(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the Czech band Baestien, which was released on December 6th by Alerta Antifascista Records.)
As you may have noticed (or maybe not, I don’t know how much attention people really pay to my comings and goings around here) I’ve been reasonably absent from NCS for the last couple of weeks.
The reason for this is quite simple, as I decided to take some time off to relax and recharge over the Christmas/New Year period, and in fact spent the last week enjoying the sights and sounds (and, especially, the flavours) of Prague in the Czech Republic.
And while I’m probably going to continue being relatively quiet here for the foreseeable future (I’ve got vocals to record, as well as a fair bit of work to catch up on at my day job), I couldn’t resist giving a quick write-up to Ritual, the latest release from Czech quartet Baestien, which I fortuitously stumbled across the day after I returned home.
The two tracks which make up this release – each over fifteen minutes in length – blend together aspects and elements from several different styles, Post-Metal and Hardcore, Black Metal and Crust Punk, with a little bit of Doom and/or Drone influence for good measure, in a way that recalls the similarly cathartic concoctions of bands like Downfall of Gaia, Ancst, and King Apathy.
And while this means that Baestien aren’t necessarily breaking any new ground here, it would be a mistake to dismiss all that Ritual has to offer, as both “Malum” and “Metus” are rich in aggression and emotion and bleak, brooding atmosphere.
The former builds slowly, developing from a sombre, slow-burn intro into a churning maelstrom of clanging chords and crunching riffs, howling vocals and heaving drums, interspersed here and there with moments of brittle, icy ambience which only serve to enhance song’s oppressive weight.
The latter, by contrast, kicks in hard with an array of heavy, hanging chords and chunky, chugging riffs, all interwoven with passages of tremolo-driven tension and punchy, punkish energy, all building towards an unexpectedly majestic peak at around the ten-minute mark, after which it descends into immersive, atmospheric introspection for its final few minutes.
But while both songs certainly make their mark individually, Ritual is, of course, best heard, and best appreciated, as one continuous whole, and engaging with it in its entirety, every towering peak and moody valley, is vital to getting the most out of the experience.