Notes From Underground

Album Review: BAEST – Danse Macabre

Century Media Records | 17 August 2018

baestPerhaps living at the epicenter of the oncoming mega-storm hurricane looming along the coast, spiraling to bring doom to all like some Lovecraftian Sumerian demon from the sea has waxed this reviewer pensive. That could be stretching it a bit, but not so much if one were to watch the news or to take a look at how all the stores in the area are out of practically everything including gas, bread, water, and most of the good flavors of Doritos. With jesting and personal monologue taken aside, the point that was intended to be led in to previously is that we are lucky for having Heavy Metal. Along the way, this genre could have broken off into something else or failed entirely were it not for the colorful and varied people who comprise it. A few years ago, it became apparent in a widespread sense by virtue of the influx of bands, how many musicians have been truly influenced profoundly by Swedish Death Metal. Seeing Entombed over twenty years ago, I can attest to the brutality and sinister riffing conveyed in the live setting by the founders of the movement. It does seem strange that bands are now classified by a sound attained by a specific guitar pedal such as the Boss HM-2. While I concede all of the bands have similar guitar tone, it’s just an anomalous phenomenon compared to other ways of classification. Baest, the band that is central to this review, is most definitely one of those bands as it is even spelled out in the band’s press bio. Despite this quick qualification, Baest rise to the occasion by using the sickest of riffs to maintain a groove that is thus essential to their sound. It turns out that this groove is more than sufficient to keep the listener tuned in to the album.

It is certainly clear why they chose to use “Crosswhore” as the lead single for the album for it is groovy, catchy, and brutal at the same time. The song opens with a Hypocrisy-like, slow Death Metal groove, and though the song does have its twists and turns, highlighted by a crawling slide-riff leading into tremolo picking, the initial crawl serves as its diabolical home base. One cannot help but empathize with my moments-ago reaction of almost full-on punching the computer monitor from the gripping brutality demonstrated in the final blasting section. Whatever the singer says when the music drops for his ultra-quick barking monologue must be epically Metal. How could it not be when Baest are following all the rules in their own way for Extreme Metal. Does that make the band boring?

The answer simply is no. This is evidenced by the third track, the title track which opens with a quite beautiful classical guitar intro. Throughout the album thus far, Baest have demonstrated their penchant for contrasting blasting, grinding riffs with über slow, dense swampy parts. These slow parts, though, seem to be where the band’s gift for writing the sickest riffs lies.

On the final track, “Ego te Absolvo,” the band makes a final, bombastic stand. Beginning with a medium groove, the band soon changes direction to a faster tremolo grind. When the first riff returns for the chorus, the drum fills convey so much originality and finely-tooled Metal intent that they exist almost as a percussive response to the gravelly vocals. The drums just hit back quickly with a dual jab. The true highlight is the last couple of minutes with the last groove melodically laid down by the band.

In many ways, Baest is a good band to use to introduce Metal fans that are new to this end of the genre. There is certainly that underlying groove that all would find themselves at least nodding to. While the band is not looking to reinvent the wheel, they have taken the box of a genre to use as a springboard rather than a container. Ultimately, despite allusions to Entombed, Dismember, and Grave, there is a unifying mission to exploit Heavy Metal by way of a tightly-locked percussion, chilling and crushing riffs and dry lung vocals. The listener cannot help but become wrapped up in that missions as well. What more could a musician ask for?

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