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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day Three

Two days of metal is a real treat, but with another two days of hard and heavy tunes to come, a little recharge of the batteries does no harm. So it was that on the morning of February 3rd, the Independence Of The Seas docked in Cockburn Town, in the Grand Turks and Caicos Islands, with fans, crew and musicians alike stretching their legs in this beautiful Caribbean setting. The heat is about what you'd expect and sun screen is a must (though being charted $25 for a bottle is a liberty,) the water is crystal clear and refreshing to the touch and the local staff are very welcoming, right down to having a DJ booth set up playing metal music, which was more than happy to take requests (I couldn't resist the urge to ask for Mezarkabul - "Bir.")

After a relaxing day at the beach, fans were asked to be back on the ship by half 4 that afternoon. Getting back on with enough time to get some dinner and a round of golf in on the pool deck, a bit of power metal was first on the agenda and so it was that I made my first trip to the Ice Rink to check out German act, Evertale. Like a number of groups I reported on yesterday, I'm unfamiliar with the majority of their work and this was more about checking out a new band for me. Evertale are solid, it's fair to say. Their brand of power metal isn't groundbreaking or new, but in a genre nostalgic for the fantasy themes more common in the 80s than today, that's not necessarily a requirement. They don't possess anything special when it comes to stage presence either, though againm there's nothing particularly wrong with it. Not much to say except that they're worth a go if you like this kind of thing, but those with little to no interest in power metal won't be especially impressed. More...

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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day Two

After a superb first day aboard the Independence Of The Seas, it was time for another long day of seeing and meeting some of the most revered bands in metal. There's worse ways of spending a long weekend I suppose...

A late night and jet lag meant sleeping in longer than expected and missing out on the first few bands, though I was up and fed in time to head to the pool deck for the first time and check out one of the greatest names in British death metal, Benediction. While some may onky recognise them as the group Barney Greenway fronted before joining Napalm Death, the Birmingham based bruisers have had a long career with some outstanding music under their belts and it's fair to say that a live setting is the best place to sample it. There's no frills and no pretentiousness about Benediction, they're working class English guys who play old school, thrash inspired death metal and they do it wonderfully. I imagine Benediction to thrive in a small venue, which makes an outdoor venue with thousands of potential crowd members something of a risk, as not all bands used to intimate stages can work on a bigger setting. I'm pleased to report however, that Benediction don't have this problem. Those in attendance were treated to a blistering performance, which no doubt won over those who are put off by the poor production of their earlier work and delighted fans and curious parties. A great way to kick off the day. More...

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70000 Tons Of Metal: Day One

Back when the first 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise set sail in 2011, metal fans around the globe looked on with enormous envy at the lucky few who were able to board the ship and witness a festival unlike any other. Seven years later, my own wish was granted as I arrived in Florida, ready to take to the seas with 61 bands, 3000 other metalheads (including Metal Underground founder, Deathbringer) and the crew on this magnificent vessel. This is the story of Metal Underground at 70000 Tons Of Metal 2018.

Boarding the ship was a relatively simple affair, impressive considering the magnitude of the journey, where travellers queued up to have their bags scanned, passports checked and sort out their currency for the trip, which is done on a special card. After this, punters are invited to have their photo taken in front of the 70000 Tons Of Metal backdrop, then take a seat and wait for their area to be called. As soon as one walks on to the ship, they're greeted enthusiastically by the pool girls, who welcome them with a copy of the official programme, which must be said, is wonderfully put together with information about everything from the bands to the ship's captain.

Making our way to our cabins, it immediately resonates what an inclusive trip this will be, as fans and band members walk together to their rooms, wherein I was able to speak briefly with Derrick Green, frontman of one of my all time favourite bands, Sepultura. After settling in, it's over to the decks for safety drills, which are conducted in English and German and where more metal royalty can be spotted (Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse was in the line next to mine, laughing, joking and taking pictures with fans.) Finally, at 17:15, the first bands take to the stage and metal fans begin the holiday of a lifetime. More...

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August Burns Red Leads Fort Lauderdale Revolution

It's always good to step out of your comfort zone. Whether it be trying new food, visiting another country, or in this case, checking out a different style of music than normal, it doesn't hurt to do something unfamiliar. On this occasion, I decided to make use of my last night in the United States to check out the Revolution venue in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and witness a show headlined by August Burns Red.

Having unfortunately arrived too late to catch Australian openers Ocean Grove, it was Birmingham, Alabama natives Erra who were first up for this reporter. Being unfamiliar with their catalogue, or indeed any of the catalogues on the bill, I can see only comment on the performances themselves. Erra are certainly one of the more interesting bands on the metalcore spectrum, possessing a progressive and slightly left field sound, most notably their open use of keyboards. The crowd reacted well from the beginning to end and many were well versed in their repotoir, with some songs receiving substantially bigger responses than others. All in all, a very good performance from a group with more to offer than many other bands in their field. More...

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Rage And Firewind Set Spain Ablaze

Having visited the Garaje Beat Club twice before to see Napalm Death and Ratos de Porao, it's safe to assume that this is one of the best small venues in the South East of Spain, if not Spain itself. It's compact but with room to move, the staff are friendly (even the bouncers!) and there's a great rock and roll vibe about the club. Perfect setting then, to host one of the most exciting tours of early 2018, as Rage and Firewind rolled into town on a metal mission.

Before the big names took place, the crowd were treated to two opening acts, the first of which, Arenia, was the only Spanish group on the bill. As is often the case for the opener, it was a sparse crowd which Arenia played for, but those in attendance were privy to something special. Their brand of power metal with a little symphonic taste is very impressive, as is the vocal talents of frontman Fran Santos, who was in fine form throughout. It's unfair to focus purely on the singer however, as every single member of the group performed with a tremendous passion and skill. If you're a fan of power metal, check out Arenia and their latest release, "El atardecer de los sueños" now because this quintet from Gijón are well on their way to becoming the top metal band from Spain. More...

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Napalm Death Shows No Mercy In Murcia

Life for a metal fan in the south east of Spain can be a little frustrating. Most bands that tour Europe tend to only perform in Madrid and Barcelona when they come through, with occasional shows in Seville and Bilbao from time to time. However, deep in the heart of Spain's holiday area, in the city of Murcia, lies the Garaje Beat Club, a small venue which has been able to bring in some respected and popular names such as Lacuna Coil, Ratos de Porao and G.B.H. Tonight, the godfathers of grindcore Napalm Death were in town to perform at the club and treat the Iberian Peninsula to a blistering show the likes of which only they can provide.

There were no less than three support bands in tow tonight, perhaps the best of which was Fostioner from the Spanish capital of Madrid. The quintet has so far released two records, the most recent of which was the four track, "Chandal Defenders," which was represented on the night by such songs as "Margaret Thrasher." My Spanish is far from perfect, so I was unable to understand much of the between song banter, but the few who had arrived early were laughing quite a lot. Fostioner displayed a great musicianship, influenced by death and grindcore as much as thrash, which makes for a solid metal sound. Plus, any group whose signature song is called, "Spaceship Bukkake" automatically wins. Great way to start the show. More...

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Steel Panther (11/24/17) Phoenix, Arizona

Should what happens at a Steel Panther show, stay at a Steel Panther show? Maybe the band should consider copping this from Las Vegas’ advertising firm because when you attend one of their shows, it turns into its own Sin City. The band is currently in the middle of its 2017 Girls in a Row Tour and if you’ve never seen them, I’ll let you in on a little secret, NOTHING is off-limits at a Steel Panther show. More...

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Fall of Summer Festival 2017 - Torcy, France

September 8th - Day One

Vive le Fall of Summer Festival 2017! My girlfriend and I arrived in Paris the day before the festival jet lagged and without a plan on how to get to the town of Torcy, the home of Fall of Summer Festival. So we did what any metalhead might do in this situation, we went to THE metal bar in town and for Paris, that bar is Le Black Dog. Located a stumble away from the Seine River and in the middle of a popular food and entertainment district, you wouldn’t even know it’s a metalhead sanctuary from the outside.

After sheepishly stepping inside, the bar was packed with plenty of other metalheads. Black metal was blaring over the sound system and I observed there was a solid beer selection and plenty of Fall of Summer posters and drink coasters strewn about. After attempting to ask the bartenders and then realizing there was somewhat of a language barrier going on, I said “fuck it.” I shoved four of the Fall of Summer cardboard beer coasters into my girlfriend’s purse and decided that we’d figure it out the next day.

The first day of the fest, we decided to call our cab driver that drove us from the airport to take us to Fall of Summer and after a 40 minute drive, we arrived in Torcy. After winding through a few country roads, the all familiar seas of tents became visible. Our driver asked us where he should go to drop us and I told him anywhere near the mass of black t-shirts…duh! After a relatively short wait in line with several dozen of anxious festival attendees (approximately 1 hour), we were inside of Fall of Summer. Our first mission was to get adult beverages and food and to accomplish that we had to purchase “tokens.” After securing enough tokens for a day, we were able to complete our mission and finally set out to see our first band of the day.

Necrowretch, a death metal band from France no less, played a tight and aggressive set under a cloud filled sky. The crowd was small, but it was obvious that people were still making their way into the fest while they played. In fact, it was evident that at some point, there was going to be rain in the forecast. We weren’t worried, we had ponchos!

After Necrowretch, we started exploring the festival grounds. What a better place to start our exploration other than the merch area. There were about a dozen or so vendors, plus a bar and a café to peruse through. In addition, and most importantly, there were umbrella covered standing areas to chill…err…I mean escape from the rain that would dominate most of Friday’s festivities. The second band of the day was the blackened jazz version of Shining. Also hailing from Norway, this version was a last minute replacement band when Saint Vitus unfortunately had to drop off the fest. Without a doubt, The Shining were one of the more eclectic bands of the entire fest, they poured on the saxophone around the same time the rain ramped up its performance.

As the rain continued to soak everyone to the bone, that didn’t stop us and the rest of the festival attendees from checking out Gaahl’s Wyrd. Performing a swath of material from Gorgoroth, God Seed and Trelldom, Gaahl commanded a ten song set that made everyone forget about the rain for the time being. At one point, and I apologize for not remembering which song it was, but he sang in French to which the hometown fans responded in earnest. Ending his set with “Prosperity and Beauty,” the ever so eloquent Gaahl saluted with a sincere “Merci beaucoup” before exiting the stage.

After being soaked to the bone, the weather unfortunately got the best of us on this first day of Fall of Summer. As we made our way towards the exits, we were able to watch a couple songs from Blasphemy’s set. Covered from head to toe in chains, spikes and black leather, Blasphemy blasted the crowd with sheer brutality. As a teenager, I remember purchasing their debut album on Wild Rags Records and I, like most that followed them back then, are probably surprised by their rise to becoming a cult legend among extreme metal purists. Well, that was it for day one of Fall of Summer, hopefully the next day would be drier. More...

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Psycho Las Vegas 2017

Psycho Las Vegas recently wrapped up its second edition in Sin City after moving away from its Californian roots in 2016. Psycho Las Vegas 1st edition was outstanding. The second? Well, I’m trying to find an adjective that tops outstanding… The whole experience of hosting some of the heaviest/hottest/weirdest/loudest bands in the storied Hard Rock Casino is practically a religious experience. My short anecdotes cannot and will not do it justice. You, the reader, will need to make the conscience decision to go next year to experience it for yourself. Or, if you’ve been already partaken, well, I’m sure you can vouch for me in addition to having your own stories to tell. Here’s a brief rundown of my four days.

Thursday: The first day of any festival is always the most dangerous when trying remember details. It’s the day you usually celebrate breaking away from your job/your significant other/your home/your life. It’s probably a statistical fact, the day you tend to overindulge in adult beverages.

By the time I arrived at the Pool Stage, Goya had already started. After a couple of minutes of nothing coming through the PA system, the Phoenix, AZ doom lords were off and fuzzing up the already buzzing crowd. Next up were Conan. I have to admit, I kept running into friends throughout the pool area and I was only was able to listen to them through breaks in conversations with said friends. I did catch the crowded pool stage’s reaction to their set and it the applause was loud after every song. So, I’m going to say they had a great set at this point. More...

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Graspop Metal Meeting 2017: Day Two

After one hell of an opening day and a second night of camping, those attending this year's edition of the Graspop Metal Meeting festival had by now settled into the routine and were ready for another day. Once again, the day promised a mix of legendary names, young blood and cult favourites (or perhaps in the case of one Norwegian act, that should be "kvlt" favourites.)

Following a delay and miscomunication, I was unfortunately unable to catch Axel Rudi Pell and so my second full day at Graspop opened with a trip to Main Stage 2, which was being graced by Devildriver. Though they're not the biggest metal band of recent memory, performing at ten past one in the afternoon was something of a surprise. This did not deter the group from playing with full force and intensity and getting so many rockers' Saturday off to a great start. Frontman Dez Fafara was able to interact very well with the crowd and the high energy the group displayed at the very least impressed those in the audience who are not fans of Devildriver and delighted those who came to see them intentionally. More...

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Graspop Metal Meeting 2017: Day One

The Graspop Metal Meeting festival in Belgium has become one of the biggest and most popular events on the European summer circuit. Seemingly every year they put together a fantastic line up, mixing the classics, the young blood and cult favourites to really give something for all head bangers. This year was no different, with such legends as Scorpions, Deep Purple and Blue Oyster Cult all booked, as well as plenty for the kids like Chelsea Smile and Architects. It all promised to be a hell of a weekend and indeed it was.

Though the festival doesn't begin it's "official" schedule until Friday, weekend campers arrive the day before and are met with plenty on offer, including a number of live bands and the Metal Cafe. Being too tired after travelling from England to Belgium, we were only able to catch one full performance, though we also caught the last ten minutes of Belgian stoner metal act, King Hiss, who would probably please fans of Mastodon but left little impact. This was followed by the very short journey to the Jupiler Stage, which housed most of the weekend's hardcore and deathcore groups to watch Dutch hardcore veterans, Born From Pain. The quintet are regarded as one of Europe's best hardcore groups and it's easy to see why, particularly in the live setting where their brand of positive energy spreads to the audience very quickly, making for a very enjoyable live set. More...

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Amorphis Enchants Audience At Tampa Bay

Finnish Metal kings, Amorphis (along with fellow countrymen, Swallow The Sun) visited one of Tampa Bay's premier music venues, The Orpheum, on April 18th. This was one of the final dates of their current North American tour and the band's first Tampa show in more than 12 years.

Everything about their killer set confirmed why they're considered one of the greatest European bands of the last two decades. The six-piece opened with the bombastic title track from their glorious new album, "Under The Red Cloud" (Nuclear Blast).  

After that, they delivered classic after classic, mixing old and new material from their vast discography. Among the cuts included were Prog-oriented epics "Into Hiding," "My Kantele," "Black Winter Day" and "Sampo" and the relatively straightforward-yet-anthemic hits "House Of Sleep," "Silver Bride" and "The Smoke," among many others. More...

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Dope/Combichrist Conquer Austin, Texas

April 3rd, 2017

The Blood, Lust Death Tour arrived at Grizzly Hall in Austin, Texas with one of the best industrial packages of the year. A reunited Dope took the stage with Combichrist, September Mourning and Davey Suicide supporting. While there were quite a few Combichrist fans supporting wearing the band’s t-shirts, the headliner certainly brought in the most people.

Before the tour bands got underway, though, there were some locals. Sine was the first local act I was able to catch at the early hour of 7 PM. Doors at Grizzly opened at 6, so the opener was without much of a crowd. They might have only played in front of 25 people, but Sine played like they were in front of a crowd in triple digits. Their front woman, Rona Rogueheart had a beautiful-yet-aggressive voice. The band played dark industrial music with a synthetic quality that was very danceable, thus they did their job and warmed up the venue for the headliners. More...

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Photo Recap: 70.000 Tons Of Metal, Day 3 And 4

The largest and longest-running sea travel of its kind this year headed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Labadee, Haiti and back, featuring 61 bands playing 123 live shows on 4 stages to fans from 74 different countries. For most fans on board it’s "the" annual metal highlight. Below you can see George's personal extensive photo-recap of the events, scenery, and shows of his favourite bands taking place on "The Independence Of The Seas" metal-battleship:

Day 3: Labadee - Overkill - Marduk

Day 4: Unleashed - DevilDriver - Annihilator - Arch Enemy

If you missed the recap of day 1 and 2 you can watch it HERE.

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Photo Recap: 70.000 Tons Of Metal, Day 1 And 2

Metalunderground.com writer and photographer Georg Wilfinger boarded The World’s Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise, 70.000 Tons of Metal, taking place February 2 through 6.

The largest and longest-running sea travel of its kind this year headed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Labadee, Haiti and back, featuring 61 bands playing 123 live shows on 4 stages to fans from 74 different countries. For most fans on board it’s "the" annual metal highlight. Below you can see George's personal extensive photo-recap of the events, scenery, and shows of his favourite bands taking place on "The Independence Of The Seas" metal-battleship:

Day 1: Cattle Decapitation - Death Angel - Testament

Day 2: Suffocation - Revocation - Dying Fetus - Anthrax

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A Legend In Manhattan "Accepts" No Substitutes

It’s was the fall of 1985 when Accept was introduced to me, only the second metal band to Twisted Sister that I was exposed to. “Metal Heart” was an album that captured me like no other, one that became so intertwined into what I declared “true metal” that I knew every single nuance of every single song. “Bound to Fail” became a bit of a theme song and “Teach Us to Survive” was one of the most daring songs of its time. Six months later a label company “rushed” “Russian Roulette” hit the streets and in as much as I read how disappointed the band was with it at the time of its release, it remains one of my favorite albums of all time, an underplayed, near forgotten masterpiece. I can expound upon what Accept has done to improve my life with such brilliant music, but suffice to say they have been in it for 31 of my 46 years and are ingrained in my very own “metal heart.” More...

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Leaves' Eyes Go Viking on Austin

Monday December 12, 2016-

While there are still a couple weeks left in 2016, this will be my last road report of the year. The show was a milestone in my career as it completes ten years of concert photos and reports. I will be putting these into a new series of books. The visual aspect, energy, epic music and melody was the perfect send off for this ten-year odyssey. Thanks to Come And Take It Productions for making this night and many more nights possible. Their switch from Dirty Dog to Grizzly hall was a better choice for concert attendees. More...

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Flotsam and Jetsam Thrashes Austin

Sunday December 4, 2016—

Veteran speedsters Helstar and Flotsam stopped in Austin, Texas for an old school metal throw down. New wave thrashers, Hatchet warmed up the crowd. Hair flew, fists pumped and even a mosh pit or two broke out. From pure speed to concrete grooves, from high pitch vocals to growls, the show was a lesson in true metal. More...

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Orphaned Land Unite All As One In London

In the modern world, metal music truly has become international. It's reached all four corners of the globe, touching music lovers for all manner of different reasons. Recently, a tour rolled into London which summed up the far reaching power of metal, featuring bands from Europe, Asia and South America and offering a wide variety of sounds and sights. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the show and witness the unifying power of a genre that has been dismissed far too many times as a negative influence.

Having unfortunately missed out on the opening act, Chilean progressive metal veterans Crisálida, I was able to catch Russian symphonic metal act, Imperial Age. Though I'd never heard of the group before, they were very striking in a number of ways. Firstly, the vocals, provided mostly by Anna "Kiara" Moiseeva but aided expertly by keyboardists Alexander "Aor" Osipov and Jane "Corn" Odintsova, are absolutely breath taking, showing off their classically trained voices in an awe inspiring way. The music which accompanies the singing is just as epic and grand in sound, while even the band's attire was memorable, with Osipov dressed in what could best be described as a general's uniform. For those who like symphonic metal, Imperial Age are a band one simply must check out. They could well be the next stars of the genre. More...

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Lordi Put On A Monster Show In Bristol

Lordi are a band that will usually generate a different reaction to everyone who hears their name. For some, they're keeping the spirit of old school heavy metal alive with their U.D.O. and glam influenced sound, along with their showmanship, while for others they're an imitation of other such previous bands as Gwar and then there are those in Europe who remember them solely for their Eurovision winning entry, "Hard Rock Hallelujah" back in 2006. Whatever the case, the prospect of seeing a Lordi show was a very intriguing one and something I was able to do when they stopped off in Bristol during their extensive tour of the United Kingdom.

Starting the show, and in some fashion, was Silver Dust, from the Swiss municipality of Porrentruy. The band make strong use of theatrics in their performances, using props such as video screens and realistic, if slightly funny looking, guns, while the majority of the group were clad in suits and top hats. It's steampunk influenced gothic rock at its most ludicrous and by extension, its most fun, with the audience made to feel very much part of the show throughout, blurring the line between a hard rock show and vaudeville. Their music may not be to everyone's liking, but Silver Dust do put on a performance to remember. More...

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