Witching Hour Productions
The sudden fascination in Polish black metal band Batushka compelled me to check them and their debut album, Litourgiya out. Before even listening to any of the tracks on the album, the artwork itself captivating me, which I found out later is a blurred image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Yet, there was something deeply unsettling about this album artwork, compounded by the provoking imagery that the band conjures through their live performances.
While they do remind of the discerning listener of Ghost, the material on Litourgiya couldn’t be more different. Opener Yekteniya 1 brings one to the setting of an abandoned chapel, as one hears the echoes of a lone guitar note being played. No sooner ones begins to come to peace with that odd sense of haunting calmness, Batushka buries you under a massive wall of sound. The ferocity and intensity that the band emanates, along with the aggression, is rather reminiscent of bands such as Sulphur Aeon.
Atmosphere is key to the craft of Batushka and the band keeps the entire ambient of Litourgiya up through different methods, from the gratuitous usage of chants, to the sudden silence as one transits from Yekteniya 2 to Yekteniya 3 before letting all hell loose. Melodic moments are also aplenty, often intertwining with dissonance like those riffs on Yekteniya 3, bringing out a certain sense of hopelessness, reinforcing Litourgiya as a mixing pot of negativity.
A combination of brilliant songwriting, excellent production, and top-notch musicianship makes Litourgiya a record that even the casual fan of extreme metal finds himself going back to time and again, and proves to any naysayers that Batushka is more than just a passing fad with a costume.