Danish aggressors Baest talk classic death metal, touring with Decapitated and getting s*** done
Listening to the pulverising aggression and intensely visceral, gargling horror that oozes from every pitch-black pore of Baest’s deliciously deathly being, it’s hard to imagine that, fewer than four years ago, this Danish wrecking crew was little more than a Bloodbath fanboy’s distant, seemingly unattainable dream. Having already inked a deal with international label giant Century Media and shared stage space with Polish genre titans Decapitated, it seems things are moving at a bewildering pace for these uber-talented newcomers. On the night that saw the soon-to-be-great Danes stopping off for the London leg of their first major touring cycle, bassist Mattias Melchiorsen and guitarist Lasse Mørch Revsbech took a rare quiet moment to reflect on what’s already been a momentous 2019.
It’s approximately 8.15pm in the capital and the narrow, labyrinthine corridors of the Islington O2 are audibly buzzing with the joyously excitable afterglow of Baest’s blistering London debut. Beyond a sad little cordoned-off square of concrete that passes for an outdoor smoking area, a short walk from the crowded venue and its rigidly patrolled main entrance takes us to a tell-tale line of white tour vans. Behind the windscreen of one nestle two sizeably majestic goat skulls, each one proudly gleaming and resplendent in all its ghoulishly iconic glory, before we’re beckoned inside by guitarists Lasse and Mattias in a manner rather amusingly reminiscent of a B-horror movie.
“We boiled the flesh off them ourselves,” beams bass player Mattias with almost fatherly pride, casting an affectionate glance in the direction of the aforementioned ghoulish artefacts.
“They came from this small farming place we know,” Lasse adds. “They’d slaughtered some goats for eating and had obviously discarded the skulls, so we asked, ‘Do you still have those skulls?’ and they said ‘Yeah, but we dug them down,’ and we said ‘Okay, no problem,’ and immediately went and dug them up. Our first music video was actually inspired by that.”
Teaming these classic, deathly aesthetics with madly energised stints of ultra-violence and intensely sinister, grave-scented atmospherics, few bands so richly embody the festering essence of the genre more thoroughly than these youthful, technically skilled aggressors. Spawned out of a fanatical collective fixation with genre icons Death and Bloodbath in the summer of 2015, the pair vividly recall the precise moment they first set about making their long dreamed-about ambitions a tangible reality.
“Me and our vocalist Sven [Karlsson] met at a bar and I was wearing a Death t-shirt,” guitarist Lasse recalls. “We kind of knew each other but had never really talked before. I knew that he was playing guitar and he knew that I was playing guitar and I kind of said, like, ‘Hey, I just started playing guitar again. I had a break and now I really want to play death metal,’ because obviously that’s the t-shirts we wear a lot and the music we listen to.”
Mattias elaborates, “And that was in the spring, I guess, back in 2015 and then I was asked to be the bass player. We actually knew each other from being in the same class at school before they asked me to join the band. Anyway, we had a trip to Copenhell that summer and saw Bloodbath standing there in the front row. And then I think we knew, at that moment, that that was the music we wanted to play from then on.”
“Ah yes, that was it,” reminisces Lasse with a smile. “It started with Death and then Bloodbath became the favourite thing we wanted to play. At one point, we were like, fuck it, we have to do it this and thankfully it all came together for us in the end before we performed our debut concert in April 2016.”
But for all Baest’s reverential nods to these genre-defining heavyweights, 2018 debut ‘Danse Macabre’ equally abounds with the unmistakable sound of band rapidly carving out an identity that’s quite distinctively and assuredly their own. And from the lacerating, painstakingly complex fretwork of ‘Atra Mors’ to the churning, blackly expansive throes of ‘Crosswhore’, it’s no surprise that these deliciously vicious compositions stem from a place of pure, unbridled spontaneity.
Lasse expands: “It usually starts with me or Sven writing a guitar riff and then we sit down and kind of evolve that riff together, and if it’s a really good riff then that inspires us to combine it with other riffs and some main parts and stuff. Then, when we feel we have enough material, we take it to the other guys and say, ‘This is going to be good’ and then we all enter the songwriting process together. We have a lot of riffs out there and it’s important, I think, that we always have one rehearsal a week.
“So we’re just always in the process of writing,” concludes Mattias. “We really are.”
And despite the gruelling demands of an increasingly hectic schedule, it seems these intensified external pressures have only further motivated this relentlessly active and energised creative unit. Tipped for a release just a year following ‘Danse Macabre’, it’s with keen and eager anticipation that the duo look ahead to what promises to be momentous leap forward in this fledgling act’s ever-continued musical progression.
Mattias recalls, “In the fall we had the Denmark tour, so we were close to home but only had the weekends free to write the new material, so we had very little time in which to make it happen. It’s certainly been an intense December.”
“We were like, shit, man,” Lasse continues. “Now we have to get it done at the start of January, but that kind of set-up for us is really when the magic happens - when we work under hard and constant pressure. On the new record, I think one of the songs we wrote last is one of the best and we are really looking forward to sharing that one with the world. Ultimately, you can sit around and polish and polish, but if you don’t get it out there, it just doesn’t exist, so pull yourself together and take some chances. Get some fucking shit done!”