Reviewed: [June 2022]
Released [2022 Century Media Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Danish brutes Baest delivered a fittingly monstrous third album with Necro Sapiens in March 2021, then had to sit home like most other bands and wait out the ceaseless waves of coronavirus variants until it was “safe” to tour again. And now that it is apparently is – although Covid continues to interrupt or shut down tours left and right – Baest is looking to build some lost momentum with a new EP before it gets back out there.
Featuring four new tracks, a cover and an instrumental version of the Necro Sapiens track “Genesis,” Justitia is certainly an attention-getter thanks to guest appearances by Aborted frontman Sven de Caluwe and recently deceased Black Dahlia Murder vocalist Trevor Strnad. But even without their contributions, Justitia proves to be just as, well, beastly as Necro Sapiens.
Recalling Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower and Entombed all kinda rolled into one with their combination of imposing heaviness, abrasive, heaving riffs and juggernaut tempos, all topped by Simon Olsen’s commanding roar, the quintet deliver a wall of sound that surges and ebbs, but never abates. The title track opens things with a moody, anthemic trudge a la “Where The Slime Lives” as Olsen and Sven de Caluwe trade low and lower growls over the thundering swells of Lasse Revsbech and Svend Karlsson guitar and Sebastian Abildsten’s slog and gallop drumming.
The epic “Ecclesia” takes a similar musical approach, but stretches the arrangement to nearly eight minutes and counters the lumbering death metal with Maiden-like guitar interplay and melodies. There’s even some clean-ish harmony vocals in spots, but they are wisely kept well in the background and add a little more depth without coming off as cliched.
“Gargolyes” kicks up both the tempo and the technicality – and echoes the opening notes of Slayer’s “South Of Heaven” during the bridges – while bringing some shrill to the mix in Strand’s screeching guest vocals. It makes for a solid one-two with the equally bracing, but more deliberate “Creature,” which boasts some of the EP’s mightiest hooks.
Baest give their cover of Entombed A.D.’s “Second to None” the scraggly, ragged crunch it deserves, and Olsen proves an able mimic for the late great L.G. Petrov’s throaty bark. It’s an unusual, or at least unlikely choice, but hats off to these guys for not going the more obvious route and simply knocking off something from Left Hand Path.
“Genesis,” which is labeled as a bonus track but is included on just about every format, near as I can tell, has an “Orion” like quality to it as it builds and builds and sounds great without vocals, almost as if it was meant to be an instrumental in the first place. Regardless, it gives the band a chance to show their chops without Olsen’s considerable presence but maintains its original structure to still give it plenty of impact.
While there are plenty of dog’s breakfast collections being tossed out as fresh product as bands hit the road anew and en masse, Justitia is a engaging, purposeful release that justifies its high-profile guest appearances with decent, and definitely very heavy, material. Given Strand’s suicide, there is more of a “tribute” element to the EP than the band might have planned, but sadly there isn’t much these guys could do about that.