Party. San Open Air 2013 Review

Despite clashing with Brutal Assault and Bloodstock, Party.San is far from lacking when it comes to a devastating line up and the German airfield is crammed with punters in agreement.

The likes of Bombs of Hades kick off the proceedings with their crusty death metal from Sweden to an acceptable sized crowd and whilst Farsot’s sound is less ferocious, their harrowing post-black metal fills the stage. As the evening continues, the sunset creates the perfect setting for some French aural beauty a-la Alcest.  Their live show is intimate and hypnotising and a far cry from what’s next.

The crowd is probably at its most eager now as black thrashers Destroyer 666 take to the stage. Thankfully the wind settles and every rapid riff can be heard from favourites like ‘Raped’ and the epic ‘I Am The War God’. A tribute to the late Jeff Hanneman is raised in the form of Slayer’s ‘Black Magic’ along with several horns. The definition of black metal is confirmed as the moon glows and Carpathian Forest explode into the limelight. For many, this is the headline set of the day and Nattefrost and co prove they would have deserved it.

Friday sees an earlier start and a grind coupling of Gutalax and Magrudergrind seems like an obvious alarm clock. Others have saved energy for an onslaught from Coffins and it’s a good job they did, as they’re absolutely crushing live, doing each of their albums considerable justice. Vocalist Ryo communicates with sheer brutal vocals and whiskey swigging that complement their doom-riddled death metal.

Here to dampen the mood in the best possible way is Shining. The Swedes lower the tone from the off with their DSBM proving an ultimate contrast from the energy of earlier. The music is faultless and at times you wish the insanity of Kvarfoth the clown will stop so that the sounds created can be truly embraced.

The second stage sees the tent rammed in anticipation for a German occult ritual from Alchemyst, who leak mystery and atmosphere from the start of the set. Their black/death metal is drenched in reverb and the smoke and red lighting creates an incredibly dark aura with several tracks from ‘Nekromanteion’.

Tonight’s headliners Hypocrisy need no introduction. The Swe-death legends’ recent ‘End Of Disclosure’ album was weak, a couple of tracks slot in at the start without losing any oomph and older, tracks such as ‘Left To Rot’ bring out a balance of brutality.

With the last night finishing with three huge bands we need, Hooded Menace to continue the doom death presence of the weekend, with a sound thick enough to sink into and experience a death as slow as their songs.

After 25 years on the scene, Teutonic tormentors Desaster proved they still had it on record with last year’s ‘The Art of Destruction’and fortunately, they’ve still got it live, with a blackened thrash onslaught as bestial as their predecessors would predict.

After an unexpected silence, it is finally announced that Impaled Nazarene have had some car problems and vocalist Slutti666 runs onto the stage, band in toe. Admittedly, the sound is a little off to start but considering the consequences it’s soon forgotten with an onslaught of blackened thrash.

We try to ignore the fact Korpiklaani are on later than thrash titans Destruction but it’s hard when you see what they can do live. With several years under their bullet belts and a discography longer than most of the crowd’s hair, the band create a sound hard to believe is from a trio.

Carcass take their time but when they arrive, its full steam ahead with favourites including ‘Corporal Jigsaw Quandary’, ‘Heartwork’ and ‘Genital Grinder’. We even get a showcase of what to expect from latest offering ‘Surgical Steel’, which slots in with ease and could’ve easily closed the festival.

Luckily for us it doesn’t end there and Party.San manages to find a band that could top the likes of Carcass – Venom. Frequently coined as the founders of this whole scene, the band take the label with pride and prove it with the majority of the set showcasing the ‘Welcome To Hell’ and ‘Black Metal’ albums. He may be half a century in age but Cronos is unstoppable, his shrill cries still as memorable as they were at the beginning and the band sums up perfectly what Party.San is all about.

Review by Lily Randall

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Hellfest 2012 – Saturday

Before we have even had time to shake off the hangover, it’s already time to get back into the arena for round two. It’s slightly bizarre to see a band as dark and melancholic as German black/death outlet Necros Christos in broad daylight, however the attempt at sunshine is completely eclipsed by their toned down axes and slow and sinister riffs. In true Necros Christos form, there are many long and magical interludes and instrumentals which are equally as impressive as the gravely metal it separates.

Over on the Main Stage Two, the thrash has bought the sunshine out again and Death Angel are swimming in good vibes. Celebrating the 25 year anniversary of their debut to the day, the band treats their fans to ‘The Ultra Violence’ in its entirety. Every member of the band is full of energy and both the audience and artist are full of smiles as they shred through the title track and favourite ‘Thrashers’. Mark’s dreads are flung around like wild snakes as he laps up every bit of this historical moment for the band.

When you look up to bands so highly, you forget the fact that bands look up to one another and when Exodus are joined on stage by some of the Death Angel boys, it’s clear the thrash scene is still as tight knit as before. The Bay Area bruisers never fail to impress when it comes to their live shows as they blast through their catalogue, sticking to the older stuff this time round. Rob Dukes is the ultimate pit commander and when ‘Toxic Waltz’ starts, everyone loses their shit, both metaphorically and literally (you should’ve seen the lost property after). Unfortunately guitarist Gary Holt is unable to attend, however fans are more than pleased about the stand in, former guitarist Rick Hunolt.

Despite being in the death metal underground for so long, America’s Necrophagia certainly haven’t decayed. Last year’s release of ‘Deathtrip 69’ was a great success and the set is as gory as their name would suggest with frontman Killjoy, the only original member, bringing out plastic limbs and then thrusting a fake decapitated head. Despite the bizarre pantomime, the acoustics are raw and edgy and with Necrophagia rarely touring Europe, this is definitely a treat.

Back over on the Temple Niklas Kvarforth’s previous stage antics have clearly spread as the crowd starts to inflate, however compared to other gigs, he’s on his best behaviour. Instead of any cutting, the depressive black metallers Shining sound as melancholic as ever despite the contrasting weather. Blending a set of new and old sadness, the Swedes manage to cause shoegazing aplenty without their fans losing concentration.

Unlike bands over on the Temple and Valley stages, Napalm Death are able to showcase almost three times more tracks thanks to their short but stinging grind/death. Their debut ‘Scum’ was thrown onto us 25 years ago, yet the English veterans haven’t stopped with this year’s release ‘Utilitarian’ being equally as gnarly. ‘Utilitarian’ is largely exhibited throughout the set but despite their experience, Napalm Death, along with other grind acts this weekend; suffer thanks to the Altar’s sound.

Closing the Altar on the first night is old school death legends Entombed, the perfect end to the death-fuelled day. The Swedes are fortunately untouched by any technical difficulties unlike other bands today as they chug through belters from classic ‘Left Hand Path’ and then slow things down for the death’n’roll vibes of ‘Wolverine Blues’.  The whole experience is as raw and rotten as a death fan would hope, without losing any talent along the way.

An even bigger bonus is that before you can get your breath back, you simply turn around and Behemoth are setting up over on the Temple. As expected there is plenty of bustle from fans desperate to catch a glimpse of the band after the illness frontman Nergal suffered caused them to take a break. Luckily, the frontman is back to his old self and holds no self-pity as he doesn’t bring up the leukaemia once, instead leading his Polish troops into a storming performance. They are as tight and empowering as they were previously, with favourites like ‘Ov Fire and the Void’ and ‘Demigod’ really embracing the blackened death energy. With additional pyro and black confetti, the band confirms their stardom status in the metal scene, and a well-deserved one at that.

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Shining/Enthroned/Svart Crown/Order of Apollyon @ Underworld, London

With the Shining’s apparent refusal to play anywhere other than London in the UK, grimsters have travelled far and wide to get their frostbitten fix. With this in mind what better warm up than blackened death debutees Order Of Apollyon, despite this being their first ever time playing together in the same room, the supergroup consisted of members from Akercocke, Aborted and Cradle of Filth. Regardless of their lack of gigging OoA manage to pull off a pristine set showcasing their first album and collecting up more minions along the way.

Next up is Svart Crown, who’s equally brutal blackened death attracts a larger crowd to unleash their varied tempos with a calm and collected live presence. The French metallic furies are definitely a diamond of a find for those here who haven’t heard of them before and cause the first pit of the evening. Lead support Enthroned appear to have quite a following already and concoct a sound much more raspy than the previous. Their almost symphonic black metal creates a Dimmu-esque aura and clearly attracts a similar crowd. Although their performance is tight, it seems a little style over substance for a line up leading up to a band such as Shining.

After faking his death frontman Niklas Kvarforth, is back for his second offering of his enigmatic personality after supporting Satyricon last year. Enigmatic of course, depending on your viewpoint of being vomited on from the stage. Shining’s depressive yet equally enchanting DSBM creates a room full of hypnosis, the audience’s heads banging in sync, almost like a nod of approval despite the front row being covered in sick. The Swedes, not to be confused with the jazz hands of the Norwegian Shining, wail out an array of their discography, which sounds clean and concise, a shame the smell in the air is not the same.

Review by Lily Randall

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