Another one of those stupid April days where the weather can’t decide between rain, sun, general cloudiness or falling murderous icicles. But there was another force of nature at play on Sunday, the 24th of April to which we’ll get to later. It was also Election day here in Slovenia and tickets for the show have been kindly paid for by the rightist government (who lost quite badly in the day’s election) and who would absolutely love me spending the money on some death metal heathenry.
The area in front of Ljubljana’s Orto bar was already filled with small groups of metalheads despite the rather early start of 7:10 – it had to be finished by 10PM otherwise the neighbours get whiny on a Sunday, I was told. A quick check through the election results at 7 and we were ready to begin with Sovrag, a local death metal band who attracted a fairly decent crowd for the hour and their lack of a discography. Their performance wasn’t bad at all either, with the balance between the vocals and the rest of the band being managed rather well. A few heads started moving under the stage and the crowd was indeed slowly warming up. The vocalist, Luka Orel, has this rather funny stance on stage and looks like a somewhat nerdy man trying to make the manliest face possible when growling. The growls are pretty solid, but the performance does need mileage. Overall, a decent show from a young band that could eventually go somewhere.
What followed was another local death metal band, rather aptly called Smrt (death). However, no one actually died so this is false advertising and therefore I rate them 2/5 skulls. But if I’m more serious for a second, Smrt plays a more morose type of death metal and there are clear hints of melancholy. They’re not quite October Tide, but it does add an interesting layer to the sound. In keeping with the theme of politics the vocalist Lan Pahor shares the last name of our president and despite his stage performance being concocted from all sorts of various unholy noises I still found him more eloquent than his namesake politician. Pahor is actually a really good vocalist and does show a lot of variety, seemingly with proper technique – which isn’t always the case with smaller or even less small bands. The rest of the lads do their job fine as well, although the band is very focused on the vocalist.
Quick break and we were ready for the highlight of the evening. The entire show was happening on the smaller stage upstairs in Orto bar due to not that many tickets being sold, which did make me wonder how Baest will manage the very tiny amount of space as they are known as a band that can really command a stage and loves moving around. If you don’t know Baest and are a death metal fan – honestly what are you doing? The Danes are one of freshest and most exciting things to happen to death metal lately and they are an absolutely fantastic live band. Their setlist began with “Genesis,” a song off of the album “Necro Sapiens” from 2021, which dominated their setlist heavily. It didn’t take long before the crowd under the stage erupted into a proper moshpit, partially made up of the lads from the previous two bands that played on the night. The band’s sound is often compared to old school death metal such as early 90s Bloodbath, which by itself should be a massive compliment. Baest is genuinely furious and extremely energetic on stage, lead by the vocalist Simon Lindemann who just does not run out of energy and it wasn’t long until he was shirtless and the crowd was eating from his hand as he spread it apart to form a small wall of death in an otherwise rather tiny room. It’s very important to mention the drummer, Sebastian Abildsten who’s had a very metal transformation since I last saw him in 2018 and grew out his hair and beard, but he has always been an absolute beast (get it?) on drums. Anaal Nathrakh should probably call him up and he can be the drum machine they tend to use on their records; probably at a lower cost too. The rest of the band is equally engaging and seems to genuinely love being on stage, which is a massive part of a band’s performance – it’s called a show for a reason. One thing I was not too impressed about was the mix on the vocals as Lindemann was really not very well understood and often a bit drowned out by the instrumentals. However, this would be far more annoying with genres like power metal, whereas with Baest it’s that insane energy you’re really looking for and in that regards the Danes are a force of nature. Towards the end of their 70mins setlist the band played “Gargoyles,” their recent collaboration with Trevor Strnad from The Black Dahlia Murder as well as one of their more successful songs from their debut album “Danse Macabre,” “Crosswhore” before finishing off with the titular track from the latest album “Necro Sapiens.”
I’ve not seen a foreign band since Obscura in 2020 and this was the perfect warm up for a long future of many more shows after two long years in which we’ve lost more shows that I want to think about. With the metal hunger now once again reawakened and many new shows on the horizons this really was a lovely, and very violent, to surge into a hopefully uninterrupted era of many more metal shows.