GULF OF MEXICO — The 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise was barely a couple hours old, poised to get off to a rip-roaring start.
Thrash veterans Exodus had the honor of being the first of 42 bands to play 84 scheduled concerts over four days aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas.
Just one problem.
An hour after Exodus was to go on, the doors to the spacious Chorusline Theater still hadn’t opened.
The excursion’s critics back on land, wondering from the get-go how a cruise of this magnitude would fly, were about to have a field day. Because while the delay provided an opportunity for strangers representing 48 countries to meet and mingle, some among the sold-out throng of 2,038 pent-up passengers permeated the air with profanity-laced chants. Things were about to get ugly.
Finally, the doors opened. Exodus came to the rescue. And although photographers inexplicably weren’t allowed in the photo pit, forced to fend for position wherever they could find it among the crowd mere hours after a meeting to hand out wristbands that served as credentials, the “lesson in violence” had commenced. Fortunately, it was confined to the stage in the form of Exodus’ in-your-face performance.
Between their opening act and Exodus’ second show two nights later atop the main deck, singer Rob Dukes, guitarists Gary Holt and Lee Altus, bassist Jack Gibson and drummer Tom Hunting came and conquered. A mixture of old and new tunes, ranging from A Lesson in Violence (see video, left), Iconoclasm, Children of a Worthless God, Bonded by Blood and of course Toxic Waltz served notice that Exodus was the perfect choice to start the festivities.
It may shock the naysayers that other than the late start to Exodus’ set, the rest of the cruise proved to be smooth sailing in many respects.
While some bands were unable to attend the trek, others declined to take part. The latter included thrash outfit Kreator. Hunting revealed to the SAMME, while in line at the midnight buffet no less, that his German friends were unwilling to risk enduring — or enjoying — whatever the trip might entail. Having filled them in, Hunting declared, “They’re regretting it now after hearing how much fun we’re having.”
Hunting took fun to a whole ‘nother level when he wasn’t behind the kit. He displayed his vocal chops during festive karaoke evenings, sharing the mic with Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick and members of Death Angel on a variety of songs that included Abba’s “Dancing Queen,” “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang and “Get Down Tonight” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band.
Yes. Disco songs. Seriously. Hilarious.
Exodus was also the first band scheduled for the two days of meet-and-greets with fans. Holt was forced to go solo for about the first half-hour but smiled and posed for pictures all the way through. When his bandmates finally trickled in, he couldn’t resist letting out a, “Hey, look who decided to show up!” Later that evening, Holt, Altus and Death Angel singer Mark Osegueda joined the SAMME and others in the Schooner Bar for a “bonding” moment that lasted well past sunrise as the vessel arrived in Cozumel (see slideshow, top left).
Not your average concert setting or atmosphere, indeed. That’s what it made it 70,000 Tons of Metal.
No need to worry, Kreator and critics. You’ll likely get a second chance next year.
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