every time I hear 'Voracious Souls', it takes me back to the shores of Lake Michigan.
Other highlights before virtually everyone headed to the Karaoke bar included a thrash lesson from VICIOUS RUMORS (but I sadly missed their first set where the band played the entire Digital Dictator album in its entirety for the first time ever!), FINNTROLL, OVERKILL (of course) and THE HAUNTED who delivered an old school set complete with their new single, 'Eye Of The Storm'. And it was great to see BW&BK's old friend Patrik Jensen again.
Back to the beginning of this whale-of-a-tale! With a glare from my Filipino room steward, I quickly stumble around my room to pack up the remainder of my luggage (it's standard procedure that all luggage is collected the night before) and still quite intoxicated, make my way through customs and off the ship to a waiting cab which takes me back to South Beach for a few more days in the sun. I was not in any rush to rekindle my relationship with those six-foot snow banks! But my body and mind were in a state of hell, caused by extreme lack of sleep and most certainly a few wobbly pops during the cruise. One quick cure for me is a jog on the beach with a crucial thrashing playlist on my Nano, which only lasted for a few minutes until my legs said 'fuck you.' After hours making love to my pillow, I spent the next few days in Miami's lovely humid heat wandering around in search of good drinks, great food, while mesmerized staring at the waves crashing into South Beach and dreaming of next year's cruise!
For more metal cruising fun visit 70000tons.com
(All live photos by Håkon Grav; hot pool girl shot by Damien McTree!)