BAEST

support Mass Worship
author AP date 08/10/21 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

For the second week in a row, I find myself in the confines of Pumpehuset — this time in order to watch BAEST as part of their first-ever headlining tour of Denmark. Considering that the Århusian death metal crew is among the most hyped in the country and have already played in front of ten thousand people at the Copenhell festival, it is pretty remarkable that they have not embarked on such a trek before. But the novel coronavirus struck at precisely the wrong time, postponing their plans not once, nor twice, nor thrice — but four times since the spring of 2020. The level of anticipation is thus understandably through the roof inside the maxed out venue, the band’s local fanbase hellbent on giving them another feather for their cap before this trek is taken abroad onto European roads next year, which will culminate in what is certain to be another triumphant show at Copenhell in the summer. Hell will be raised tonight, it seems, so I find myself a spot safe from flying bodies and beers, and get ready to be blown off my feet by this force of nature that is BAEST once again.

All photos courtesy of Jakob Muxoll

Mass Worship

About a month after all remaining restrictions were lifted in Denmark, many of us are still having some post-pandemic firsts. In the case of Mass Worship, they are neither the first band, nor even the first metal band that I have seen live since early 2020, but the first international artist. Indeed, the five piece hails from the Swedish capital city Stockholm, a fact which inevitably leads to the preconception that their music must be akin to their city brethren in Bloodbath, Dismember, Entombed and Unleashed. But with a vocalist in Claes Nordin, who sounds a lot like At the Gates’ Tomas Lindberg, thrashy guitar riffs in the style of Hatesphere, and overall the sort of brutal tone that deathcore is famous for, Mass Worship are not a direct product of their home scene. The first few tracks to which we are treated have a slow to mid-tempo, but whatever grooves or melodies there might be in them are sadly lost to an unforgiving rhythm section that drowns everything else in the mix. In terms of becoming familiar with, and perhaps even a fan of Mass Worship, we are off to a difficult start then, and it is not until the faster fourth track that any notable headbanging or other appreciative demeanour is seen in the audience. “We have been waiting 18 months to play this concert”, declares Nordin after it winds to an end — but honestly, nothing about the group’s dime-a-dozen antics on stage exudes catharsis.

Grim stares, staunch poses and frequent bouts of headbanging, these are the backbone of Mass Worship’s performance, and while it all looks quite imposing and even manages to spawn a small moshpit during a tapped guitar solo in the fifth song — a somewhat djenty, groovy offering, which reminds me of Whitechapel — it is not raising any hairs on me. I could start listing one death/thrash metal hybrid after the other that looks, sounds and performs exactly like this crew and you would be asleep before I reached the halfway mark… although in Mass Worship’s defence, I will admit that the bits of material off their upcoming album “Portal Tombs” (out in early 2022) that are aired seem promising; they are more intense, contain more melodic inlays, and come across as better written than the older stuff. It is no surprise then, that these are also the tracks that draw the biggest reactions from the audience. I get the feeling that there is much more to come from this newish outfit and make a mental note to check out “Portal Tombs” when it arrives next year, but as far as their show tonight goes, it is far from enthralling.

5

BAEST

BAEST enter the stage to the tune of grandiose intro music befitting their status as one of the most revered metal acts in Denmark right now, grinning and throwing satisfied glances over the 600-strong audience as they take their positions. This has always been one of the things that make the band special: the five musicians never look particularly severe despite the raw and crushing style of the death metal they play. Indeed, once “Genesis” off the group’s third and latest studio album “Necro Sapiens” is unleashed to kick the concert off, one immediately notices that BAEST are not afraid of showing that they’re having a blast, with each member flashing ludicrous expressions, sticking their tongue out and in general looking more festive than you would normally expect from musicians in this genre in between their headbanging and windmilling bouts. Vocalist Simon Olsen is especially animated, using every pedestal available to him to hover over and exert dominance over the subjects of his thrall. And around him, the two guitarists, Lasse Revsbech & Svend Karlsson, take turns in twisting and jumping across the stage, their axes in full swing churning out the buzzsaw riffs in tracks like “Vitriol Lament” from 2019’s “Venenum”.

The slow and doom ridden “Gula” provides a moment of respite before the crowd is briefly tricked into thinking BAEST might deliver a cover of Slayer’s classic “Raining Blood” by virtue of the drums that lead into “Goregasm”. But judging by the large and intense moshpit that opens for it, they may as well have ripped out that thrash metal rager, and in general the almost fanatical support BAEST are shown by most people here tonight draws more than one parallel to the Bay Area legends. The likes of “Atra Mors” (off 2018’s “Danse Macabre”) and “Purification through Mutilation” simply ooze power, and they are always backed by enthralling showmanship from not just one, but all of the five musicians, with not a moment of stillness to be experienced during the 75 minutes or so that this concert lasts. Of course none of this would even matter were it not for the razor sharp mix conjured by the sound technician on duty; everything is coming across with the same clarity and brutality that is the hallmark of BAEST’s records — a vital factor that is all too often a major hindrance for death metal bands trying to sound as devastating as possible. No, there is virtually nothing to criticise this Århusian death metal quintet for tonight, and as I’m watching Olsen flying around the stage, growling his gospel during the aforementioned “Purification through Mutilation”, I am taken back to their awe-inspiring performance at Copenhell in the summer of 2019, where the band broke the festival’s record for the most crowd surfers ever witnessed during a single concert.

Crowd surfing is not quite as much a staple of tonight’s show although a few patrons do attempt it when fan favourites like “Meathook Massacre” and the standout “Crosswhore” are delivered. Olsen himself seizes the opportunity to do so during the invigorating “Sea of Vomit” much to the welcome of the audience, but overall it is the incessantly churning moshpit, not to mention the at times ska-like bouncing and skipping around the stage by the five musicians that steals the focus. Contrary to Mass Worship before, it is also blatantly obvious how pumped BAEST are about their long-due return to the live setting, with every member standing up and roaring at the audience to rile us up into an ever-increasing frenzy. The band does not come across quite as commanding as at the aforementioned festival show, which was the last time I got to see them live before everything was shut down, but still, once the titular “Necro Sapiens” has brought things to a conclusion, there is absolutely no question that BAEST remain one of the most formidable metal bands in Denmark, on stage as well as off it. In a testimony to this, I note down that only the iconic Morbid Angel has succeeded in having as much clout over a metal crowd in this venue before — and honestly, there are a lot of similarities in the way this Danish five-piece and their Floridian colleagues bring themselves across in the live setting. Pure domination.

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Genesis
  • 02. Czar
  • 03. Vitriol Lament
  • 04. Gula
  • 05. Goregasm
  • 06. Wormlord
  • 07. Atra Mors
  • 08. Marie (Magdalene)
  • 09. Purification through Mutilation
  • 10. Abattoir
  • 11. Towers of Suffocation
  • 12. Meathook Massacre
  • 13. Sea of Vomit
  • 14. Crosswhore

— Encore —

  • 15. Necro Sapiens

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