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Rockin' the boat

Progressive-metal bands take to the high seas on themed cruises, a la the famed Jam Cruise. Now, how about a pure prog cruise?

by Michael Popke

I’m still disappointed about the cancellation of the Triton Power Cruise, a progressive-metal festival on the high seas aboard the Carnival Imagination, which had been slated for April 30-May 3. Unfortunately, the ship – which would have hosted the first-ever live performance by Shadow Gallery, plus gigs with Evergrey, Pagan's Mind, Circle II Circle, Jon Oliva's Pain, Crimson Glory, Seven Witches, Futures End, Eumeria, The Element, Cage, Seven Kingdoms and Wicked Waltz – never set sail "due to an extreme medical crisis within the promoter's family." Even though I was unable to book passage on that voyage, I still had hoped to live vicariously through others whom no doubt would have filed online reports about what an unforgettable experience it was to cruise while proggin’. (That said, I certainly understand promoter Beth Mays' predicament regarding her son's heart, and I don't blame her one bit.)

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My wife and I (and sometimes with our kids) have been on several cruises, and each time we exited the gangway, we wished we could turn around and hop right back onboard – despite being bombarded with stale, predictable music in nearly every corner of the ship, especially the live performances. So for years, I've wondered what it would be like to take a prog-themed cruise modeled after the Jam Cruise, which this year included performances and passenger mingling courtesy of Zappa Plays Zappa, Galactic, Railroad Earth and Ohmphrey. I am not alone, it seems, because next January, at least 40 metal bands – including the progressive-inclined Epica, Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius – will participate in the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas (pictured).

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And this November, Cinderella, Vince Neil and Tesla will headline the second installment of ShipRocked aboard the MSC Poesia. Also scheduled is a rare appearance by the all-star super group HAIL!, which includes Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy, Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson, former Judas Priest throat Tim Owens and Sepultura’s Andreas Kisser. In addition, a special charity auction of one-of-a-kind rock memorabilia will raise money for cancer research in the name of Ronnie James Dio, who died from stomach cancer in May.

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I’m all for jam bands – heck, many prog bands could also be considered jam bands – and Railroad Earth and Umphrey’s McGee are two of my favorites. But it’s hard to imagine those bands rockin’ the boat like 70,000 Tons of Metal, ShipRocked (and, hopefully, one day) the Triton Power Cruise. Next, maybe some deep-pocketed promoter will develop a pure prog cruise. There's an ocean of potential performers...

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