Around about the middle of Germany, close to a town called Mühlhausen, in the federal state of Thüringen, lies a small town known as Schlotheim which hosts one of the best open air festivals in Europe. Party-San Metal Open Air was home to the best line-up’s I have seen at a festival in years. With headliners like Bolt Thrower, Immortal and Behemoth, whom was a late confirmation due to Deicide cancelling.
The festival started on Thursday the 9th of August as cars were lined up a fair way back at the entrance. For those of us traveling by commuter train, it was clear where everyone with beer and denim vests was heading. I arrived around lunchtime and quickly met up with some German mates of mine who had the campsite prepped for action.
Learning from previous experiences when seeing Bolt Thrower, I knew the merch tent would be open as soon as the festival area opened up. The queue was quite impressive as around 300 fans charged the gates like a pack of wild dogs hunting its pray.
Thursday had a decent start with Dead Congregation, they’re pretty average in my humble opinion. They were followed up Necros Christos and they were absolutely outstanding and had a killer set! I managed to meet the blokes from Assaulter and some other Aussie friends whilst waiting for Nifelheim. The Nifelheim set was impressive seeing as it was still pretty sunny, and we all know black metal bands prefer to perform at night. Nonetheless, Nifelheim did what they do best and tore it up! If I recall, there were a few mosh pits and some body slamming going on, much to the disapproval of the black metal elitists of course.
The festival grounds were in excellent condition and had cloud cover for most of the afternoon, which means it wasn’t boiling hot. The rest of the afternoon was spent buying heaps of merch and discussing possible set-lists of Sodom and Bolt Thrower. Finally, Sodom was set to perform and suddenly out of nowhere, heaps of people started flooding towards the main stage. I saw Sodom at Wacken last year and I was left disappointed due to the poor sound at the show. I am pleased to say that it was not the case at all this year and Sodom thrashed Party-San into submission! Outstanding set with killer tracks. As with any German band, playing in Germany, there was heaps of banter between Angelripper and the fans. The atmosphere was absolutely electric.
After Sodom, we were allowed to catch a 20 minute breather, as the Bolt Thrower banner dropped, the crowd went absolute ape shit! The slow grumbling of the down-tuned guitars and the crashing of drums and symbols had everyone in a head banging frenzy. I mean, it is Bolt Thrower, I wouldn’t have expected anything else. The best description of witnessing them live would be to have a tank drive over you where you stand, not only is it slow, but so fucking heavy as your senses are absolutely obliterated.
Friday had a better line-up in store, as the remnants of the after party were still hung-over and some still asleep in the festival area; it was going to be a long day! Friday kicked-off rather early with Malignant Tumor, who were quite the performers in terms of getting the energy up of a crowd who were still severely hung-over. Assaulter followed them and absolutely destroyed, they were fast, relentless and absolutely amazing live with a good mixture of old and new tracks. I took a break as Iron Lamb were playing and got my grim face on for Gospel of The Horns. Gospel had an amazing set and are quite the treat to see live.
General Surgery were probably one of the highlights for me, as normal looking blokes got onto the stage and did the sound check, nodded at a few fans who were yelling stuff at the band. They then disappeared and returned in their scrubs, drenched in blood and ready to rip Party-San Open-Air a new…well you get the idea. The set was incredible! They played tracks off “Left Hand Pathology” and “Necrology”. ‘Ambulance Chaser’ and ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ were my favourite form the set. Again, the goregrind act from Sweden managed to get some circle pits going, which made it rather intense to be humble.
Immolation was next on my list of bands to see, and they did not fail to impress. They ripped it up for a good 45 minutes. They also announced that they had finished recording a new album and that it would be released on Nuclear Blast early in next year. Ghost Brigade and Nile followed, neither of which impressed me that much. The Nile show was a bit too technical and rather emotionless for my taste. I reckon most people had one band and one band only on there minds… The mighty Immortal.
The Immortal set was a bit delayed due to some undisclosed reasons, the fans however weren’t going anywhere as the chants got louder and louder. Oh man, did they impress live! It had smoke; it had sparks of course the “Abbath crab-walk”. The set had some tracks off the new album and tracks off the classics like “Damned in Black”, “Sons of Northern Darkness”, “At The Heart of Winter” including the title track and ‘Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism’. All in all the band treated the crowd to a very animated show filled with a few pranks from the front man himself. One of the best live shows I have witnessed, it was spectacular. I was hoping for some fire breathing, but sadly Abbath did not comply.
Saturday, the final day of the festival had some good acts to look forward too. Rectal Smegma, were first to perform, I went to have a listen just based on the bands name, as i’d never heard of them before. The performance was energetic and managed to pull quite a few festivalgoers, which was impressive. Kind of had a Toilet Grind theme to it. Brilliant act to see live.
Some band called Cattle Decapitation followed. I have heard of the band, but never bothered to listen to them before. After being convinced by my vegan Canadian mate, I caved and went to see them. I was blown away by the performance of the “vegetarian grindcore” band in all aspects. The energy, the atmosphere and, of course the tightness of this band was immaculate. Definitely worth seeing live again.
The afternoon had a pretty good line-up in store with the likes of Archgoat, Ragnarok and Toxic Holocaust. Archgoat were brilliant live, no thrills, just straight up black metal. Again, in the afternoon, I think they would have preferred a later slot. They were supposed to be followed by Ragnarok, who were a wee bit late, so Toxic Holocaust took the stage instead. The performance was amazing; the crowd was really getting into it with circle pits and crowd surfing. The set was a mixture of old and new tracks, which compliment each other nicely. The set was finished off with ‘Bitch’, which had fans screaming the lyrics along with Joel Grind. Amazing band to see live.
Ragnarok eventually showed up and one could feel that they were a bit rushed and stressed. The longer the show went on, their true sound and atmosphere became evident and steered the performance home with ‘Black Door Miracle,’ which was incredible.
Incantation, Tankard and Behemoth were the bands that ended off the night for me. The incantation set was a bit short due to a last minute drummer replacement, so they played a few tracks and heaps of Mortuary tracks, which was pretty special in its own way. Incantation kicked ass, even though it was a short set. The vocals are still one of the most intense, brutal and ear destroying I have heard live.
Finally, it was time for some Beer Thrash and Tankard took to the stage. Again, heaps of German fans stormed the stage area, carrying the mandatory two beers, as you do. The show was outstanding and the crowd seemed to be getting into Tankard more than any other band that played that day. The set was action packed and set an amazing atmosphere for the band and fans to feed off. They are bloody brilliant live, and I would highly recommend seeing them if you like a bit of thrash.
It all came to an end and the atmosphere seemed to die down after Tankard, however, there was still 2 bands left. One of which was Behemoth who was a late replacement for Deicide. The set was cold, it was dark and rather morbid, the sound and lighting was excellent. The show had some upside down crucifixes on fire and heaps movement and crowd interaction from the Polish terrors. The set list included ‘Christians To The Lions’ which was probably the highlight for me, along with ‘At The Left Hand of God’. Great show and had a nice confetti explosion afterwards, which was a bit special. It ended off 3 days of metal madness. Party-San Metal Open Air is definitely one of the best, if not the best Open Air fests in Europe!
So, instead of doing Bloodstock or whatever, get on a plane, train or horse if need be and get your arse to this festival!