Party San Open Air 2018

Flugplatz Obermehler Germany
August 9th-11th

Report and pictures by: Omer and Ingrid

For almost ten years now, your metal-exposure crew is visiting Party San Open Air and one thing we can say for sure: it’s an festival of extremes. By that we don’t only mean the music, since Party San is known for having a billing that consists of the heavier kind of metal styles there is, but also mainly the weather. The past ten years we’ve been up to our knees in the mud, or been burned away by almost unbearable heath multiple times. Last year we mainly had rain, so this year it was about time for something we haven’t experienced yet: a sandstorm!
Let’s start at the beginning. On Wednesday afternoon yours truly arrived at the Party San grounds and was very pleased by the smooth process of the arrival. Glad that most of the crew and security spoke proper English (we have experienced otherwise) it was soon time to build up tents and start exploring. The traditional pre-party on Wednesday in the tent was very well visited and all the early arrived metal heads partied as if there was no tomorrow.

Thursday

There was a tomorrow; after all, the festival itself hadn’t even started yet. Fighting the heath, because the first day was hot as hell, halfway the afternoon the metalhead gathered at the festival area to watch the opening band Our Survival Depends On Us. Reading HELL IS HERE with big letters above the stage, the organization couldn’t have been more right because the temperature sure felt like we were in hell. Let’s hope that hell will provide us with as much great bands as the festival offered us this year because from the start on till the end, the shows were great. But what’s a festival start without a few hick ups?
While Our Survival Depends On Us was killing their show, they also killed the sound. A few songs into the set a big BOOM was heard, to be followed by not much sound left. Fortunately the crew worked very hard to get things fixed while the band bravely continued playing, proper sound was back after some minutes.

When Gruesome started their set, most sound problems seemed to be over and the band played a decent show without many struggles. Barely four years ago this band was founded and this was already their second appearance on the Party San festival. They seemed to have built up a proper fan-base because despite the heath, quite some people showed up to enjoy them.

Unanimated have returned to the stage of Party San, and as a first band of the festival for many (including yours truly, that’s how it is when you don’t actually sleep), it has been a delight. The 5-pack were hitting the masses with material spanning over their three albums, while not leaving any classic untouched, such as “Endless Beyond” and “Life Demise”.

Slowly but surely, skies have been filled with dark clouds, as though anticipating the mighty Dead Congregation. All the way from Greece and one of the best Death Metal acts of the past few years, a large attendance have come to witness this total desecration of heaven on stage.
Remember those clouds from earlier? Apparently, there’s a storm on its way, and the wall of hateful riffs and aggressive yells by the Greek members have been disturbed after 5 songs, where an alarm and repeated sentence in a number of languages, said to clear the festival area for safety reasons, get back to the campsite, check that one’s tent is properly pegged to the ground, and if the storm is worsened – to “get into the car”. O…K… Apparently, the Apocalypse is heading here. However, after 10 minutes or so of wind, the sky cleared and after 20 more minutes, the festival organizers deemed it safe to go back to the normal schedule. Unfortunately, it was all over for Dead Congregation, who were already done.

Straight from Birmingham, United Kingdom, came the magistrates of everything that is Industrialized in Black Metal with numerous other extreme hints of a gazillion genres, Anaal Nathrakh. Armed with brand new 2018 material and a whole barrel of past releases that mostly reaped positive feedback , Dave “Vitriol” Hunt showed exactly why these guys have been relevant since the start and aren’t ceasing to be even to this day. The stage has been nothing short than pure madness for 45 minutes, as some of the most extreme tunes the metal world have ever seen, were mixed with tremendous live performance abilities. The English bunch isn’t usually my cup of tea (English… Cup of Tea… Got it? No? Err, I’ll show myself out), but I have to admit I stuck around mostly for the on-stage performance, which was pretty amazing.

Not new to the Party San stage either are Toxic Holocaust. Their show got a little shortened, like most shows after the storm, as well but nevertheless most people seemed to be finished with picking up the pieces of what was left of their camps and were back on the festival field. The band played a good and steady show with lots of activity in the audience to be seen.

Not long after Toxic Holocaust finished their thrashy little set, a personal favorite of mine was due and after the backdrops were hung on the stage, the three powerhouses that form Revenge, began their musical execution of the festival attendants. “Us And Them” opened the mighty set list, whereas right after it, came “Traitor Crucifixion” when James and Chris alternating and trading some of the vocals between them to create a massive wall of anger and fear. One could easily say that songs like “Pride Ruination” is a lesson in how to make extreme metal in the proper way. Revenge don’t hold back, Revenge don’t care about your bleeding ears, or your bleeding eyes for that matter (constant lights flickering on stage, not for the weak-eyed!), and it’s just as it should be.
The band continued to alternate between older and newer material, giving the crowd (those who weren’t weak, and did come to see the Canadians!) a little taste of everything, managing to crush everyone like a goddamn tank that rolls over a baby carriage. Don’t look for melodies here, you’ll find none.

Next on the billing was supposed to be Master’s Hammer but due to the delay in the time schedule they were moved to play after Emperor. It has been a long long time since I last saw Emperor live and I was curious and excited to see them today. The show mainly was build up by the band playing their Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk album in total live. Brilliantly they worked their way through the songs and all I and many around me could do was just simply enjoy all of it. Some time was left for classics as I Am The Black Wizards and Inno a Satana, and way too soon the show was over already.

Friday

Traditionally the Friday started with your annual dose of Grindcore and Slam. The honor this year went to Guineapig. People with leek, toilet brushes and confetti in their hands moved themselves towards the festival field and it didn’t take long for everybody to warm up when the band started playing. The circle pit started immediately, and happy people slamming and walking or running in circles were continually in front of the stage. Every now and then they formed a huge pile of human beings jumping on top of each other. Crowd and band satisfied.

A lot of firsts for me this year. The Committee was next and was one of the bands I was most looking forward to. All dressed in black they entered the stage and started preaching their straightforward black metal to the audience, that was nodding their heads approving. The show was great and very tight played.

Back to the slamming and moshpits because next on stage were the guys from Benighted, with was probably one of the best gigs of the festival. Now I have seen them quite some times and they never disappoint but today their performance was extraordinary and the audience agreed. The band was very enthusiastic and presented a brutal wall of sound from start to end. This resulted in the moshpit growing bigger and bigger and heads banging everywhere. A true highlight of the festival.

Variety was great today because we were back at a total different sound again. Pillorian was only formed two years ago but their first full length Obsidian Arc was very well received and their fanbase is quite big already, also today. With that being the only album out yet, the setlist wasn’t very surprising but they played a great show, although the setting for a show like this would have been better if it was a little darker, or inside the tent.

If one didn’t have a big enough dose of Death Metal up until now with Benighted and Guineapig, one could listen to the beginning of Coffins’ gig, hailing from Japan. The fat riffs, low vocals and high pitched guitar from time to time makes this band sound a bit more original than the rest in its genre, and PartySan may well be one of the best events for the band to perform in and by the looks on them they seemed to enjoy this a lot. After a small troubled start, the rest of the show was real good.

The sun was still in its height and might when The Black Dahlia Murder went up on stage, at around 17:45, and immediately began tearing the crowd a new one with “Widowmaker”. The band’s catchy kind of Melodic Death Metal isn’t usually my preferred kind of music, yet watching the cacophonic harmony between Brian, Trevor and the rest of the Detroiters on stage, made it all better. Eye-catching, mesmerizing and just pure aggressive fun, as the guys moved on to tunes such as “Matriach” and “Nightbringers” with its many shift-changing tunes and subtle breaks, attracting even the toughest people around to bang their head from time to time and release a little steam.

Right after the American bunch ended their gig, homeboys Deserted Fear, from Thuringia themselves, went up with some of the most supportive crowd in the festival yet, and they loved it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band smile so much in between songs in PartySan, and that every word the vocalist puts out is being rewarded with huge cheers. Now, Deserted Fear aren’t the most original band in the world, but their basic Death Metal works – It combines an old school feel with a more modern approach, and this defines their sound quite well, as these three guys grew to be pretty big in Germany with their last two full length albums, and it seems like PartySan is their home turf.

By a certain time of the day, one would grow a bit of a hunger. Out of the usual Fries with Mayo/Ketchup and the “Thai” (as if) noodles stand, there’s also the usual Half-A-Chicken that’s usually one of the best deals you can find on the festival ground, but in recent two years or so, there’s also been a Vegan stand.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I eat everything that has legs and isn’t a table. There’s no bigger carnivore than me. However (!), that Vegan place is indeed, one of the best in the festival. Why? Simple fact – They try harder. It’s much more difficult to make a flab of beans taste and appeal to most people, then just put a piece of meat on the fire.

Beer, of course, is still the known Kostritzer, that you can get in either yellowish Pils or a darker (Dunkel) version. Although finally, PartySan got rid of the old cheap plastic cups they used in combination with the black plastic deposit coins (anyone wants any of my 20-something that I have laying around somewhere?) and instead, are now using quality cups that carry the festival logo and lineup on them.

Now, Exhorder are somewhat of a mystery. They had two successful full lengths in the 90s, a live album, and nothing else really. They broke up, reunited, broke up again, made another comeback… and over the years I pretty much lost track. Anyway, watching them live in PartySan was a damn delight! Hearing tracks like “Death In Vain”, or the heavy-as-heck “Legions Of Death” truly made my day, while tunes like the religion-hating “Slaughter In The Vatican” made the crowd go crazy for the these Thrash veterans. It’s amazing how Kyle Thomas, the band’s front man, is able to produce more energy on stage than people half his age and how the rest of the band sits as tight as their glorious days of 1993.

Speaking of old school, by 21:00, the Swedish Viking-based Death Metal band that goes by the name of Unleashed, have stormed the main stage and opened with the brutal “The Final Silence” that immediately sent the crowd into a frenzy of headbanging, moshing and randomly throwing their beer cups into the air that pretty much didn’t stop for the entire duration of the gig. The communication between Johnny and the German crowd is sometimes a source of envy, as he manages to command a whole horde of people to pretty much do as he wants, and so, when the band sails through tracks such as “Black Horizon”, “Before The Creation Of Time” and “Dead Forever”, the support is never ending.
Say what you want about the similarity between the band’s albums and songs, you can’t deny that their formula have been working nonstop for the past 29 years, and doesn’t show any sign of stopping anytime soon.

At around 22:00 and something, Dying Fetus made an appearance. If you’ve never witnessed these Maryland dwellers live before, I’ll just sum it up and say that the stage almost broke in half when the sheer brutality of material like the new “Wrong One To Fuck With” sprung out of the stage speakers, and the moshpits during “From Womb To Waste” and “Fixated On Devastation” has been some of the most intense I’ve ever witnessed (and participated in) in PartySan. A bonus was seeing and hearing Trey Williams on drums, as I now firmly believe that the guy has legs of steel and an engine in each hand. So damn fast, so damn brutal.

Friday’s headliner, the main treat today, were the almighty Venom, straight from the UK. Now, with PartySan being a festival that annually holds at least 50% Black Metal bands in its rooster, it’s only natural that the most suitable opening track this evening would be “Black Metal”, only to be followed by the no-less memorable “Welcome To Hell”. Dante, who usually sits behind the drum kit, is recovering from an injury and replacing him was Karlos Bareham, who was no less of an animal on the leather toms.
The veterans of old Thrash/Black have continued with pretty much every other well-known song in their rooster, like “Buried Alive”, “The Evil One”, and they even finished with a sweet encores that included the mighty “In League With Satan” and “Witching Hour”, which in my opinion is the best Venom song.
Cronos has been energized as a newly opened pack of batteries on stage, as per usual, and it’s a bit hard to believe that the guy turned 55 last January. Makes your back pain rants seem like nothing now, eh?

Saturday

Honestly, I usually don’t bother going to the Saturday opener. I’m too hammered from the past night to do anything that doesn’t involve coffee (or bacon, because bacon), yet by 12:00 I managed to scrape myself out of my tent and onto the stage area. Gorilla Monsoon were pretty much done at the Tent Stage by the time I managed to score some of the not-so-shitty coffee, and arrived just in time to watch the toilet-infused threesome Razorrape, straight from the land of moustaches and Snus, Sweden.
The one and only reason I actually like the band, is because they combine some more groovy elements into their pile of diarrhea, intestines and other bodily fluids, and the fact that the dual vocals (one by Martin, founder of the band, who also bangs the drums like they’re his slave) are making this sound even sicker than what it is. You know that sometimes, when you slurp your morning coffee, you feel an urge to go to the toilet? Well, that’s Razorrape. They’re here to make you feel good! Or something. Anyway, putting these guys up as an opener for Saturday was apparently a good decision, as usually there’s not a lot of attendance in those weird early hours, and there was a pretty big one for these Snus sniffers. Yes, I know you don’t sniff Snus.

Harakiri For The Sky isn’t new to the German festival stages, but they are new to the Party San stage here in Schlotheim. They have gained quite some popularity and it showed looking at the amount of people that came to watch them. Harakiri Of The Sky t-shirts were to be seen everywhere. The setlist mainly contained songs of their latest two albums Arson and III:Trauma that were played and received with a lot of enthusiasm.

Carpathian Forest was probably the biggest disappointment of the festival. I have seen great shows by this band but today was a total mess. The comeback of this band didn’t impress me at all. Singer Nattefrost seemed to be drunk while on stage, telling the audience a bit too many times that it was time to play some Rock ‘n Roll. The rest of the band tried hard to save the show and some credits have to be given for that, but that’s about it. I couldn’t make it to the end and it seemed I wasn’t the only one because during the show a lot of people were seen to be leaving. The glory days of Carpathian Forest might be over, a real shame.

What a delight it was to see the old masters of Exciter playing some proper ‘Rock ‘n Roll’ afterwards. Ok, not Rock ‘n Roll at all but damn fine straightforward Speed Metal. They totally put the smile back on everybody’s faces again with their show. Playing a great show with that many years of experience probably goes as easy for them in the same way that I put my shoes on in the morning. Even though it’s not my favorite kind of metal I really enjoyed it; mainly watching drummer ánd vocalist Dan Beehler. The energy level of this band is so high it’s impossible to not get carried along.

Up next for me were the almighty Sadistic Intent! If you don’t know who these guy are, please stop here, go listen to Resurrection and/or Ancient Black Earth, which are arguably some of the best releases in Death Metal history, and then return here.
This was only the second time I’ve caught these California mad men, but that was 4 years ago and boy oh boy, watching them tear the stage in PartySan with songs like the crushing “Numbered With The Dead” and classics like “Ancient Black Earth” has been a total delight.
It’s a bit of a shame that the band didn’t perform a bit later that evening, but still, “Condemned In Misery” and “Impending Doom” are some of the sickest tracks ever written, so no matter when are they played, they’re still ruling supreme.
Sadistic Intent are proving time and time again why they’re some of the best bands out there!

Continuing with the line of Death Metal, one of the best names in recent years, Tribulation, have gone up on stage. Now, these guys have been around since 2004, but it only with their 2013 album that they truly began to soar to new heights, and by this time, it seems like there’s no stopping these Swedish ghouls.
With material from the band’s very successful last few full lengths albums, such as “Lady Death”, “Rånda”, “The Motherhood Of God” and “Melancholia”, the band manages to transfer their special blend of aggression, 70s psychedelic feel, and gothic hints straight from the studio and into the open air stage. The band’s imagery helps quite a lot with this, and even though the sun of the evening was still somewhat shining, it did not disturb the show to be one of the darkest, and most mesmerizing this festival has seen this year. One could easily spot a few opened jaws in the crowd.

What can be said about Brujeria? Basically, a bunch of crazy Mexicans who decided one day to do some of the most crazy music. Cocaine, life, death, sex, political situations… Pretty much every hard subject you can think about, Brujeria have probably made a song about it. As someone who never witnessed these guys live before, I have to say it was quite a ride – First off since the music is an awesome, groovy kind of Death Metal that dabs into the realms of Grindcore for some great moments, and tracks as aggressive as “Colas De Rata” are just instant moshpit activators, whereas the communication with the crowd is at its peak in this kind of gig, even making a few thousand people yell “Fuck Trump”, before the bass-layered “Viva Presidente Trump” began playing.
Another nice element in Brujeria’s gig is the cooperation between Juan Brujo and El Sangrón, as they manage to tell a story, even when it’s in Spanish, and about 90% of the crowd have no real idea what they’re speaking about. The small gestures, the movements, and the music tell the story almost as good as words. Magnificent!

I found it quite befitting that the last band to hold ground in the tent stage would be no other than Possession. The Belgian horde has been around 2012 and ever since then, it has been quite amazing to see these guys grow into the entity that they are today. It may seem odd that a band with only one full length (but a pile of EPs and Demos) have grew to be one of the names that is associated best with the darker, more evil side of Extreme Metal, but when a band is performing alongside acts such as Denial Of God and Destroyer 666, you understand that there’s something there that makes the masses commit to what they hear and see.
I have never saw Possession live (even though I followed them since their early material) and I was not disappointed. The evil ritual that ensued was a performance that left pretty much everything else in the goddamn dust. Clouded by a screen of smoke, blood, sweat and a constant red color that came out straight of hell, the group presented the now-fully-packed tent area with songs from their latest successful full length, but also didn’t skip sick classics from the Anneliese EP (whereas it has been played in its entirety) and the demo that went by the name of His Best Deceit. If you ever get the chance to watch Possession of stage, I highly recommend it. You find a darker band these days.

Immediately afterwards the first tunes of Tankard were to be heard. As over-energetic as always they entered the stage and started their amazing set. I think singer Geremia walked a few miles in total during the show because as usual he kept going from left to right on the stage nonstop. The rest of the band didn’t stand still either, and neither did the audience. Thrash metal played by Germans, performed for Germans is always a good combination, and Party San knows this because bands like Tankard and Kreator keep coming back to the festival, with good reason. The show they played was great as always and I was happy they involved some fire into the show because it was getting really cold on the festival field.

Not afraid to use a ‘little’ fire either was the headliner of the day and this year’s festival Watain. Starting their show half their stage props were put on fire the way they should and it was nice and warm in front of the stage, instead of bloody cold the further you walked away from the stage. Watain aren’t unfamiliar here at Party San since this is (correct me if I’m wrong) already the fifth time they play on the festival. Still the fans welcome the band with open arms and the field was filled with people. Now a few years back I’ve seen them play a horrible show on Party San, but I am glad to tell you that this year couldn’t be more the opposite of that show back then. Pure straightforward and very well played black metal was delivered to us for more than an hour including some blood/organ throwing into the audience and Erik his little ritual afterwards. Of course some songs from their latest release Trident Wolf Eclipse were played, but the setlist in general was a good mix from older and newer albums.

And with this the festival was over, at least, concerning the live performances. As always the after party in the tent continued until the early hours of morning and those were not quite yet done partying could be found there, banging their heads and dancing around, with or without some glowsticks as decoration.
For us yet another year of Party San done. As always we enjoyed it a lot. We want to compliment the festival on the way they handled the weather situations, introducing hard plastic cups and the, as always, friendly atmosphere. The only side note left to make is: WHY WAS THERE NO PIZZA?! How are we supposed to survive a festival without pizza?! This is unbearable! 😉

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