Danse Macabre

Written by: AP on 25/10/2018 21:31:45

Death metal is more or less the go-to genre for aspiring metal artists in Denmark, yet in spite of its popularity, very few of the bands that choose that path end up creating any notable ripples abroad. It has thus been unusual to witness the hype building up around BAEST ever since the Århus-born quintet launched their first demo in 2016, and it was also surprising to learn that the band had been picked up by a prominent record label like Century Media, for the release of their long-awaited début album, “Danse Macabre”. Needless to say, that signing bumped the expectations for BAEST up a notch, having mostly gained recognition as a ferocious live act, rather than for the demo and the subsequent “Marie Magdalene” EP. A spin of the album later, however, those expectations have not just been met — they have been exceeded, fast-tracking the band into the upper echelons of the genre.

BAEST succeed not by innovating on death metal, but by nailing the basics, which results in a focused, yet also varied album, with its influences worn proudly on the sleeve. The band’s style most resembles the artists that sprung up around Stockholm, Sweden in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (Bloodbath, Dismember, Grave et al.), but there is also a scent of the Tampa, FL scene during that same period lingering within their soundscape. The diabolical tremolo melodies and bursts of chaos in the steamrolling “Hecatomb”, for instance, nod toward classic Deicide, while the combination of slowly struck, dissonant guitar chords with double-pedal pummel in the bridge to the titular “Danse Macabre” could have been inspired by Morbid Angel’s yonder years. But in spite of the plethora of influences on display across the record, it never comes across as mimicry. BAEST merely stand on the shoulders of those who came before them, taking the strong points of their idols and distilling those into their own distinct vintage.

That vintage embraces the eerie atmosphere, dense grooves and raw guitar tone upon which the genre was built, but not without bringing in some fresh flavour as well. As the standout trident of “Crosswhore”, “Atra Mors” and “Vortex” reveals, BAEST have an unusual penchant for lacing their music with lasting value, and putting songs together in such a way as to make them catchy insofar as death metal can be. One of the aces up the band’s sleeve in this regard is vocalist Simon Olsen, who masters the entire range needed in this genre — guttural growls, burly mid-range roars, and those shrill, fiendish screams borrowed from black metal — and switches between them as readily as drummer Sebastian Abildsten switches gear in the closing track, “Ego Te Absolvo”, an infernally grandiose piece that has an air of Behemoth about it. The performance of these two musicians is integral to what makes “Danse Macabre” such a diverse listen, albeit it would not be the same success without guitarists Lasse Revsbech and Svend Karlsson responding in kind with a superb catalogue of melodies and riffs that crush the idea that some people have about death metal being monotonous.

At 33 minutes, two of which are occupied by an acoustic interlude (“Ritual”), the album is quite a compact undertaking, and therein perhaps lies another reason for its triumphing; BAEST seem to have siphoned out everything that didn’t go bang on the first try. A blitzkrieg show of power, it sets the band up for a stellar career should they choose to carry it through (unlike so many of their domestic peers) and cranks up the expectations dial for a sophomore outing that might well turn out as a death metal classic. The potential, at least, is there.


Download: Crosswhore, Danse Macabre, Atra Mors, Vortex
For the fans of: Bloodbath, Dismember, Grave, Morbid Angel
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.08.2018
Century Media

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