Barge To Hell: The World's Most Extreme Metal Cruise
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Jamie Harvey
As I boarded my red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Miami on Dec. 2, I was a little scared. I was en route to Barge To Hell where I would spend four days alone on a boat with some of the world's most extreme metal bands. What was I thinking? Well, concert cruises are quickly becoming the music trend du jour, and I wanted to see how they work. And taking a vacation with a slew of my favorite bands and their fans seemed like the perfect way to do it.
On Dec. 3, as we set sail for the Bahamas aboard "the world's most extreme metal cruise," I settled in for a one-of-a-kind live music experience: 40 bands performing two sets each across three different stages: the pool deck and two theaters.
Day one included sets by Exodus, Enslaved, one of my favorite progressive black metal bands, and Behemoth, who played what many of us seasoned fans agreed was one of their best sets of all time. I finished with a nightcap poolside performance by Sodom.
To prove how metal this cruise really was, on day two I found myself in line at the breakfast buffet next to Behemoth's Adam "Nergal" Darski before spending some time in the sun watching German death metalers Morgoth. Inside the small theater I watched a set by Brazilian band Seita. I quickly learned in this room that there was no need to headbang — I nearly got knocked over from the rocking of the boat. I also caught sets by Sacred Reich, Brujeria, Napalm Death, and Iceland's Sólstafir, whose atmospheric post-black metal was my favorite new discovery of the cruise.
With a fruity drink in a blinking glass in hand, I moved to the pool deck to watch one of the world's scariest bands: Mayhem. One of the weirdest experiences of my life was watching Mayhem perform "Deathcrush" while people were watching from a hot tub. (Either that or the rolling chair mosh pit that erupted during Municipal Waste's set.) At The Gates, a band I had never before seen live, were my most anticipated act to see and they did not disappoint. A late-night set from Sepultura garnered one of the most enthusiastic crowds and the band's new drummer, Eloy Casagrande, had everyone's jaws dropping. The night finally came to an end with Swedish death metal band Grave, a band I hadn't seen live before.
After docking in Nassau, Bahamas, for the day on Dec. 5, I was back on the boat by 5:45 p.m. to catch one of my favorites, Nachtmystium, a black metal band fronted by Blake Judd, who had just been flown in after initially missing the boat. For the remainder of the evening, I doubled up on repeat sets from my favorite bands seen earlier: Napalm Death, Grave, At The Gates, Mayhem, and Municipal Waste.
The final day was the longest and most chaotic, but was up for it. I started with last-minute cruise addition Dark Sermon, who stepped in to take over a slot left by last-minute cancellations. Next, I watched Novembers Doom while drinking coffee by the pool, followed by female-fronted German thrash metal act Holy Moses, a belly-flop contest judged by various band members and a set by Colombian ragers Headcrusher. Rotting Christ and Possessed were some of my surprise favorites of that day, but it was seeing Enslaved with the ocean in the background and the moon shining above that may mark my concert of the year. I finished my Barge To Hell experience watching Behemoth from behind the stage, which allowed me to see drummer Inferno's skills from an angle I'll probably never experience again, as well as Exodus playing in tuxedos. Nachtmystium performed a few more songs, and Brujeria closed the night.
As I exited the boat four days later, I left with a concert experience that I could never have dreamed up. So I guess you could say I survived Barge To Hell.
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)