A couple of months ago I came across this band totally unknown to me.. Batushka it said on the bandcamp profile. A quick google-session revealed that it supposedly consisted of members from other well know bands; their identities well hidden behind their orthodox (?) robes.
About a month later, I got my hands on the cd-version of the album. The cover of the debut album “Litourgiya” gives us only few hints of the members real identities – but perhaps it’s enough, for us to solve the puzzle. Кристофор (bass, guitar and vocals), Мартин (Drums) and Варфоломей (vocals) are the names credited on this excellent album.
If you run the three cyrillic spelled names through Google translate, you end up with Christopher, Martin and Bartholemew. There is great consensus on some of the metal-boards I follow, that the latter is in fact Bartłomiej Krysiuk – the owner of Witching Hour Productions, and vocalist of the Polish symphonic black metal band Hermh. The album is also released through Witching Hour Productions.
Should one choose to speculate on the identities of the other members, then it’s propably worth noticing, that the guitarist in the latest known lineup of Hermh, is named Krzysztof Drabikowski; adding fuel to the rumour that Batushka is probably Hermh in new feathers.
The religous imagery makes sense the second you push play; orthodox chants dominates this record from the beginning to the end – creating a dark and intense, yet, highly spiritual atmosphere.
The first track that personally caught my attention was Yekteniya III. The track starts of with the subtle sound of bells and chants, but quickly gets overtaken by aggressive guitars and powerful blastbeats. A minute and half through the song, THE riff of the album kicks in; groovy as f***..
My obsession with the track led me to neglecting the rest of the album – and in the beginning, I almost forgot to play the album to the end; replaying the same track over and over again. What a mistake, because this album really starts growing the minute you begin to see it as a whole. Everything melts together: the doomy and gloomy passages, the never ending flow of massive riffs, the more traditional black metal vocals and shrieks. On top of all that, the chants and choirs..
I’m not going into a debate whether these are samples, or not. I’ve seen people argueing that the orthodox chants doesn’t sound organic enough, and might be performed in different languages. In my case it’s a matter of “don’t know – don’t care.” I think it suits the cold atmosphere just fine, and works as an integrated part that binds the whole thing together – samples or not..
This is a great metal record, and it might just be one of those boundary breaking releases, that ends up attracting more people to the black metal scene.
The Big question now is, where should they go from here? Right now they’ve released a quite succesful album; is it possible to create a follow up to this record, without repeating it self – the distinct sound and image in mind? The band addressed this issue themselves on facebook a couple of weeks ago, in a link to an interview done by Noise Magazine.
So, how great is your Polish?
“Płyta Litourgiya poszła po internetach, wytworzył się wokół was szum, z nieodłącznym sieciowym hejtem, ale też zebraliście laury jako jeden z najlepszych, jeśli nie najlepszy debiut na polskiej metalowej scenie roku 2015… No i co teraz? Jaki jest pomysł na następną płytę?
-Takiej samej płyty na pewno nie ma sensu nagrywać. Nie wyznaczamy sobie jakichkolwiek konkretnych celów czy planów. A pomysł na następną? Nie ma żadnego pomysłu na następną. Zresztą na Litourgiyę przed rozpoczęciem rejestracji śladów też nie było pomysłu. Na razie nic nie wiadomo.”