(Andy Synn wrote the following review of the new album by the Danish band Bæst, which will be released on March 5th by Century Media.)
Despite my many years writing, reviewing, and prognosticating about Metal – whether for NCS or Terrorizer or whoever – I still don’t really understand how the hype machine works.
Why does one band get big and another, doing the exact same thing (sometimes even better) not?
What makes one particular style of music suddenly explode in popularity while others seem destined to linger in obscurity?
And what, pray tell, does it take to get your voice heard over the deafening hype hurricane?
You see, ever since they released their first album (2018’s Danse Macabre) I’ve been practically yelling from the literal rooftops about how great Bæst are – easily the equal of your Blood Incantations, your Tomb Molds, or whoever else you might want to mention – and I’ve only gotten louder since they released the even better Venenum in 2019.
So, with the imminent release of the group’s third album, I think it’s high time people came round to the fact that Bæst are simply one of the all-round best bands in Death Metal.
If this is your first exposure to the band, then be prepared to have your neck wrecked and your face melted by just under forty-five minutes of lean, mean, prime-cut metallic meat whose blend of rampaging, riff-driven power, gruesome, gut-churning grooves, and pounding percussive artillery pays tribute to many of the genre’s greats – from Bloodbath to Blood Red Throne, Cannibal Corpse to Dismember – while still stamping the band’s own instantly recognisable identity onto every track.
In this sense it’s not that much different from the band’s first two albums, both of which also straddled this divide between the “Old” and “New” schools of Death Metal without apology or excuse, and both of which I’d recommend you go out and purchase as soon as you’ve finished reading this review.
But it’s immediately, and extremely, apparent – right from the moment that anticipation-building intro “The Forge” gives way to the brutally bombastic strains of “Genesis” – that Necro Sapiens is a far smarter, far sharper, and (dare I say it) far more subtle record than either of its predecessors.
That’s not to say it’s not still crammed with stupidly heavy riffs and big, dumb, sickeningly fun hooks (just wait until you hear the insanely infectious title track, or the pounding rhythmic assault of “Sea of Vomit”, for example), nor is it to downplay how utterly vicious, not to mention surprisingly technical, it can be (“Towers of Suffocation” in particular is a frenetic, finger-snapping monster, while “Meathook Massacre” might just be the gnarliest, nastiest, thing the band have ever done).
But it’s often the subtler moments of smart songwriting (such as how the slow-motion stomp of “Czar” gradually evolves into a paroxysm of manic blasturbation almost without you noticing, or the way that the endlessly mutagenic metallic dynamic of “Goregasm” keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat for the entirety of the song’s six minute run time) as well as the increasingly prominent (and deliciously evil) melodic touches littered throughout the record, which make these songs really work.
And, it’s worth pointing out, that’s exactly what this album is made up of. Songs. Living, breathing, fully fleshed-out songs, each one a unique (and uniquely ugly) combination of meat and marrow, skin and sinew, all fully capable of standing, loudly and proudly, on their own, but which all clearly share a common bloodline.
Of course, I’d argue that their songwriting has always been the key element which has elevated Bæst above and beyond the rest of the competition, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to see/hear how they’ve managed to refine their signature style even further here, it’s just frustrating that so many people have yet to discover all that this band have to offer.
Still, maybe Necro Sapiens will change that.
And maybe now, finally, people will realise that you can’t spell Bæst without “best”.