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The extravaganza known as "the world's biggest heavy metal cruise" doesn't sail for six months, but that hasn't stopped the 70000 Tons of Metal voyage from unleashing what's shaping up to be one of the most potent lineups in its seven years.

Having sold out its first six treks, 70000 Tons of Metal rounded out the first half of its 60-band roster today with the addition of Unleashed. But organizers, headed by cruise architect Andy Piller, made a major statement with the first band it revealed a couple weeks back as Anthrax became the first member of the Big 4 of thrash -- which includes Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer -- ever to commit to the ship.

70000 Tons is again expected to sell out with more than 3,000 passengers representing 70-plus countries. Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas will host four stages on the Feb. 2-6, 2017, journey from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Labadee, Haiti, including the main stage on the pool deck that includes a pair of jacuzzis and the pool that hosts the annual belly-flop contest judged by some of the artists. Meet-and-greets, merch, and karaoke sessions that in the past have included thrash-band members singing and dancing to '70s disco music will also be included as well as All-Star jam sessions and instructional clinics. If that isn't enough, the vessel also provides options such as casinos, workout rooms overlooking the ocean and, you guessed it, bars that never close.

Each band plays one set en route to the destination. Passengers and musicians will then get to spend approximately half a day in Labadee, unwinding by snorkeling, jet skiing, sightseeing, zip lining, or simply drinking at beachside cantinas. Once it's time to sail back to Florida, each band will play another set, with the music virtually going 'round the clock as some groups will be playing at 3, 4 and 5 in the morning for those who aren't passed out or too hung over.

Half of the first 30 announced bands are first-timers, including DevilDriver, Summer Slaughter tour representatives Revocation -- whose participation was revealed last Friday when they released latest album Great is our Sin -- and Dying Fetus. Repeat offenders as 70000 Tons veterans include former Scorpions guitar great Uli Jon Roth, death-metal stalwarts Suffocation (which includes San Antonio drummer Kevin Talley), and the band that arguably had the most energy of the groups on the inaugural journey in 2011: Death Angel.

Testament was the 29th band announced Tuesday. The California Bay Area thrash veterans were also part of the first voyage five years ago, relegating their sets to performances of their first two albums: 1987's The Legacy in its entirety, followed by 1988's The New Order virtually in its entirety and with the sequence mixed up. This time, the band figures to spotlight the forthcoming Oct. 28 release of The Brotherhood of the Snake, at least for one of its sets.

Complete artist schedules, including times of performances and stages, will be revealed closer to the trip.

The first four years of the excursion saw 2,000 passengers representing 50-55 nations getting their voyage on board the Majesty of the Seas with 40 bands taking part. But the trek's continued success necessitated a larger ship that weighs 154,000-plus tons with an additional 1,000 passengers and 20 more bands (though the event kept the name 70000 Tons). Organizers enjoy billing the event as the world's largest backstage pass for everyone, because in addition to the scheduled meet-and-greets, fans and artists can hang out virtually anytime on land or at the ship's bars, dining halls -- anywhere a human can be run into on the Independence of the Seas. As was the case this past February, next February's trip will coincide with Super Bowl Sunday. The big game will be available via big screen for those so inclined or -- gasp! -- needing a break from the metal.

The madness on board doesn't include the pre-sailing parties on South Beach, where a convection of international fans will take over Miami's most famous waters in a gigantic gathering of black T-shirts.

While other rock and metal cruise options have popped up over the years, 70000 Tons of Metal was the one that started them all. It continues to do so at 154,000 tons -- which can also describe the level of fun sure to be experienced by everyone who will participate in celebrating the universal language of metal no matter where they're from.

The following bands have been announced thus far (*indicates previous 70000 Tons participant):

  • Amaranthe
  • Amorphis*
  • Annihilator*
  • Anthrax
  • Arch Enemy*
  • Cruachan
  • Death Angel*
  • DevilDriver
  • Draconian
  • Dying Fetus
  • Equilibrium*
  • Grave Digger*
  • Haggard*
  • Kalmah
  • Kamelot
  • Moonsorrow*
  • Nile*
  • Omnium Gatherum
  • Orphaned Land*
  • Powerglove
  • Revocation
  • Saltatio Mortis
  • Stam1na
  • Stuck Mojo
  • Suffocation*
  • Testament*
  • Therion*
  • Uli Jon Roth*
  • Unleashed
  • Xandria*

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