• Mysterious metal mess - A review of Batushka's Litourgiya

    Batushka - Litourgiya (2015)

    Batushka is certainly one of the most intriguing black metal bands in recent memory and the hype around the Polish group seems justified in my book. The group combines blistering black metal, more atmospheric mid-paced passages and mysterious orthodox chants. Some people have described the band as an extreme metal version of Ghost and I do understand the reference but Batushka tries to be atmospheric and obscure in the first place and not necessarily entertaining and extroverted. It's a mystery whether the band actually sympathizes with or criticizes religion. The listener is invited to make up his own mind which is quite intriguing. It's respectable that the band judges its fan base to be intelligent enough to draw its own conclusions.

    The group's first album Litourgiya oozes with sacral atmosphere from start to finish. You can almost smell the incense, picture the majestic churches and watch the choirs sing during a mess. In order to keep things diverisfied, some tracks have slower pace reminding of timeless ambient influences and traditional doom metal while others quicken up the pace and remind of Scandinavian black metal from the late eighties and early nineties. Hypnotizing sacral chants meet bitter black metal shrieks that are employed with care. Occasional percussive elements such as bells and chimes increase the record's atmosphere.

    Black metal purists might criticize the record for being too slow, too melodic and focusing more on sacral music than actual extreme metal references. These are however precisely the reasons why this band is so unique and has become the most interesting black metal band in the past three years. This is also the fascinating thing about metal music. Even though this genre has been around for roughly five decades, it still manages to surprise and reinvent itself. If you have an open mind for something new, you should give Batushka's Litourgiya a chance. Extreme metal fans will like the fast and frosty passages while fans of other metal subgenres might admire the hypnotizing and warm sacral elements. On a closing side note, I would like to thank the open-minded person who introduced me to this intriguing band.

    Final Rating: 90%

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