Both albums quickly established a sound reminiscent of classic death metal acts. “Opeth is a big influence as their discography is vast and very diverse, as is Bloodbath,” vocalist Simon explained to Distorted Sound during the promotion of Danse Macabre. “Entombed is also one of our biggest influences in terms of tone and style.” This vast melting pot of influences has, in a way, become BAEST’s USP.
Their third full-length, Necro Sapiens, is a concept album based in part on George Orwell’s 1984. “Necro Sapiens are created by the Czar, a totalitarian leader who can take on different identities and philosophy,” the band explain. “He’s creating this slave-race and slaughtering them... they’ve been stripped of all freedom.”
It’s not the most outlandish concept, and their most general influences – horror, dystopia, Carcass’ seminal album Heartwork – are basically a pick ‘n’ mix of inspiration that all death metal bands dip their hand into at some point or another. But there are a lot of interesting musical specifics to be found within their work too that prove BAEST haven’t ditched their love of reworking their many influences.
BAEST vocalist Simon Olsen has a gruff tone reminiscent of Bloodbath’s Peter Tägtgren, capable of both sharp grunts and melodic screams. ‘Meathook Massacre’ is filled with reverberating chants and an almost folky triplet feel that should feel familiar to Amon Amarth fans. ‘Czar’ is a classic piece of death metal that borrows heavily from the Morbid Angel toolbox.
‘Genesis’ morphs from its doom-laden intro into crushing heaviness characterised by strict drums and wandering rhythmic riffs. ‘Goregasm’ – despite its title paying homage to Cannibal Corpse – is arguably the most far-reaching track on the album. A hauntingly isolated bass drum creates an atmospheric eeriness in the opening moments, but we actually end up with the band’s most melodic tune to date.
‘Abattoir’ is another example of BAEST’s sound modernising and finding its own unique space, particularly through the work of drummer Sebastian Abildsten. Psychedelic effects juxtapose the aggression of his playing, which seamlessly wanders into its own funky territory when necessary. At the same time, he proves that furious blast beats aren’t always a must-have accessory. He spends a good portion of the track letting the rest of his band do its thing while he hangs back on the ride cymbal, only bringing the snare drum in once per bar. It’s probably the highlight of the release.
Necro Sapiens is proof that the line between being powered by the influence of the greats and developing a unique sound can be blurred. In this record, we get something so familiar its almost recognisable, as well as something that is moving in its own rather exciting direction.
Necro Sapiens out March 5th, 2021
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