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.
1. Heaven’s Edge – This band from Philly hit the scene around 1990 with their radio single Find Another Way from their self titled debut album. The band also had a video for the song Skin To Skin in rotation on MTV. A follow up album was prepared but due to lack of record label interest the project was shelved and the group would disband. Fast forward to 1998 and Heavens Edge would reform, sign a deal, and their sophomore album Some Other Place – Some Other Time would be released abroad that same year and in the US in 1999. Their debut album was rereleased in 2012 with some added bonus tracks. The band seems to tour sporadically, popping up at festivals both in the US as well as overseas. I am a huge fan of their debut album which is a blend of bluesy, melodic hard rock.
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.
3. John Corabi – The “Mayor” of The Monsters Of Rock Cruise returns once again in 2015 and this time, according to recent posts, will be bringing his current Motley Crue ’94 Album Show on board. This cruiser is keeping his fingers crossed that this will take place, as a John Corabi show of any kind has unfortunately eluded my concert experiences and the fact that he may be performing the MC94 album at length is an added bonus. In case you missed it, check out the recent 2 part Albums Unleashed episodes of The Decibel Geek Podcast featuring an in depth discussion with John Corabi on the Motley Crue ’94 album and his time with the band. Listen to part one HERE and part two HERE!!
4. Krokus – 2015 will mark this band’s 40th year but it seems like only yesterday I was in junior high school and playing air guitar in my parents’ living room while Screaming In The Night was blaring out of the FM radio speakers. If you would’ve told me back then that in 32 years I would be going on a cruise with Krokus I don’t think I would’ve believed it for a minute. Sadly, after 1983 I sort of lost track of Krokus although they did continue to record and tour despite some lineup changes. Earlier this year I rediscovered this rocking product of Switzerland after picking up there current live release Long Stick Goes Boom!: Live From da House Of Rust. Damn! Great album! Stellar album! Easily one of my top album picks of this year and easily another great addition to next year’s cruise!
5. Europe – This band was the nail in the coffin, the dealbreaker for me booking a spot on the 2015 Monsters Of Rock Cruise. I know to some that may seem odd, but this is another band that I rediscovered this year after getting their recent live CD. In this case it was their 30th Anniversary: Live At Sweden Rock double disc set that put Europe solidly back on my radar. Of course I was familiar with Europe during the mid 80’s. How could you not be after the release of their globally successful 1986 album The Final Countdown. It sold close to 10 mil
lion copies in the US alone. And as it were, I didn’t pursue anything the band did after that. Fast forward to early 2014 and me sitting at the computer scouring amazon and iTunes for something new to give me a fix when I stumble upon Europe’s latest double live retrospective cd set. To me, these were simply some of the best rock songs I’d never heard. Then when I saw they were literally one of the first bands booked on next years cruise, I was in. At any cost.
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 suitabl
y 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.
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!!!!