70000 TONS OF METAL – Day 3: Bimini’s Blue Water, 2nd Act For EVERGREY, KREATOR, AMORPHIS, & Others!
February 10, 2023, 10 months ago
A ship wide announcement goes out, that we've docked and people can disembark for a few hours on the picturesque Bahamian island of Bimini (just make sure you're onboard by 4 PM, when we get back underway). As mentioned in previous episodes, there are some (paid) water sport activities to engage in. Some take the free shuttle into town, to the over-priced casino/hotel complex. Others opt for an exclusive beach and some just swim/congregate on the free (yet still scenic) strip of white sand, close to the dock. Though it lacks amenities, there's still the crystal clear water (can see to the bottom, up to depths of 5 feet) and in all honesty, after a couple of hours (even with sunscreen) the unaccustomed, winter bodies are turning a different color.
By 5 PM, everyone (hopefully) aboard, showered and maybe having grabbed a bite to eat, the live entertainment resumes, in earnest. Well, almost. Seems the employment shortage hit 70k too. Why else would there be just one guy, checking ALL the instruments, individually, at 5:15, when the show was scheduled to start at 5? Technical issues sometimes arise, when there's a quick turn around, but there had been no bands on that stage in the last 12 hours. All the guys from Evergrey were there, left to stand and wait. As time grew later, it cut into fans' options, for what was taking place, elsewhere on the boat.
There was some carryover material, between the Swedes' two sets, although running order varied. Case in point, the sound of rushing water greeted "Save Us", flip flopped from the finale of the first night, to opener. "A Touch Of Blessing" is always welcome, but the big "surprise" was Floor Jansen (Nightwish) joining, for "In Orbit". She's married to ex-Evergrey/current Sabaton drummer Hannes van Dahl. So there's a familiarity. Sort of clears up why she left her current bandmates at the card table, yesterday, to leave (rehearse?) with Tom Englund.
Didn't stick around to see the entire show, as I'd given some friendly suggestions to the Vicious Rumors guys and wanted to see if they'd incorporate any of my ideas into their ballroom show. The addition of "Digital Dictator" and reintroduction of "Hellraiser", deleted the day before (due to time constraints), revitalized the impact, as did a slight reordering of the repeated tunes. "On The Edge" snaps the crowd to attention. No soft opening here! Backed with "Abandoned", forms a potent one-two punch. By "You Only Live Twice", guitarists Thorpe and DuGrey had switched sides of the stage.
In general, Geoff made more forays towards center stage than at the previous show. He was provided an additional backing vocal opportunity, on the aforementioned "Dictator". The singer jokes, "Most of you have been to the beach today, all sun stroke and stuff, but let me hear your voice!" During "Down To The Temple", Thorpe plants his foot atop the wedge monitor, center stage. They go directly into a red lit "Hellraiser", with a wicked vocal from Munroe. Great stuff and with the remaining trio ("Ship Of Fools", "World Church" and "Don't Wait For A Me", a reprise, albeit in reverse order of the first set, I push off, in search of some new photos.
I settle upon Belphagor, a band I've never seen before (despite their longevity), but know that corpse painted black metal is good for the camera lens. See the accompanying gallery. Had planned to see Uli Roth again, but word soon filtered through the ship that he was sick, unable to perform. Rumors ran wild. While there is a 70k app to keep you apprised of updates/changes to the schedule (it's different from the Royal Caribbean app, which tracks your bar tab and provides a free group chat feature), people still gossip. So with time to kill, the BraveWords team reconvenes on our stateroom balconies. Unlike the past few days, the ship was traveling at a good clip (we spent most of Tuesday anchored off the coast of Miami, clearly visible in the distance). Then a set of flashing lights, all the more noticeable in the darkness.
Right below our sixth floor viewpoint, an unfortunate soul was taken off the ship, on a stretcher, by a Miami Fire Patrol boat (basically a water EMT ambulance). Attention to detail, they even took the guy's packed suitcase. Rumor was he'd scored a bad batch of drugs, in Bimini. Later reports, from the skipper, said that he was stable. A little unnerved, we decide to take in Amorphis, whose initial go-round we missed, in favor of Melechesh’s incendiary (in more ways than one!) show, the night before. We'd met the Finns, elsewhere on the ship, early in the cruise and also hung in their dressing room at the Summer Breeze festival last August. So we definitely wanted to see/hear some of their music. Mainstay guitarist Esa Holopainen, still looking like a young Michael Schenker (despite joining the half century club, last birthday) makes it look so easy, seemingly never breaking a sweat. That's left to dynamic singer Tomi Joutsen, capable of singing the death growls of the earliest works, as well as the more moody/melodic output.
Hair flailing across his face, as he rocks back n forth at the mic stand, Joutsen is on fire throughout the set. After an opening "Northward", the red lit "Bad Blood" sees the longstanding guitar tandem paired together, stage left. Great to see old school "Into Hiding" (off the stellar Tales From The Thousand Lakes) still getting an airing. Blue lit (almost the same color scheme as the original artwork), the bearded frontman headbangs violently, at the start. Tomi Koivusaari (in the earliest days of the band, the original singer) still seems antsy, even with a guitar in front of him, unlike Holopainen who seemingly could maneuver within one square foot and still jam out.
The wildly progressive "Wrong Direction" leads to "The Moon”. The tinkling of ivories and sudden burst of gruff lyrics signals the classic "Black Winter Day" which also requires the singer (often leaning on the mic stand, hands partially obscuring his face) to climb into a higher register. Joutsen vacillates between growl and sweeter voice for the red/yellow, strobe accompanied "The Bee". Bouncy, almost cheery, compared to its surroundings, it precedes the "House Of Sleep" finale. To a second generation of fans (those not raised on the Relapse catalog), that track is their most prominent hit.
Outside, Mille and Kreator are preparing a second set, one focusing on the time period since Violent Revolution. As if to drive home the point, said title cut kick starts the evening. Petrozza is like a sea captain, at the helm, commandeering center stage, fighting the whipping wind, as he barks out the lyrics. All that's missing is an old school wheel/tiller. A brutal pair, off the most recent release, came next: the titular "Hate Uber Alles" and "Satan Is Real". Occasionally, as with "Hordes Of Chaos", Mille moves from his spot, venturing to the wings, or playing off Sami Yli-Sirniö (guitar) or newest recruit, bassist Frédéric Leclercq (ex-Dragonforce). Speaking of hordes, always felt that the groove of "Hail To The Hordes" was their attempt at a "hit" song, sort of like Amon Amarth's "Raise Your Horns", a rallying cry for the not-so-familiar Kreator fan/concert attendee.
"Coma Of Souls" was one old school chestnut missing from the initial go round. A must to include it here, followed by "Enemy Of God" (my favorite post-reunion disc, and one that should have greater representation in future setlists). On the deck, theatrical smoke/fog blows opposite the direction it was intended. Not sure why, and never experienced on the many cruises we've participated in, previously, but there were Royal Carib staff walking around, with trays of hors d'oeuvres (like a wedding reception, or something): Mozzarella sticks, hotdog roll-ups, assorted other high calories nibbles. Some of the employees were getting in the spirit, beating their serving utensils in time to the music!
"Phantom Antichrist" gives way to "Strongest Of The Strong", all but drummer Ventor standing three abreast, at the front of the stage. "Flag Of Hate" sees Mille unfurl the requisite prop. He tries to get a contest going, between the balcony, those in the whirlpool (situated directly in front of the stage, there's also one, behind Plexi-glass, stage left) and the floor. Asked to scream "Now it's time to raise the flag of hate," when the effort doesn't meet his expectations, he throws in the towel (figuratively, not literally) and simply demands a circle pit, around the deck. By the "Pleasure To Kill" finale (complete with synchronized stage moves betwwen the guitars and bass), Petrozza was still calling for a Wall of Death. Never give up. Never give in... a mantra that's held Kreator in such high regard, for decades.
And with that, our musical night was over. Still some hob-knobbing in the casino lounge (the only place onboard where folks can legally smoke: hence the omnipresent haze). That area was less populated than in the past. Typically crowded with gamblers and revelers, well into the late night, barely able to pass without bumping into another patron, the gaming tables were nearly empty and there was even space at the bar/rail. A rarity.
Hard to believe, there's only one day left!
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