Barge To Hell Cruise Recap Part 4

For Part 1 of our recap go here.
For Part 2 of our recap go here.
For Part 3 of our recap go here.


Thursday, December 6th
By Adrien Begrand, Albert Mansour and Sean Palmerston

Overall the Barge to Hell experience was so much more different from 70,000 Tons. Because of its limited musical scope of “extreme metal”, it made for a considerably less festive atmosphere. Death metal and black metal around the clock, with little variety, dulls the senses, and you could really sense the fatigue among the audiences on days three and four. Conversely, the eclectic lineup of 70,000 Tons made for a very lively experience, a party atmosphere. Aside from a handful of bands, a lot of thematically miserable music was being played, and it’s hard to generate excitement when that’s all anyone is hearing. (Adrien)

After being impressed with their first set I made it out to check out the ending of their second set of the cruise, placed so inappropriately at 10 AM on the final cruise day. Ouch. Nevertheless, they did sound quite good over orange juice. (Sean)

A few hours of sleep, it was back out for breakfast before Solstafir’s second set of the cruise. Seeing a metal show at ten in the morning is always surreal for everyone involved, but give the band credit, they were in terrific form. Some songs lend themselves very well to an at sea setting, and “Fjara” – one of the most achingly beautiful metal songs to come out in the last few years – fit perfectly with the Atlantic Ocean waves rolling and crashing in the distance. (Adrien)

One of the cruise’s best moments came courtesy November’s Doom, who covered Woods of Ypres’ “White Leather” in tribute to their late friend David Gold. It was a highlight of a mighty impressive poolside set during rapidly changing weather, the noon sun roasting, the rolling clouds chilling. (Adrien)

HACKNEYED 1HACKNEYED Small stage indoors 12:15
The most impressive thing I can say about this set was that all members managed to headbang in unison. Great job headbanging guys! Adrien and I later saw them celebrating their set with burgers and shakes inside of the premium diner (where I had the most insane hamburger of my life). (Sean)

Hackneyed lived up to their name. And as long as they’re around, that joke will never get old. And the all-you-can-eat deal for $5 at Johnny Rockets is amazing. Sean and I practically waddled out of there after lunch. (Adrien)

HOLY MOSES 6HOLY MOSES Pool Deck Stage 1:00
Holy shit, Sabina Classen from Holy Moses kicks ass. I cannot believe the amazing shape this woman is in, both physically and vocally. Why do I not own any Holy Moses albums? Great set of late 80s inspired Euro thrash. (Sean)

Darcy was very impressed with Holy Moses as he snapped photos from the pit; that is, until a very high-strung Sabina spat water all over him. (Adrien)

Before this cruise the only time I had seen Rotting Christ was a fantastic set here in Hamilton, Ontario at Club Absinthe, a show that only had 12 people in attendance. Seeing them dominate in front of 500 devoted fans in the hot afternoon sun was special. Such an underrated and exceptional live band, I am very excited for their next album which is to be released soon. (Sean)

What sets Rotting Christ apart from all the other Barge to Hell bands isn’t just the outstanding music, but they have real charisma, and Sakis Tolis led the way with a commanding, engaging performance that was by far the liveliest of the afternoon. This was the set that really woke everyone up, and kicked into gear a very fun late afternoon and evening. (Adrien)

POSSESSED 5POSSESSED Pool deck stage 4:15
Possessed by the pool in the afternoon sun. Life rarely gets better than this. (Sean)

Possessed played their second set at a fantastic time, 4:15 poolside, and on a cruise rife with surreal moments, the Bay Area thrash greats played songs like “Swing of the Axe” and “Death Metal” while the sun set beautifully behind them. Jeff Becerra was one of the best frontmen on the entire cruise. (Adrien)

ENSLAVED 9 ENSLAVED Pool deck stage 6:15
Wow. Enslaved were simply the band of the cruise, hands down. This second set saw the Norwegian progsters reaching back into their blackened past again with some deep cuts, before ending their set with the first ever viking metal song, Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”. It was the perfect ending to their set, and it obviously pleased Odin too, as the sky was full of lightning strikes on both sides of the ship. Hammer of the gods! (Sean)

Enslaved were far and away the best band of the entire cruise, not only because their music is the best of the entire lot and they’re an outstanding live band, but also because they clearly put some thought into their two set lists. Unlike the huge majority of Barge bands who simply recycled the same set list for both shows, Enslaved know how to do it right, playing completely different material each time out. Opening with “Isa” at the pool stage, once again the band dug deep into their discography for several songs from their early days. Vertebrae‘s “Ground” sounded outstanding, new song and “Materal” went over very well, and the great “Return to Yggdrasil” was a fitting choice. Best of all, though, and the coolest moment if the entire cruise, was when the band closed with their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” only to be answered by spectacular flashes of lightning in the distance. (Adrien)

SOILWORK 6SOILWORK Pool deck stage 8:15
Again, I had hoped Soilwork would be more engaging, but I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise considering the inconsistency of their back catalogue. So I spent a few minutes watching the extremely talented Dirk Verbeuren do his thing on the drums, and moseyed over to the Spectrum Lounge. (Adrien)

HAVOK 5HAVOK Small stage indoors 8:15
Havok was one band I wished had better timing for me, but at the very least I was glad to catch the end of their second set. The lounge chair mosh pit, started during that raucous Municipal Waste show a couple nights earlier, was still going. Looks like a trend has started… (Adrien)

SEPULTURA 2SEPULTURA Large stage indoors 9:15
Count Sepultura as another band that knows how to properly play a cruise like this. After opening with “Arise” and a spectacular rendition of “Inner Self” they focused primarily on the Chaos A.D. album, with “Territory” and “Propaganda” going over huge in the raucous theatre. And again, drummer Eloy Casagrande is an absolute marvel, the best metal drummer I have seen in a very long time. He hits his kit so hard that when you watch from behind the stage, he drowns out the other instruments. (Adrien)

The European metal fans on this boat were just loving Sepultura. I was actually blown away with the respect and admiration shown to them. No wonder they tour so much in Europe these days! (Sean)

BEHEMOTH Pool deck stage 10:15
And good on Behemoth; although they played several of the same songs as the first set, their poolside performance still mixed things up, highlighted by early song “Moonspell Rites”, and capped off with a spirited cover of Turbonegro’s punk classic “I Got Erection”. (Adrien)

Sorry, I was watching Thursday night football on ESPN. Seriously. Denver won. (Sean)

SODOM 5SODOM Large stage indoors 11:30
I cannot get enough Sodom. I think Adrien’s had enough of them by now for a long time, but this was my 6th time seeing them in about as many year and, as always, it was great. Onkle Tom for president, or something like that. (Sean)

EXODUS 9EXODUS Pool deck stage 12:30 AM
After another workmanlike set by Sodom, this time at the theatre, it was off to the pool to see Exodus, or should we say Tuxodus, who strode onstage clad in rented tuxedos. After ten minutes of that hilarity I ran up to the Spectrum lounge to see Nachtmystium one more time. (Adrien)

Epic set by Exodus, who showed up on stage in tuxedos. They had a bunch of guests join them on stage and blew away everyone that stayed to watch them. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the cruise than by seeing these Bay area thrashers and that’s exactly what I did. There were more bands, but I fucked off to bed after Gary Holt and co. tore me a new asshole yet again. (Sean)

NACHTMYSTIUM 3NACHTMYSTIUM Small stage indoors 12:45 AM
The band’s gear was set up, the line check was done, but seeing the confused looks on the bands’ faces, it was clear Blake Judd was missing. The clock was ticking past 12:45, but no Judd. Cruise boss Andy Pillar showed up, looked like he was going to strangle Judd given the chance, and abruptly cancelled the set. Albert, who had hung around waiting for Zanthropya Ex to start (his dedication to photographing every band is astonishing), reported later that Judd did indeed show up in a serious state of inebriation, clumsily played three songs to avoid breach of contract, and called it quits. Classy.

EXODUS Pool stage (again, after the small stage fiasco)
Meanwhile I had gone back outside to see the rest of Exodus’s fun set, which featured a lot fo Bonded By Blood classics, including “Piranha” with Andreas Kisser of Sepultura and “Bonded By Blood” featuring Tompa Lindberg. Trust Exodus, the greatest metal cruise band ever, to conclude a memorable trip in friendly violent fashion. (Adrien)

And that’s it! Thanks to those that read through all of our reviews of the cruise. Adrien will have a recap of the 2013 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise later this month. See ya then!

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.