Review Summary: Hospodi pomilui!
Is there even any point in rehashing the Batushka drama？I think enough time has passed that everyone even remotely interested in Batushka’s music has heard what’s the matter and it is no longer relevant. That is, until we finally get some conclusive court ruling in the case. Not that the dust has settled and the drama is yesterday’s news, it’s just that people’s attention to the issue was spiked at some point and it has more-or-less fallen lately, so I believe that we can put our spears and pitchforks aside and discuss the music itself.
Right off the bat, it is obvious that Bart was not keen on trying to explore too many alternative sounds in his music. With occasional exceptions, Hospodi
is a more straightforward atmospheric black metal album. That might be its downfall to some, but let’s judge it by its merit as an individual piece, not in the grander scheme of things. Krys went less atmospheric for the sake of heavier and more doomy influences, Bart continued down the traditional rabbit hole, production as clear as day and only certain tracks try to differentiate in their sound. And on the off-note, neither record sounds entirely as what you’d expect Batushka to sound like. One is making too big of an emphasis on the mass of noise and dread that in the end washed away any song-writing memorability, the other one nearly fell into the pit on unrecognition, because of its leanings towards the typical sound, even if it tried exchanging a grand amount of different styles. If you want a true Batushka follow-up, wait for a 50 year anniversary reunion make-up special. Yes, Hospodi
is a bit of a play into the strengths of a seasoned metalhead, but still a surprisingly diverse cast of styles and directions.
Bart certainly wanted to make his presence felt even more. His vocal performance is grandiose. He shreds and blasts his vocal chords and tries very hard to make you believe that he is the lead. As opposed to Liturgiya
, this album is much cleaner in its production. You can really hear the high budget and the crisp ambition of it all (and all the additional ambition a high budget can bring). But amid that ambition, one cannot help but wonder, whether Krys actually was the mastermind of Batushka. You see, Bart is definitely a capable musician and knows how to write a memorable song, but this album comes off more as a collection of pastiches by different bands trying to pay homage to Batushka. That’s why every song here sounds like it tries to reach a different genre or a different variation of atmospheric black metal; from regular black metal like on “Utrenia” to something on the verge of resembling melodic death metal, “Wieczernia”, to even straight-out post-metal, “Liturgiya” (actually, post-metal almost seems to become the dominant genre in the back-end of the album). If the church chants weren’t added, you’d hardly tell it was Batushka.
However, even though Hospodi
without the chanting is barely Batushka, it doesn’t stop Bart from trying really, really hard to make you believe it is. It starts out with an actual canticle on “Wozglas” and every song features a heavy dose of them, layered in much more clearly than on Liturgiya
. But the music. The music no longer possesses the church-like atmosphere and no longer feels religious, both thematically or in its sheer grandiosity; no matter how religious the lyrics. The song-writing, the melodies, the instrumentation play the music more in favour of sounding memorable, in-your-face and overwhelming, but none of it resembles –and stop me if I’m repeating myself here – like something you’d hear in a church.
So what’s this whole scandal really for, if neither Krys nor Bart wanted to remain making music that was like Liturgiya
？By all means, you shouldn’t feel bad for liking something. And I enjoyed this probably even more than Panihida
. I really wanted to look at this album without any prejudices and only judge it on its own individual merit, but it just kept popping up in my mind at every song and at every listen: Why is it Batushka？ Why is either Panihida
Batushka？ Neither of them really are, even if both are powerful and outstanding in their own rights.
That’s why I propose we do this little experiment together: There was never supposed to be any second Batushka. There has never and will never be any second Batushka. Krzysztof Drabikowski and Bartlomiej Krysiuk just released two separate solo albums. Neither are supposed to be Batushkas and we can all now collectively fault them in sounding too much like Batushka. “Why, if you’re not going to continue that project, would you release a side-project that is so obviously similar to it?” And everyone remains friends and everyone remains somewhat