It must be difficult to be a new death metal band. In a subgenre where originality or innovation is less important than with many others, it can be tempting to stick with the tried-and-true acts who’ve already proved themselves, and who the newer crop will most likely be emulating anyway to get their feet on the ground. Still, it’s always impressive how much of a community feel death metal has when fostering new talent, willing to give these new bands a shot regardless of size. That seems to be the case with Denmark’s Baest who, after a decently-received demo and EP, have already performed at significant European festivals like Copenhell and Roskilde, as well as developing a formidable live reputation even for such an early stage.
With that, Danse Macabre comes at a good time for Baest to grow even further, and while not quite as good as the Ghost masterpiece of the same (albeit differently-spelled) name, there’s really no reason why this won’t appeal to ardent death metal fans looking for something new to get their teeth into. Even if “new” mightn’t be the most apt word in this situation – besides the gently-plucked acoustic interlude Ritual, Baest really aren’t deviating from a death metal formula that’s long been set in stone – there’s little to complain about here as far as a ferocious, pummeling assault goes, and at just over half-an-hour long, there’s really no reason not to at least give it a shot.
And besides, it’s not as if there’s even a chance that Danse Macabre won’t appeal to the audience that Baest are clearly after. Guitars are rough and gnarled enough to bathe in their own darkness while still being well-produced, and a notable thrash influence on Atra Mors and Messe Macabre lends an urgency that’s so deeply rooted in classic genre sounds for some extra firepower. Of course, Baest are at their best when developing their own sound (relatively), and with the tar-thick grooves that power opener Crosswhore, they’re able to pick up on a direction that’s definitely worth exploring further. It’s all kind of standard stuff, all things considered, but it’s played with the sort of hunger that makes it tough to chastise Baest too harshly.
And there’s not really much else to say otherwise; at only eight tracks long, it’s pretty short already, and Baest sticking rather rigidly to their mould doesn’t exactly help matters. For what’s here though, Danse Macabre is some incredibly solid work, doing exactly what it needs to make a first impression that’s likely to stick around a lot longer. Given the evidence, it’s little wonder that Baest have already begun to make their name around Europe, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world’s metal scenes follow suit.
For fans of: Entombed, Morbid Angel, Skeletal Remains
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Danse Macabre’ by Baest is released on 17th August on Century Media.