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  • Review by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: Baest @ The Black Heart, London

“It’s a little damp in here, isn’t it?” gasps Baest’s gloriously guttural frontman Simon Olsen, his breathing audibly laboured following an exceptionally savage outpouring of corrosive, larynx-shredding screams. And with a densely rammed mass of profusely sweating bodies all but vacuum-packed into the Black Heart’s dingy, windowless attic venue, it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate backdrop for tonight’s brutally energised revelries than the breathlessly humid, swamp-like surroundings in which we presently find ourselves.

Amassing a colossal turn-out tonight that speaks volumes for their ever-rising profile as one of the most enticingly primal, riff-laden fixtures of the European extreme scene, ‘Ecclesia’ triggers an instant, joyously unhinged frenzy among fans. With its frantically pummelling snares, diaphragm-rupturing snarls and wolvish lashings of tremolo transforming the venue into a raging tsunami of wildly flailing limbs and hair, it’s mere moments before a wall of death abruptly bisects the crowd, punters crashing and colliding into one another like atoms in an exceptionally violent chemical reaction. Spliced together with a tantalisingly unhurried slew of lurching, delectably scabrous grooves that palpably reek of decay, there’s no shortage of intriguing tonal shifts and tempo changes to be found within the band’s vicious yet intelligently layered repertoire.

Indeed, above a densely muscled undertow of tombstone-heavy groove and ceaselessly hammering snares, every viciously bristling inch of genre-crossing standout ‘Gargoyles’ audibly crackles with compositional ingenuity. Underpinning an engrossing wealth of dissonant, nightmarishly contorted twin guitars, airily lacerating tremolo and dizzying crescendos of luxuriantly unfurling riffery, theirs is a relentlessly hostile assault on the senses. But beyond Baest’s razor-keen technical prowess and the bone-shattering levels of aggression being exhibited here in breathlessly energised abundance, it’s perhaps the Danish aggressors’ infectious sense of fun that makes for such a wildly entertaining spectacle. Particularly, we might add, at the precise moment that frontman Olson leaps down off the stage and into the thick of the deliriously euphoric crowd now encircling him in excitable, faintly Romero-esque fashion.

Having been rapidly engulfed by the demented frenzy of motion that ensues from the second ‘Necro Sapiens’ kicks off in a propulsive implosion of battering staccato, the vocalist lets loose a bloodcurdling slew of guttural snarls as a snaking configuration of low-slung riffage unravels to intensely sinister effect. And from lithe, scalpel-keen licks that soar to stratospheric heights through to a smattering of anthemic “Woahs” and mesmeric strains of coldly abrasive tremolo, Baest have once again delivered a set that’s as darkly engrossing and visceral as it is teeming with audible joie de vivre.


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