I begin this piece during a spat of winter weather here in the Bluegrass; snow on the ground, temps in the teens, 1 snow day on the books. As you might imagine I am already yearning for a warmer climate. Along with said yearning grows an anticipation of volcanic magnitude. For in 5 unbearable months I will embark on, for me, a maiden voyage of Rock n' Roll destiny: The 2015 Monsters Of Rock Cruise! 4 days, 30+ bands, a luxury vessel, The Caribbean, and a few thousand like-minded rock fans ready to raise a fist and drink in the air!!! It's like heaven on a ship. And I am a total rookie. A complete greenhorn. This will be my first cruise so the fact that its a Monsters Of Rock Cruise simply kicks major ass.
As you can see from the graphic above, 2015 has a stellar lineup in store. But I have to admit, at first I wasn't totally on board. (pun intended) Several of these bands have been off my radar for quite a while so I had to sort of circle back around and look at it from a different standpoint; a bucketlist standpoint. If you're like me you've seen the Tesla's and the Queensryche's and the Stryper's several times and do look forward to checking them out on the ship, but at the same time, there are several of these bands that I haven't seen. Queue the bucketlist. Here are the top 5 bands on the list. Lets start from the bottom of the list and work our way up.
2. Leatherwolf - Leatherwolf emerged from the Orange County scene in the very early 80's alongside Slayer and Metallica and were known for their Triple Axe Attack configuration of, as you might guess, 3 guitarists in the band. The band endured a number of lineup changes and style changes throughout the 80's releasing 1 EP and 2 full length albums before disappearing around 1991. They would, however, reemerge in 1999 with a successful reunion concert that would be released as a live album. Since then they have released 2 more studio albums in 2006 and 2007 as well as another live album in 2013. I must admit I am a bit new to the Leatherwolf party, but when I saw them scheduled to perform on the cruise I was thoroughly intrigued and have begun getting into their discography. They are, without a doubt, worth a listen! I enjoy their early work, which is kind of a sun-kissed nod to the NWOBHM, while their newer music is more straight ahead metal.
HERE and part two HERE!!
That's right The Meister is back!! Having been on every voyage of the Monsters of Rock Cruise so far I'm again boarding for the 2015 adventure. This year Decibel Geek staff writer Derik Novak will be joining other Decibel Geek staff writer Kate Campbell (her second excursion), staff photographer Brian Ronald (his fourth, like myself) and The Meister on board the MSC Divina as she sets sail April 18-22 fully loaded with long-haired, tattooed, rowdy, rockers for the greatest floating heavy metal event! This guy has no idea just what he's in for (insert "muah ha ha" dastardly laugh here), definitely the time of his life coming up! Derik has identified his top 5 must see bands and made some fine choices here. I thought I'd share my top 5 as well as there are some differences.
#5 - Rhino Bucket/Keel/Y&T/Black n Blue:
Rhino Bucket are a straight up no frills rock band that absolutely rip in concert and I've not yet missed one of their MORC shows during their appearances in 2012 and 2013. With KIX's Brian Forsythe on guitar and Georg Dolivo's distinctive voice, they'll be rockin' the boat.
Keel provided to me one of the best experiences of my life in 2013 as I was invited to be a part of their pre-cruise rehearsal. I absolutely cannot say enough about the band members personally and their ability to deliver a high quality rock show! The Keel logo appears in my full sleeve tattoo as well.
Another logo that appears in my tattoo, I've caught Y&T in Toronto and at Sweden Rock 2014 as well as their three previous cruise appearances. I think that Dave Meniketti and Y&T deserve to be given the coveted sail away concert this year.
Black 'n Blue was a band that made me a rabid fan through their live show on MORC 2012. Since then I've checked them out in 2013 and also at Firefest Festival in Nottingham UK. Jamie St. James voice still holds strong, do not miss these guys!
#4 - Heavens Edge:
I saw these guys at 2014's M3 festival as they opened the side stage on the Saturday of that event. I was shocked at how good they were and just how much Reggie Wu is an awesome guitarist and from reports that I have heard "he played the shit out of every other guitarist" at Firefest 2013. I have since gone back and revisited their debut album and it has been a constant on my Mp3 player. A total crime that these guys were not bigger back in the day, but rest assured they will be vieing for top 5 performance of the cruise position!
#3 - Babylon A.D.:
I literally just saw these guys at Firefest: The Final Fling in Nottingham UK in October 2014. I had been listening to their first two releases since high school, playing both often and loudly! I was a little apprehensive of how they would be all these years later in my first experience seeing them live. I was not at all disappointed! They hit the stage like a lead balloon (I believe the expression is at least) and proceeded to swing the hammer down on the Firefest crowd. So pumped to see them again and will not be missing either of their shipboard sets!
#2 - Krokus:
Once again this band's logo makes an appearance in my sleeve tattoo and they were one of the first rock bands I'd ever heard back in days of youth. I was 11 when The Blitz was released and "Midnite Maniac" is where it all began for me. I though I'd never have the chance to see them live and their announcement in the roster for Sweden Rock 2013 was integral part of my decision to trek to that event. Krokus exceeded expectations there and I have no doubt that they will exceed yours as well!
.....and (drum roll please...) The Meister's absolute "at all costs" must see band of the 2015 Monsters of Rock Cruise.........
#1 - Tyketto:
That name may seem somewhat of a surprise to some readers. Let me fill you in......I own some Tyketto albums and had spun them periodically and never really catching the buzz they got swarmed and lost in my collection over the years. During last year's Tesla sail away concert as the MSC Divina floated away from the port of Miami to begin (continue in some cases) the debauchery, I couldn't get a decent vantage point. Having seen Tesla on the previous cruises, I allowed a friend to pull (literally by the arm) me away and down into the bowels of the ship to where Tyketto was prepared to give a conflicting with Tesla performance in one of the lounges. Had it not been for the lack of vantage I would have missed out on this event! It's hard to describe what I felt, heard and saw during Tyketto's set, but it was certainly magical. They became the talk of the cruise and their second set was suitably more packed as those missing the first volleyed for a vantage point. This second performance drew several of Tyketto's peers as they'd also heard the buzz and wanted to check them out. Last year I named them "Best show on the boat" based solely on that first set, the second not only cemented it, but drove it home hard. If you miss Tyketto, you've wasted your time on the Monsters of Rock Cruise! Ok, not at all because the whole thing is mind blowingly awesome, but trust me catch a Tyketto show while you're there.
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What the hell just happened???? Step away for a bit to enjoy my Thanksgiving holiday and I get hacked by The Meister?!?! But you know what?? It's all good. Meister made some great picks and I'm sure I'll get to check out some of his Top 5 bands as well. Along with being completely stoked about going on the cruise, I'm equally stoked to meet Rich, Kate, and Brian and just take the whole experience in. Honestly, I hope to see as much of all the bands on board that I possibly can and report back to the Decibel Geek faithful. Stay tuned!!!!
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