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Baest Discusses New Album "Venenum," Love Of Old School Death Metal, Concepts And More

Death metal has proved to be one of the most popular sub-genres of metal over the years. It seems you can't even get out of bed nowadays without tripping over a death metal band. Don't let this deter you however, there's as many great death metal groups today as there was during the young days of Morbid Angel and Obituary, from all over the world and with their own take on the style. One such band to burst on to the scene and immediately get tongues wagging hails from Aarhus, Denmark, armed with fresh ideas and an old school mentality. That band is Baest.

At the first stop of the Hell Over Europe tour in London, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Baest guitarist Svend Karlsson and vocalist Simon Olsen to discuss their new sophomore album, "Venenum," which was released only a year after their debut, "Danse Macabre," why concepts are such a big part of the band, how to make old sound new again and much more. You can check it out in full below.

Diamond Oz: Welcome to London. Is this your first time in the UK?

Svend Karlsson: No, we did a tour with Decapitated. *calls for Simon to join the interview*

Simon Olsen: Oh shoot!

Svend: Yeah we did a UK tour with Decapitated in January, we played the 02 Academy in Islington.

Oz: Cool. Well obviously the new "Venenum" is out now. I was listening to as much of it as I could before I buy it. How would you say it's different from "Danse Macabre"?

Svend: There's been some involvement in the song writing. We've been trying to make it a bit more progressive and trying to make the lyrics fit better to the actual riffs.

Simon: Yeah, I guess so and I believe that we've also worked a lot with the concept and writing music after the concept, not just the lyrics, so it's like it fits together better.

Svend: For example, the song "Gula" is about gluttony and over indulgence, so we made it really slow and really heavy, so that's a great example. "Vitriol Lament," the first song is about...

Simon: The whirlwind of lust! The circle of lust, so it has a very hectic, kind of swirling opening riff.

Oz: I noticed when I was listening to the different tracks that they're all very different, which makes a lot more sense now that you've described the concept and it goes into the artwork as well.

Svend: It's actually a continuation of the first album, "Danse Macabre." That was about the journey from life to death and this is the journey through Hell and what happens at the bottom of Hell. Actually, there's a book coming out, as well as a podcast. We've been working with a writer called Richard Galbraith (?) from London, we wrote a novel which is coming out in December and a podcast and audiobook with new music composed just for the book is coming out as well.

Simon: It's a short story and there will be a podcast as well.

Oz: Cool. Are concepts something that you want to stick with for as long as Baest is around or do you think there'll come a time when you take a more general approach?

Simon: As long as we feel comfortable with it.

Svend: We talked about not having a strict concept for album number three. Maybe just writing a bunch of riffs and listening to what it may sound like. We had this concept idea for a long time and so we wrote towards it but maybe it's time the concept has to revolve around the songs. We don't know yet, we're not allowed to write any new songs! But to be honest, I've written three.

Simon: Naughty boy!

Oz: It's only a year since "Danse Macabre" came out. Like you say, "Venenum" follows on concept wise. Was the plan from the beginning to have this, almost companion piece, follow so quickly afterwards?

Svend: Actually, the day we finished recording "Danse Macabre," me and Lasse (Revsbech, guitars,) we're the main song writers, we were walking to get some food and celebrate that we were done when we decided that the next album should be about Inferno, since we ended the first album at the gates of Heaven. So we agreed right there. We already had some songs written so we went on tour and recorded it in between the two tours with Decapitated and now it's out.

Oz: There seems to be a lot of interest in bands from Denmark at the moment. There's yourselves, Myrkur, a great new band called Konvent... What's in the water in Denmark at the moment to spur some of the great up and coming metal bands?

Svend: I think a lot of speed going on. Not the drug, well maybe the drug as well but we're moving fast and going upwards and I think other bands see this and do the same, so we feel the pressure and see what other artists do. For example, Cabal from Copenhagen just toured in the U.S. so now want to go to the U.S. now, so everyone keeps inspiring each other and having a nice competition. It's very inspiring to be a part of, for a death metal guy because the scene in Copenhagen is so fucking disgusting.

Simon: I guess also, Denmark has been in the shadows of Norway and Sweden but right now we're getting the spotlight that we deserve. There's just a lot of good spirit and good will in people to make an effort with their work.

Oz: I think there's always been great stuff coming out of Denmark, not just music but movies from directors like Lars von Trier and Nicolas Winding Refn, as well a history of great artists.

Svend: There's nice artist support in Denmark as well. You can apply for funds, we were lucky enough to get a shit load of money for the "Danse Macabre" album, which helps pay for this tour and for us to be able to write that money songs so quickly. That wouldn't have been possible without that support.

Oz: Obviously Baest is very much steeped in old school death metal. It's interesting because it is very much old school but it's not a carbon copy, unlike say ten years ago when the thrash revival was going on but everyone just sounded like "Reign In Blood." How have you been able to take that style of death metal and make it sound fresh and modern?

Svend: I think, we all love old school death metal but a lot of new stuff as well. Before I listened to old school death metal I was a huge fan of Opeth and then I found Bloodbath and Entombed. We try to write riffs which make us laugh and enjoyable to play, instead of having to make them as grim and evil as possible. We do that as well, but we don't think it's that funny so we just try to make riffs which are really fun to play.

Oz: That very much goes along with how Entombed have approached writing, they've always been a really fun band.

Svend: Yes and here's the drummer from Entombed! *converses briefly with Entombed A.D. drummer Olle Dahlstedt*

Oz: You played Copenhell this year as well, was that your first time there?

Svend: No we played there in 2017 as well. Actually we played Copenhell and Roskilde in 2017 and Copenhell and Roskilde this year as well.

Oz: Have you got any festivals lined up for next year yet?

Svend: We do but we can't tell anyone yet.

Oz: Just finally then is there anything else happening with Baest in 2020? Do you think that with all the momentum you've got that there'll be another album out next year?

Svend: We'll for sure start recording the album next year. I think we'd like to wait a little bit because we barely managed to tour with "Danse Macabre" and now we're touring with the new album, "Venenum," so we want to tour a bit more with this album and maybe have a longer writing process for number three because we haven't tried taking a longer time to write an album before.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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