Batushka - Litourgiya review




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Reviewer:
9.0

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Band: Batushka
Album: Litourgiya
Release date: December 2015


01. Ектения I: Очищение
02. Ектения II: Благословение
03. Ектения III: Премудрость
04. Ектения IV: Милость
05. Ектения V: Святый вход
06. Ектения VI: Уповане
07. Ектения VII: Истина
08. Ектения VIII: Спасение


During our decade, it seems that Poland is for black metal what Norway was in the 90s and France in the 00s. Hoodies have replaced corpse paint and with bands such as Mgła, Cultes Des Ghoules, Furia and now Batushka, this eastern European country is out to become the leader of the pack for the extreme genre. Litourgiya is hands down the best debut of 2015 and is battling with Mgła's Exercises In Futility for the title of black metal album of the year. And it probably beats it.

Litourgiya is the vision and the musical child of Кристофор, who is responsible for all the compositions and created everything in his own studio. He then recruited Мартин to play the drum parts and when this was finished, Кристофор wrote the lyrics and recorded the vocals with Варфоломей. In the end, they designed the cover art in the traditional way; tempera with egg and paint on wood and the result is exactly what the word "art" suggests.

Musically, Litourgiya grabs you from its first notes; you realise that you're in for a real treat by something truly unique and original. The orthodox chanting, chimes and bells that capture the attention in the beginning are present throughout the album's duration. In addition, you have everything that you expect in a black metal release that respects itself: tremolo picking and heavily distorted guitar riffs, occasional blastbeats, low and thick basslines, shrieking vocals and unpolished production. The chanting though is what makes the album extra special, being present in the slower as well as in the faster parts and creating a mystic and theatrical atmosphere that is rarely encountered.

I am not sure what message this album wants to convey, if it is a blasphemous release that mocks orthodox Christianity or if it's the exact opposite, that is a christian black metal album (now this is an oxymoron!). In my opinion there is no clear underlying message and the band just decided to weave the two together in a way that no one had done it before in such an astonishing manner. I also haven't read any interviews from Batushka clearly taking one side or the other. Instead, they seem very preoccupied to preserve the mystery of their anonymity and they are successful at this so far, although there are rumours that they are members of other well-known bands.

It's natural to be a little suspicious when a band or an album is surrounded by so much hype, but let me tell you that in this case it is completely justified. Litourgiya is insanely good, it is original, it has song structures that most bands would be jealous of and it contains no fillers whatsoever. I am very curious as to how this particular style can be evolved and remain interesting in future releases, but for now this opus here is nothing short of brilliant and Batushka put it out there for all of us to enjoy it.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Production: 9

Written by nikarg | 29.03.2017


 


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments

Comments: 8   Visited by: 85 users
29.03.2017 - 03:21
WinterMadness
Nice review. I was blown away when I stumbled upon their live video for Yekteniya 3.
It's always nice to see an 8-string used for something besides binary chugging or tritone-ridden 3proggy5u wankery, let alone to see it used to such great effect in black metal style.
It's also great that they can actually chant, unlike what you'd expect from your average dime-a-dozen black metal band trying to add some faux-gothic flair to their sound.
Even their image works; they pull off the whole "creepy religious stuff" shtick without it seeming gimmicky or being confusing because the look makes no sense with how they sound (*cough* Ghost *cough*).
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29.03.2017 - 09:09
roeder
At first listen I was blown away by this album, but the more I listened to it the less interesting and engaging I found it. There are a few fantastic moments on it, but has too much filler as well. This band seems like a one trick pony to me, so no wonder that Bart is trying to milk the fan base while he can with all the wooden box edition and color vinyl reissues and whatnot.

In a live setting however this band works surprisingly well. I saw them two times and both times it was entertaining but I will definitely skip them on Roadburn in favor of Bongzilla.
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29.03.2017 - 18:25
nikarg
Old Nick
@WinterMadness: I totally agree with all your points mate (even though I like Ghost a lot).
@roeder: I am still blown away nearly a year and a half later, but I see your point about milking the fan base. I'm surprised with your comment about their live performances, because I've heard that they are kind of disappointing by a few people.
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29.03.2017 - 21:09
roeder
Written by nikarg on 29.03.2017 at 18:25

@roeder: I am still blown away nearly a year and a half later, but I see your point about milking the fan base. I'm surprised with your comment about their live performances, because I've heard that they are kind of disappointing by a few people.

That might be because I didn't had high expectations. By the time I got to seem them I wasn't that impressed by the album as initially.
Some of my friends were totally hyped that they will see Batushka and they were disappointed as well just like in the case of the people you mentioned.
The sound was shit both times, but that could be the venues' fault as well.
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29.03.2017 - 21:43
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by roeder on 29.03.2017 at 21:09

Written by nikarg on 29.03.2017 at 18:25

@roeder: I am still blown away nearly a year and a half later, but I see your point about milking the fan base. I'm surprised with your comment about their live performances, because I've heard that they are kind of disappointing by a few people.

That might be because I didn't had high expectations. By the time I got to seem them I wasn't that impressed by the album as initially.
Some of my friends were totally hyped that they will see Batushka and they were disappointed as well just like in the case of the people you mentioned.
The sound was shit both times, but that could be the venues' fault as well.

The people I talked to said that they were very late to show up (like more than an hour late, which is enough to piss you off no matter how psyched you are) and that the sound was shite despite the fact that they were setting up the equipment for ages too. They were also not particularly impressed by the performance itself. But, I guess their music is not so easy to be played live...
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13.10.2017 - 22:16
MvonSutherland
Interesting review!

Speaking about Batushka live sound... I guess many engineers and technicians who are responsible for metal concerts sounding are bad. They just pump the volume up and make it unbearable to listen. Plus: many places have poor acoustics and are not good for such "wall of sound" like Litourgiya has.
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17.10.2017 - 12:46
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by MvonSutherland on 13.10.2017 at 22:16

Interesting review!

Speaking about Batushka live sound... I guess many engineers and technicians who are responsible for metal concerts sounding are bad. They just pump the volume up and make it unbearable to listen. Plus: many places have poor acoustics and are not good for such "wall of sound" like Litourgiya has.

All fair points. Unfortunately I haven't seen them yet, so I don't have an opinion.
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17.10.2017 - 14:11
MvonSutherland
Written by nikarg on 17.10.2017 at 12:46

Written by MvonSutherland on 13.10.2017 at 22:16

Interesting review!

Speaking about Batushka live sound... I guess many engineers and technicians who are responsible for metal concerts sounding are bad. They just pump the volume up and make it unbearable to listen. Plus: many places have poor acoustics and are not good for such "wall of sound" like Litourgiya has.

All fair points. Unfortunately I haven't seen them yet, so I don't have an opinion.


Same here! I have not seen them live, yet. It could be interesting experience though!
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