Batushka – Litourgiya (Metal Blade Records)
Here’s a quick question: when you think of Poland, what comes to mind? If you said gut-wrenching black metal, you’d be correct. That’s where the unknown members of Batushka come from (they intentionally wish to not reveal their own identities – they’re kind of like Ghost that way), and it was there the album Litourgiya was born, though it might seem the album was spawned from the depths of hell itself. They seemingly want you to believe that.
It’s pretty accurate to call Litourgiya “liturgical black metal” if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t so let me explain. Black metal has very strong anti-Christian roots and Batushka make it abundantly clear that they don’t aim to change that. The first track “Yekteniya I – Ochishcheniye” has a somber opening complete with chimes and bells which transitions into exactly what you’d expect from a black metal album. Well, not exactly. Instrumentally, it’s rich and heavy with a classic black metal sound but vocally is where Batushka differentiates themselves from the rest. Traditional guttural shrieks and screams are combined with Gregorian chant, giving the overall track a unique sound.
“Yekteniya II – Blagosloveniye” hits hard right from the start with heavily distorted guitar, thundering drums, and a thick bass. In the middle of the track, things slow to a crawl and another Gregorian-style chant begins before the guitars and drums pick right back up where they left off, almost drowning out the chanting vocals. This combination of heavy instrumental over a dark slow chant is something I’ve never heard before. It’s definitely an interesting mix.
The next track “Yekteniya III – Premudrost” eases you in, with almost a full minute of bells and chimes, light percussion, and incredibly somber guitar. That immediately gets thrown away without transition, upping the tempo to blinding speeds and letting loose with a long banshee wail before alternating between screams and chants. “Yekteniya IV – Milost” perfectly picks up from the previous track’s fade out, almost making the two sound like one long track. I actually had to check my music player to be certain I was listening to a different song.
Every track on Litourgiya share the same fantastic trait – low bass lines, thundering blast beats, and aggressively heavy guitar are met with a brooding, ritualistic Gregorian chant, and the occasional shrieking and screaming to mix it up a bit. The sound is extremely unique. An important point for the black metal fans out there, Litourgiya is best listened to from start to finish with no breaks, as there are eight tracks but it is really just one really phenomenal track broken up with a slight of pause between to catch your breath. Litourgiya is available now, so make sure to snag a copy!
Yekteniya I – Ochishcheniye
Yekteniya II – Blagosloveniye
Yekteniya III – Premudrost
Yekteniya IV – Milost
Yekteniya V – Svyatyy Vkhod
Yekteniya VI – Upovanie
Yekteniya VII – Istina
Yekteniya VIII – Spasenie
Bloodrock Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 axes
Written by Mitch Ellerbrock for Bloodrock Media on 10/28/2017