As promiseed we bring you the review of BARGE TO HELL, undoubtly the most extreme cruise the world has ever know, all thanks to our friend Remi of PRC Music. Just a little insight on Remi, he is a 43 yrs old Metal fan from QC, Canada and runs PRC MUSIC (Negativa, Beyond Creation, Stalwart, Gorelust etc) and he was generous enough to send us some exclusive photos and video of this extreme event.
Here’s how it went (written as a fan and not a journalist):
TEXT – Remi Cote CORRECTIONS – Jacinte Pearsons PHOTOS & VIDEOS – Jean-Philippe Beaulieu
Can’t actually say how and why but we finally managed to survive this trip and made it back home safe… Why “Survive” you may ask? There were no tsunamis or plane crashes or titanic-like catastrophes… But how can you think going to such an event with some of the best bands on earth, surrounded by friends, bars and drunken metal heads, and not get into the mood and shit faced? This is actually the best fucking festival I had the chance to experience, and for numerous reasons, and I am already getting anxious for BARGE TO HELL 2… I will be there, and you should too. Hell, we should go together.
We flew (me and 6 my buddies) from Montreal and we could tell it was going to be a fun week because we were already (quietly) causing mayhem and laughing our butts off at the airport while checking in… the party was on, at 4:30 AM. After various body searches on myself and metal bro Eric by the very cool and chatty guy at the boarders (let’s call him Dick), we finally all boarded the plane… direction NY and then Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We flew out on December 1st in order to enjoy the sun, beaches and buckets of beers before the cruise… mission accomplished. We all had our proud moments.
We were all pretty anxious on D-DAY, December 3rd, and woke up early for a quick continental breakfast (meaning muffins and cereals) and shower to finally leave for the port of Miami…
We arrived there with a private shuttle. We saw black shirt and tattoos all over the place, Shane from NAPALM DEATH with his bass and luggage, the dudes from KRISIUN getting in line, the guys from ENSLAVED taking pictures with fans… we knew we were finally home… Home sweet home.
After checking in and finding our rooms, it was time to run around the boat and meet some cool people… EXODUS was scheduled to start the hostilities at the Chorus Line Theater. This is a cool club, actually my favourite place on the boat to watch a show, very comfy seats, the sound was always great and you have a perfect view of the stage where ever you may want to sit.
It was unfortunately impossible to see every show, as some bands were playing while others were already on stage but on the first day I saw EXODUS (solid as usual), SOILWORK (Dirk is god and yeah, Speed was impressive), a bit of HOLY MOSES, I literally was blown away into very small pieces by ENSLAVED (incredible show!), SODOM killed everything on the pool deck… but nothing could actually prepare us for the unreal, incredible awesome first concert of the festival from my favourite band from Poland BEHEMOTH! I saw them numerous time and I swear on my wife’s head that I never saw them like that… evil was fucking dripping from the walls around us… it was incredible, magical. BEHEMOTH is way above everybody else as far as stage presence and precision… this show actually killed me several times in the process and since I slept a mere 5 hours in the 48 hours before, I decided it was time to hit the bunk bed for the night. I went in the room with a smile on my face.
Day 2 (December 4th) started at 10 with ARTILLERY… which I missed as we were already in line waiting for the merch store to open… yeah, I’m a 43 years old kid and I need my goodies. Unfortunately for me, it was a hard fucking task to find XXL size shirts… No BEHEMOTH dammit. No GRAVE. No ENSLAVED… Still got a kick ass POSSESSED shirt, a cool MONSTROSITY shirt, the barge to hell shirt and baseball cap… life goes on. Went back to the pool stage in time to catch MORGOTH and they were fucking amazing… loved their set. Afterwards I got my ass kicked by LOUDBLAST, a pleasant surprise as far as I’m concerned as I didn’t hear anything new from the band since forever. Then SACRED REICH killed everything. It was fun to actually enjoy the band in the pool with the guys from MUNICIPAL WASTE… They had as much fun as we did for sure, SACRED REICH killed it, it was great seeing them live again after almost 20 years in my case! I went to the Spectrum Lounge to see NECRONOMICON (the Canadian one!) which I usually enjoy, I saw them live a lot and they deserve their new success in my opinion… but playing on this stage didn’t give them much of a chance. The sound was bad and we couldn’t see much of them on stage because first, they had quite a lot of people showing up which is cool, but there was also a barrier in front of the stage, which made things a bit weird and difficult to fully enjoy the band’s presence… please take that fence off next year, it’s annoying and absolutely not necessary. Next we had the chance to see BRUJERIA in action, which didn’t do much for me I’m afraid. The next gig was some sort of trip back to school for me, seeing CORROSION OF CONFORMITY in full force with their original line-up, like I did in the mid 80’s in a crappy bar in Montreal, was pure bliss… they were amazing. Pure gold for an old creep like me. Still on the COC buzz, we ran to the Chorus Line to see NAPALM DEATH… I saw them numerous times, again and again, I love them to death but this concert was beyond fucking sick… I never saw Barny so fucking intense before. The set list was amazing; they played material from all their classics. Incredible gig! We skipped MAYHEM and went to grab a bite, we came back just in time for SANCTUARY. They were great, as if the band actually never stopped for 2 decades or so… can’t wait for the new album. Next, AT THE GATES were playing the pool deck. The set list was cool. MOONSPELL went on stage next at the chorus line and did a killer set too… from what I heard, the singer as a weird effect on the ladies… I took a peek at the MUNICIPAL WASTE show at the Lounge; we could barely see the singer on stage as they were too many people enjoying a solid fucking gig in front of him. I can’t understand why this band was not playing the bigger room… SEPULTURA was next on the pool deck. They played some amazing songs but I don’t know… I am not a fan anymore. It was like seeing a good cover band. Those who had the chance to see SEPULTURA with the (almost) original line-up will understand what I mean. POSSESSED were scheduled to destroy the chorus line and they did… I saw them in the mid 80’s and they were good. Fast forward 20 something years later, they were amazing… Everything they played on stage was obviously a classic. It is cool to see Jeff Bercera on stage again. This was my last concert for day 2. I was barely standing on my feet.
Day 3 (December 5) was our day off within our vacation… we left the boat for Nassau. Went to the closest Starbuck for Wi-Fi and a well-deserved coffee. We took a cab, died about 25 times on our way to the beach… barely alive; we went and find ourselves a nice spot to hang out. The weather was amazing, we had a blast. I am used to travelling in the south, I go at least once or twice a year, and I can’t say I would recommend Nassau… it is ridiculously expensive and you get the same treatment as if you were to go to a Mexican resort, weather and beach-like. And Mexico is much cheaper. Our taxi driver told us Michael Jackson stayed on Paradise island and paid 25.000$ a night to stay there… I told him Uncle Tom was staying on our boat for free.
Back on the boat, with most of my orifices filled with white sand, I ran to catch my new buddy Andrew’s band on the pool deck: MONSTROSITY! I am ashamed to say I never had the chance to see them live and it was one of my priority on da boat to hell… disappointed I was not! Solid from start to finish, crushing in every possible ways. They are amazing musicians (you too Andrew! There you go, I said it!) and they should be a much bigger band in my opinion. If you have the chance to see them live, just go! I managed to catch a few songs from MORGOTH on the small stage at the Spectrum Lounge and they were killing it again… went for a quick shower and came back to see GRAVE, again, at the spectrum. Killer set and it was sounding great this time… this band is just fucking awesome, the new album is great and I needed to see them on the boat. GRAVE is god… they made me a happy sailor that night for sure. I also caught PARADISE LOST at the Chorus Line… I have been a fan of this band for ever, saw them live a few times and I was not going to miss the opportunity to see them live again… I also got myself a nice shirt the day before, so I am thrilled and anxious to see them. I am sorry to say that this is my disappointment of the cruise… I will not go into details as I am not into slagging bands off… but this was not up to par if you catch my drift. Totally disappointed. I will keep the shirt and keep listening to the albums. I felt fortunate to see SANCTUARY again, they played another new song and again, I just can’t wait to get that new album, it is going to be great for sure. I went on to catch a few songs from BOUNDED BY BLOOD and they were great. I couple of drinks later I went to my bunk, once again very happy to be there.
Day 4 (December 6) was going to be brutal… and it started with a bang with SOLSTAFIR. They were the right band to start this great day. You do not want to see KRISIUN at 10 in the morning (Well, I do, but not everybody!) and did they woke us up in a great way! I love the new album and they are very cool to see live… The stage look like a natural thing for them (looks easier for them than riding a Jet Ski! LOL! Sorry I will not go into details on this!) and they were the perfect band to enjoy with a glass of milk and a glazed donut beside the pool on a beach chair. I am a SOLSTAFIR fan more than ever. Went on to see DARK SERMON at the spectrum and I must say they were great! Not really my style (modern Death Metal mixed with Deathcore) but they have a killer stage presence, very intense. Pretty cool, I suggest you guys to investigate them a bit further. I ran to the pool deck to make sure not to miss a second of one of my favourite bands… the godly NOVEMBER’S DOOM! Paul is god… the guy sings like a fucking master! Solid is not even getting close to describe this band’s amazing live performance. I have all their albums, and I know their songs by heart, this band was one of the highlights on my trip to the Barge to hell… so heavy, so dark! They also played a great cover of WOODS OF YPRES… fucking magical moments. I wish they could play another 2 hours. AMAZING! I will do everything I can to see them live again. After this show, I managed to catch HACKNEYED which I thought were pretty cool if not necessarily my thing. I caught a few songs from HOLY MOSES, they had a lot of fans on that cruise but I am not really into their music. Still, they are good musicians and we could see and feel they were enjoying the whole thing as much as their fans in front of them. Kudos for this alone! We went to JOHNNY ROCKET for a quick burger (man, this burger joint is just great!) and came back to see HEADCRUSHER at the Spectrum. This band did kick my ass fair and square… Great band, great presence, musically similar to AT THE GATES mixed with some good old SEPULTURA… very intense. Check them out! At 2H30 I went back to the pool side to catch ROTTING CHRIST. They did well and they were well received by the crowd. The Greek’s discography is a hit and missed as far as I’m concerned but I must admit they really put on a great show, I am happy they were there and they deserved their spot on the cruise. I was curious to see VITAL REMAINS live, and since I never really was a big fan of their music, I will admit I was not expecting much and I was surprised they were actually playing the chorus line. Well, I never felt so dumb in my life… how the hell did I miss this freaking tornado for so many years? Shame on me! This was an unbelievable concert from A to freaking Z… The singer is redefining the term frontman in my humble opinion… fucking intense dude, he is a show on his own. It was a great (dark and evil!) moment of the cruise for me… I just ordered the last 2 albums a few minutes ago to make amends. AWSOME fucking band!!! I couldn’t live with the idea of not seeing POSSESSED live again and so I went to the pool deck to see if they could top their first show… They did more than that, it was even better! Fucking impressive… Please tell me the fuck why they are not signed on a label and kicking ass around the world right now? Holy fuck, for the sake of the metal scene, we need another POSSESSED album pronto! Totally exhausted (in a good way) by what I just saw, I decided to go back and check on KRISIUN… I knew what to expect and I was not surprised to see them slaying on stage… super tight, great sound, great songs by great people. For some reasons they always come out better live than on disc for me… it was a great show. I went to see ENSLAVED, and they did great, again… fucking impressive band. Went to the spectrum to see LOCK UP, too many people, couldn’t see anything and the sound was horrible… that bar sucks. I hate myself for not being able to see them at the Chorus Line, but hey, it’s impossible to be everywhere at the same time. I managed to catch HAVOK for a few songs after a nice supper and a couple of beers. At this time, I was exhausted, spent the entire day watching bands and I needed a break. So I went to my room for a quick shower and came back for what was going to be my last show of the festival… the second concert from BEHEMOTH at the pool deck. They were nothing less than fantastic once again. What a cool way to finish an amazing week of extreme metal. More bands were playing later on but we saw them all or were just too tired to see more. Plus, we had to leave early the day after… We all pretty much went to bed with the conviction that we accomplished our mission.
To sums up such an event in a few lines is pretty much impossible. I am happy with what I got for the money I have paid for. Few things are not working as far as I am concerned… First, to give the chance to unknown bands to be part of such a festival is a great idea… but to have them play at 4H30 in the morning is nonsense… It is ridiculous. I wanted to see KAMPFAR at the pool deck but at quarter to 4 in the morning? Who wanted to see ABIOTIC at 4:30? The spectrum Lounge is not the best option but since you have to work with it, I suggest you take off the damned fence in front of the stage… and maybe the bands should play on the floor in front of the stage, they would have more room and we could see them seated without any problems… I know the logistic for such a festival must be a pain in the ass to deal with and overall it went well, delays are inevitable in such an event but I know a few guys that were royally pissed off waiting for an extra 2-3 hours for the merch store to open… I mean, we were all on board when the ship departed, so why not putting the merch store together the day before opening the store? Just a thought… The restaurants and buffet are just great. You are tired and want to fuck off into your room? You will sleep well, no worries! The staff is great, polite, and helpful in any possible ways. Checking in was bliss and checking out was even easier… I just loved the experience and I already decided to go next year. So if you wish to get in touch with me for next year or if you were there this year and want to chat, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org Let’s talk metal… and see you all next year!
For more PHOTOS OF THE EVENT CLICK HERE.
For more VIDEOS OF THE EVENT CLICK HERE.