Batushka
Litourgiya


4.5
superb

Review

by Arche CONTRIBUTOR (81 Reviews)
December 14th, 2015 | 477 replies


Release Date: 12/04/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Secretive Polish 'supergroup' Batushka create a monumental debut release that revels as much in religious influence as it does in blackened savagery.

Poland, as is the case with most (if not all) of Europe, has been heavily shaped throughout the past millenium or so by the forces of religion. The dominant group within the eastern European nation are the Catholics, although here the groupings and denominations become complicated. One such splinter of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Byzantine-Ukrainian, forms the inspiration of clandestine 'supergroup' Batushka's debut Litourgiya, and the result is an experience few other bands within the metal sphere can match. Blending black and doom metal with Slavonic chanting, it is almost impossible for one to leave without a sense of reverent awe and a heavy heart.

The greatest idiosyncracy that Litourgiya harbours is its blend of vocals. The Galician chanting style Samoilka is a key component that lends heavily to the ecclesiastical atmosphere cultivated throughout; contrabass drones underlay the incantations that constitute most of its running time, and these have a surprising emotional impact. The lead vocals on 'Yetkeniya 1', for example, sound God-fearing and vulnerable, whereas 'Yetkeniya 4' is nothing less than ritualistic and confident in its delivery. As well as this chanting, black metal rasps are an equally prominent feature. The effect that these have on the atmosphere is remarkably powerful - to feature something so demonic alongside something so monastic seems somewhat blasphemous, as if hearing the sins of the clergy spat out within the walls of God.

However, what makes Litourgiya move with such frightening intensity is the instrumentation. Dense, tremolo-picked guitar lines are used sparingly alongside doomier, low-register riffs that only add further to the monolithic nature created by the choral elements - however, tracks such as 'Yekteniya 8' show their capacity for establishing a truly melancholic mood when needed. The drums cater to this accordingly. Effective use of the bass pedal results in the slower sections barely ever stagnating, while the blast beats are frenetic, violent affairs usually intertwining with the aforementioned rasps to yield a terrifying yet immensely satisfying atmosphere. The occasional use of the zither during Litourgiya's quieter moments really helps to drive home the Slavonic influence, and creates rare moments of beauty in an otherwise pulverising wall.

Crushing intensity is a term bandied about with gleeful abandon nowadays, but it's more than applicable when used to describe Batushka's brand of Slavonic-influenced black metal. The mysterious nature of the band's members only finishes off the creation of a truly intriguing entity, but in all honesty Litourgiya has done most of the hard work for them; a violent, devout, moving and sibylline affair, and one that will hopefully in time be revered as such.



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user ratings (362)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
kingdedethefifth (4)
The sonic mold of a clergy hammered by the fist of god....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is an absoute monster. Any corrections, comments or hate-mail welcomed, and I earnestly hope that if you like interesting black metal this is at least given a try. It's worth it. Stream here - https://witchinghourproductions.bandcamp.com/album/litourgiya

InFlamesWeThrash666
December 14th 2015


6976 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. Album rules hard

Digging: Kawir - Exilasmos

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude. Yeah, it's truly incredible. This might be 2015's Tekeli-Li for me, I don't see any reason why this won't age well.

piroga84
December 14th 2015


354 Comments


"to feature something as demonic alongside something so monastic seems somewhat blasphemous, as if hearing the sins of the clergy within the walls of God. "

wow great review
pos from me


Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers man! I've actually changed that bit ever so slightly as you pulling it out made me see something I wasn't entirely happy with, but thanks very much :]]

SCREAM!
December 14th 2015


14926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

looks right up my alley, will check[2]

SCREAM!
December 14th 2015


14926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also why is the band pic a Kanye West album cover?

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm honestly not sure. The only thing I can think of is that there are no band photos, so it's serving as a placeholder.

piroga84
December 14th 2015


354 Comments


Litourgiya (greek pronunciation)
liturgy, mass, service



RustCohle
December 14th 2015


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fantastic review for a fantastic album.

Digging: Amenra - Mass VI

ZippaThaRippa
December 14th 2015


10288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It sounds like the guitars have been down tuned an entire octave.

ZippaThaRippa
December 14th 2015


10288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Beast of a review, you really captured the essence

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, both of you :] As for the guitars thing, I honestly wouldn't be surprised.

EvoHavok
December 14th 2015


7236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This sounds interesting. Sweet write-up!

jtswope
December 14th 2015


5655 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was on my list of things to check, so I'll get on that.

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks :]] Yeah, do so! Hopefully you'll like it!

jtswope
December 14th 2015


5655 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Based on this review (which is great by the way) I should.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
December 14th 2015


7605 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Band is not Polish, it's Russian, at least that's implied by the Bandcamp link, and the orthodox Christian album art.



Good review otherwise, pos.



Album slays, so does jtswope's Clerks(?) avatar.

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

SpiritCrusher2
December 14th 2015


5708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been listening to this a lot this past week, it's really awesome

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm honestly not sure where they're from. I went with Polish as the label is Polish and the metal-archives page states they're from Poland, but... Your points are very valid.

I'm sticking with Polish as half my review is based on it, but I wouldn't be surprised either way. I personally suspect strong Galician influence, so a Polish/Ukrainian tone.

Oh, and thank you :]



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