Continuing on with our five day cruise on the Barge To Hell here is our round up of what we saw on Day 3…
FESTIVAL DAY THREE – Wednesday, December 5th
By Adrien Begrand, Albert Mansour and Sean Palmerston
Day three was destination day: when we woke up the boat was already docked at our trip’s one-and-only stop, the city of Nassau in the Bahamas. All of us were up early for the day, waiting to find out what awaited us when we hit land. Adrien’s brother Darcy was first to go: he was up and off the boat before the rest of us even showered, but soon enough we caught up with him and made our way around the waterfront of this interesting city.
I was quite surprised to find out that most of the banks in Nassau were Canadian based – Scotiabank and CIBC both had branches right in the downtown area. We looked up and down the street for souvenirs and clothing and found for the most part it was quite expensive. I was really hoping to get the chance to go to the Pirates of Nassau museum, as my two young sons are very into pirates, and I was delighted when everyone else agreed to it. The tour through the museum was well worth the $12 admission, and it was very neat to learn that the exhibits had actually been built by a Canadian company out of Vancouver.
After stopping in a local watering hole and trying the native delicacy of Conch Fritters (which really didn’t have a fishy taste at all, I am happy to report) we got a cab up to the highest point in the immediate area, Fort Fincastle, where we got a great view of the harbour and across the bay to Paradise Island. This also gave us the chance to walk down the Queen’s Stairs, which is made of 65 steps carved out of limestone by slaves in the late 18th century for Queen Victoria.
When we had finished with the touristy stuff we headed over to Paradise Island to hang out on the beach for a few hours. This was a pretty amazing thing for me, someone whose only other ocean experiences have been walking in South Beach twice and freezing in ice cold waters on a Newfoundland beach as a little boy (with an iceberg nearby, nonetheless!). Apart from the gigantic Atlantis resort – out of our league price-wise – Paradise Island has a large, gorgeous beach that goes on and on for miles. I was really blown away by the magnificence of this beach, which was loaded with vacationers and more than your fair share of BTH metalheads looking for a little surf and sun. It’s pretty awesome to be able to walk in the surf and see dudes from Municipal Waste, Sodom, Enslaved and Mayhem out swimming in the ocean. The site of Attila Chisar out enjoying the water was quite a counterpoint from watching him the night before covered in corpsepaint and pig’s blood. You really had to be there!(Sean)
Nassau’s an interesting city. Quaint, a little pricey, but the conch was great, the people were friendly, Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase was a really cool bit of history and scenery, and the beach at Paradise Island was jaw-dropping. The other guys had a blast at the beach, but not being a beach guy at all I was perfectly content at the beach bar having the most incredible, not to mention potent Goombay Smashes. It was a great day. (Adrien)
The curfew to be back on the boat was 5:00 and the music resumed shortly afterwards with…
NACHTMYSTIUM, Small stage indoors, 5:45
With leader Blake Judd finally on board the ship – he boarded in Nassau after not making it to Miami in time – the Chicago black metal outfit only had three members total but went ahead and made the best with what they had. With Judd obviously raring to go the trio ripped through a set of raw, primitive blackened tunes that sounded more like their earlier releases than their last few have. It was enjoyable and I was glad to see them onboard, even if they were not with a complete line up. A for effort for this set, lads. (Sean)
“I’ve been up for 27 hours trying to get here,” said Blake Judd as Nachtmystium played their long-awaited first show. The Chicago band was set to play the day before, but a passport snafu left Judd stranded in the States. Thankfully he was able to make the trip out to Nassau and join the cruise from there, and he and the band, which was reduced a trio for this cruise, played a stripped down set of their blackest compositions. It bode well for the next night’s show, which would turn out to be, erm, interesting to say the least. (Adrien)
MONSTROSITY, Pool deck stage, 6:30
Never been a fan of this Florida band. They play adequate enough death metal, as was clearly the case when I walked by their set on my way to grab dinner, but it didn’t do enough to get me to slow down and stop. Decent sized crowd though. Here’s a photo from Mr. Mansour. (Sean)
MORGOTH, Small stage indoors, 7:15
I just poked my head in for a few songs to see that they were doing their old school German death metal thing with style. I think I got enough of them during their breakfast set however, so I was soon on my way again. (Sean)
NAPALM DEATH, Pool deck stage, 8:00
Napalm Death. On a boat. Being cheered on by people in hot tubs. Apart from a few repeat songs from their first set, how could I possibly complain? Bless Barney Greenway, he was one of the nicest musicians on the cruise.(Sean)
GRAVE, Small stage indoors, 9:00
My biggest dilemma of Wednesday was deciding what to go see at 9 PM. I am a fan of both Grave and Paradise Lost, who were playing directly below in the Chorus Line Theater at the same time, so I had to choose what to do. In the end, I decided to watch the first thirty minutes of Grave’s forty-five minute set, before heading downstairs. It was nicely packed for the veteran Swedish death metal crew, a quartet in their current incarnation who released an excellent new album Endless Procession of Souls earlier this year. The band showcased a number of songs off the new album next to classic tracks from their first few albums.
The sound wasn’t excellent for the band, truth be told, with the guitars not quite loud enough in the mix and the drums a bit muffled, but Grave’s bass sound was one of the filthiest of the entire week and it really stands out in my mind. Glad to see them here, they have always been a great live band even if the sound was not particularly up to par.(Sean)
After missing Grave’s first performance because they were on far too late Monday night (it technically too early Tuesday morning), it was back to the Spectrum lounge to hear some classic Swedish death metal. And that was exactly what the full room got, crushing yet groovy tunes that, no matter from which album, never wavered from that formula that has always made Grave so likeable. A very fun 45 minutes. (Adrien)
PARADISE LOST, Main stage indoors, 9:00
I actually didn’t make it right until 9:30 before I headed downstairs to see Paradise Lost. As you may or may not remember, I was disappointed with their sound outdoors at the pool stage on their first Barge performance, but as Adrien pointed out PL is a band that depends on some extra tracks to pull things off live. We were hoping they’d be more successful second time around and our hopes were met.
Although vocalist Nick Holmes was being a little bit cranky with the audience complaining about the amount of photos being shot (“how many bloody pictures can you take of us anyway”) the band seemed much more comfortable – as well as much larger – on the inside stage. All the members seemed into it, and with nuggets like Draconian Times’ “The Last Time” as well as tracks from Shades of God and Gothic making their set list this ended up being the Paradise Lost set I was hoping for all along. It was good enough that I went and bought a shirt to commemorate finally seeing them play live. (Sean)
Paradise Lost redeemed themselves with their second set. The theatre was the perfect setting, and the band was spot-on, sounding terrific. Though after that very long day I was starting to drift off in those comfy seats. Those seats are deadly. (Adrien)
AT THE GATES, Main stage indoors, 11:00
At the Gates’ second show was at the theatre, and there was a distinct sense of déjà vu as pretty much the same set list from the previous night was carted out. What seemed special on Tuesday by the pool felt predictable 24 hours later. Weirdly, those twin guitar harmonies, which are so crucial to the great appeal of this band, were buried under the thudding of the prominently mixed drums, something particularly evident during the faster songs. (Adrien)
MAYHEM, Main stage indoors, 1:15 AM
Playing by the pool might have been a novelty, but Mayhem were more in their element in the theatre, where they could pump out the smoke, use the fancy lighting rig, and create an atmosphere that befits their music. Musically it was a superior set too, feeling a little more dynamic than the previous night, a visual assault that accentuated the maelstrom being churned out onstage. Oddly, though, between songs Attila didn’t growl about his fun day at the beach.
It was around this time where the energy in all the venues just dissipated. Everyone was tired, and the constant barrage of extreme music deadened the senses. There was no ariety, no band to lighten the mood, and even though Mayhem played a great set, there was zero response from the crowd. When their show ended no one cheered, they just tiredly headed out to catch the next band. (Adrien)
MUNICIPAL WASTE, Pool deck stage, 2:15 AM
As expected Municipal Waste didn’t disappoint, as a profoundly wasted Tony Foresta – who said he’d vomited five times that day and had earlier challenged Darcy to a wrestling match at the beach – led the band through a set that was a near duplicate of the previous night’s. There were some surprises, like the band’s bombarding of the two a.m. crowd with frisbees and a cover of S.O.D.’s “United Forces” with Tomas Lindberg from At the Gates and Rob Dukes of Exodus. After that set, at the end of a very long day, it was time to turn in. (Adrien)
I was so bagged that I left At the Gates to go for a rest. I set my phone for 2:00, so that I could make it up for the Waste’s set, but literally got up to the pool deck to only see their last song. Fuck! After screwing up so large I just went back to the cabin and called it a night for real this time. (Sean)
I’m sure it was only Albert and maybe a few people passed out. (Adrien)