By on 19 August 2010



It’s not all fun, fun fun on the Autobahn, there is a lorry just in front of us on fire. Huge flames light up the night sky and we are not moving for some time. Visions of a Jorg Buttgereit clean-up crew are on the mind, as cans of transported food-goods explode intermittently and we hope the poor sod driving somehow managed to escape. Many hours later we crawl past the articulated reeking carcass and head further into the early morning driving rain, arriving finally at the campsite at 4AM. Next day the site is a mud bath and the rain lashes it down as though the powers that be are angry to allow such festivities of blasphemy to take place. We see a sign spread out saying ‘Welcome To Hell’ and there is little disagreement.

Miraculously the rain stops just before the six bands of the first night are due to play and by now we have got used to wading around and just about staying upright and head off towards the one big stage (no clashes here). The other great thing about Party San is that the organisers only invite bands that are black, death and grind orientated to play so if you prefer musical brutality it’s a great event to go to, of course the cheap German schwarzbier is another selling point for many.

It’s only fair that the German’s open proceedings and we witness the gnarly Sodomistic fury that is Ketzer. The Rhinelanders may not be the most original band on the planet but they don’t need to be as ‘Satan’s Boundaries Unchained’ whiplashes out the hefty PA and gets heads-banging and fists pumping. All the band’s at the festival get a 45 minute time limit, the headliners longer and then the next group are quickly set up to play so there is little hanging around before the next course is served up.

In this case it is one we are particularly interested in as Merrimack are one of a couple of French BM acts putting in an appearance. Light has not quite been extinguished but their grim and atmospheric treatise is instantly captivating and commanding. Despite what seems like constant line-up upheaval they craft a tight battering tumult which is both clear and hellacious. The craggy vocals add to the decrepit cloying atmosphere and a hateful, filth-ridden feel pervades, which accentuates the weather fantastically. Not everyone stands to attention arms crossed and looking like scene terrorists though, the natives are making the most of things and around the musical violence an impromptu ballroom dance and occasional mooning competition bizarrely keeps everyone entertained.

As far as USDM is concerned there may well have been a flight chartered to get all the bands playing directly to site. First up in this particular assault are Devourment complete with what appears to be a bassist wearing a horses head, either that or the beer is particularly good. They proceed to stomp around like a giant in six league boots about to wipe out all the surrounding forests and there is a bit of a farmyard theme going on as they plough into ‘Fed To The Pigs.’ Luckily this is far from tripe and we dig in, along to the swarthy drum battery and growling vocals, which sound like gobbets of flesh swirling down a waste disposal unit. Songs like ‘Postmortal Coprophagia’ are dished up straight off the butchers slab and vile kind grind leaves a rather nasty taste in the mouth and is one that is far from vegetarian.  

Monstrosity are maybe slightly subtler but no less a case of death the brutal way. The drumming is dealt out with military precession and occasional technical licks burst through like a well oiled and precise machine. This certainly has a neat furrowing groove about it and combined with swirling dry ice and overloading strobe lights it’s great to hang on to the barrier and try not to get blown off your feet to.

This was the third time I have caught The Devil’s Blood and Watain back to back recently. They seem well matched, able to share both blood and band members and speaking of splash-backs there is no shortage of protective polythene wrapped around everything on the stage and the worried looking security in front of it. As ever the Dutch band play an absolute spellbinding set, one of arcane 70s psyche and mystically enhanced ‘Anti Kosmik Magick.’ Farida’s stance, arms outstretched and voice reaching to the stratosphere is something that you are just drawn to. The rest of the band stand flexing muscles, covered in claret and riffing away like tomorrow is never going to come and the whole performance really is one of a kind. This takes us completely to another dimension, which is far from a muddy field in Germany.

Watain seem to have gone that extra mile with the big stage to play around with. It is set up with burning crosses and tridents and looks close to hell’s waiting room. When the band burst forth to excellent sound they have one intent, to create nothing short of total darkness. They may have lacked the customary stench which is probably not the easiest thing to pull off at an open air event but they really don’t need anything in the way of incidental gimmicks at the witching hour although huge pillars of flame leaping off the stage are hardly going to dampen the spirit. ‘Reaping Death’ and ‘Legions Of The Black Light’ go down a storm and the band as ever fleshed out by Set Teitan and splattered with unholy ichor are fantastic to watch. By the time they hit Stellarvore there is little left for the naysayers to comment on, Watain walk the talk and they do so in spectacular style.

Pete Woods   

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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