REVIEW: BAEST – “Necro Sapiens”
The Old School Death Metal revival continues to grow, with bands like Tomb Mold, Gatecreeper, Spectral Voice, Carnation, Witch Vomit, Blood Incantation, and several others forming a firm foundation. This genre is a perfect counterweight to the slew of over-produced, over-the-top brutal, million-notes-a-second modern death metal which crowd the market. Danish bruisers Baest can safely be added to the list of OSDM greats, with yet another solid release, 2021’s Necro Sapiens.
Necro Sapiens is Baest’s third album in three years, which goes a long way in proving that this band is a workhorse. At ten tracks, this isn’t a measly offering either. Kickin off with the ominous “The Forge” and getting straight to business with “Genesis”, Baest lumbers in like its namesake lumbering beast with a mid-tempo melodic passages, before ramping up the double-bass and getting out the Entombed-era Finnish death metal buzz-saw tremolo picked riffs. Title track “Necro Sapiens” was a fantastic choice of an advanced single, as it is a perfect track to champion the band and the record. Groovy, buzzy tremolo picked riffs, with interlocked double bass, melodic harmonies, the title track has it all. The track also flirts with blackened open-chord passages a la Sweden’s Dismember. Another reviewer favorite is “Abbatoir” which kicks off with a flanged drum solo, before hopping the line between headbang inducing slow chugs and tapped goodness. “Abbatoir” is a prime example of the skill with which Baest chooses to handle pace, tempo, and arranges their tracks to not wallow in one phase for too long. One moment you’re in a head-bobbing groove, then you’re tugged into a blast-beat section, and then into a HM-2 buzzsaw riff with stable double bass, and so on. “Goregasm” , via its name has to be homage to the band Gorgasm, yet the track is straight Akerfeld-era Bloodbath, with its almost upbeat tempo drum lines.
There is no shortage of brutality on Necro Sapiens, with track names like “Towers of Suffocation”, “Purification Through Mutilation”, “Meathook Massacre”, and “Sea of Vomit”. Any of these track names could be mistaken for a Cannibal Corpse set-list, and it suits Baest’s chosen aesthetic well. “Meathook Massacre” is a particularly fast-paced track, and is a great direction where Baest is head; a great amalgamation of OSDM and modern death metal nuances, familiar to both, yet alienating none. Props to drummer Sebastian Abildsen for writing those absolutely bludgeoning lines in album closer “Sea of Vomit”. The start-stop chugs, along with the gnarled vocals, and rumbling drums keeps the tenth track of a relentless record, surprisingly enjoyable. We need more “Necro Sapiens”, “Meathook Massacre” and “Sea of Vomit” level of intensity in future Baest releases.
It would be tough to find any glaring faults with any of the musicianship or the production on Necro Sapiens. Baest seems to have captured the essence of OSDM Swedish and Finnish death metal songs, tweaking the nostalgic lo-fi sounds to fit more modern production means. Guitarists Lasse Revsbech and Svend Karlsson have evidently spent time studying their influences, weaving in and out of different tempos, tremolo picked, stop-start chugs, melodic passages, and razor sharp solos. Baest handles transitions between different tempos and passages with the mature grace that belies their relative newness to the scene. Every review of past Baest records never fails to mention this, and for good reason, but vocalist Simon Olsen has a vocal clarity that is at the highest levels in the genre. His vocal lines never lack in grit, or growl, yet never descend into muddy incoherence. There are times where it would be easy to mistake his vocals to Mikael Akerfeldt (ex-Bloodbath, Opeth), and that is as high as praise gets.
Baest does a lot of things very well, and hold true to their genre, while adding their own flair ever so often. Unfortunately, these innovative passages are few and far between and get lost in the majority of “been there, heard that”, especially for the more experienced consumers of this genre. One could argue, that it is preferable to use fewer tools, than try to bite off more than you can chew. Yet with the constant barrage of new content and ever-decreasing attention-span of metal consumers, Baest could get lost in the crowd if there isn’t significant thought put into the next release, in terms of carving a more distinct “voice”.
Necro Sapiens is a no-nonsense record that does everything that it set out to do. It is a solid slab of death metal, crisp, brutal, catchy, and takes notes from the greats. Baest could easily have existed in the classical era of death metal if this record is any example. A band to follow with keen interest.