Symphonic Black Metallers Septicflesh proved themselves on their day four performance in the Alhambra Theatre. The symphonic elements of their music were far more distinct this time around, along with the depth and complexity of the heavy side of the arrangements. This was particularly apparent with the crowd favourite Anubis. The response from the crowd certainly proved this set a success, and a happy relief to those disappointed with the previous ice rink set.

Dark Tranquillity followed in the Alhambra Theatre with a set incorporating more old school material, much to the pleasure of long-time fans. The pool deck set was hard to beat, but frontman Mikael Stanne kept up the energy just as hard, and had so much fun he could barely keep a straight face during even the darkest and most serious of songs – largely due to the many weird and wonderful costumes many cruise survivors traditionally wear on day four. With a set including classics like Lethe and fan favourites like The Mundane and the Magic and The Final Resistance, Dark Tranquillity fans would have been some of the happiest on the cruise.

Samael likewise went old school with their Ice Rink set, though they still played a few songs from the latest album ‘Hegemony’ which went down equally well. Again the distinctive Industrial beats of the band got the crowd moving and dancing, an unusual feat in Metal circles. The dire Gothic feel was perhaps best captured in the songs from Samael’s pivotal ‘Passage,’ always a welcome addition to any set.

Back in the Alhambra Theatre, the last thing Sabaton were going to do was repeat themselves. Playing an entirely different set, they received just as strong a response from the absolutely packed out theatre, and arguably they were the most-loved band on the entire cruise. Joachim Broden brought more banter to the stage this time, with the playful atmosphere resulting in a humorous brawl between band members that included Broden’s mic stand being stolen while he was tackled to the ground, and guitarist Tommy Johansson being subject to a nipple cripple in return. Broden also sang two songs in Swedish due to popular audience demand, though he insisted, “This isn’t a democracy. You couldn’t handle democracy, you wouldn’t know what to do with it!”

The cruise’s largest stage, the pool deck, was closed by none other than the mighty Kreator. Playing a similar set to their previous one but on a larger scale, the band nevertheless impressed when they kept playing even when the sound completely dropped out for a moment, ensuring no time was wasted when the PA kicked back in. It was also during Kreator’s set that the one and only Skipper, Andy Pilar, creator of 70,000 Tons of Metal, gave his closing speech. In an emotional moment, he revealed that a record 75 nations were represented at this year’s 70,000 Tons of Metal, including some who are at war with each other – but 3,000 Metalheads gathered in peace and celebration truly create a “United Nations of Metal.”

It wasn’t the end of the festivities however, as Alestorm finally closed the entire event in the Alhambra Theatre. Alestorm pulled out all the stops, sending their giant rubber duckie on its final voyage into the crowd – “This is why we can’t have nice things!” – having half the pit sit down on the floor and imitate rowing a large vessel for Nancy the Tavern Wench, and even performing Drink “for dogs,” that is with Chris Bowes barking rather than singing the lyrics. It was a glorious, and moreover uproariously funny way to finish the cruise, with the entire event wrapping up with crowd favourite Fucked with an Anchor.

It was a sombre moment the next morning when the assembled Metalheads had to disembark back in Miami and return to the real world, but also with a sense of intense satisfaction, excellent memories made (and more lost, as Bowes put it), and many new friendships across the globe. As the 70,000 Tons of Metal tradition goes, no doubt we will start to hear about next year’s event, January 31 – February 4, sailing to Haiti… SOON.

Stay tuned over the next few days as we publish our official interviews with the 70000 Tons Of Metal 2018 Lineup, including a very special and intimate conversation with Andy Piller – The creator of 70000 Tons of Metal.