(By Brian Halsey, Staff Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
WOW! You guys sure are lucky I know what the hell I’m doing over here at the Riff Relevant corporate skyscraper (okay, alone in my garage).
When I saw BATUSHKA’s now infamous cult classic up for grabs, I threw on some corpse paint, a monk robe, and decided to relive one of the best albums from 2015. A lot of people don’t know about ‘Litourgiya’. Let’s change that, friends.
BATUSHKA is an atmospheric black metal band from Poland. The members of the band are unknown, and they perform with up to eight musicians. They sing in a Slavonic tongue, and administer a heavy dose of Christian symbolism (though they are not known to be a religious band).
To sum that up, they play one of the most off-putting styles of music ever created… in a different language, and most people have never heard of them. Did I mention they have almost 2.5 million views on Youtube? Read that one again. Twopointfivemillionfuckingviews! To put things in perspective, Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand has roughly the same amount. Mastodon. The band who just won a Grammy.
There are a lot of obvious factors at play, like the multitude of avenues for listeners to hear Mastodon. Additionally, physical copies of BATUSHKA were at one point difficult or expensive to obtain. Regardless of how you justify the numbers, 2.5 million is an INSANE amount for a band in their genre, secret Polish supergroup or not.
The driving force behind BATUSHKA is their unique application of Orthodox Christian liturgical chants. There are plenty of haunting melodies and classic black metal shrieks in the mix, but the action seems to swirl in some weird cosmic cyclone around the one thing happening, that doesn’t happen on any other metal album you own.
The result is astounding, as the juxtaposition of sounds is hypnotic and engaging, in a way that makes this a very different black metal listen. Your ears will be bullied back and forth. Luckily, the formula is at the core of every song, so you have no choice but to fall in line with the rhythm and get lost in the darkness.
A lot of bands with a relentlessly punishing sound will often sprinkle in moments of weirdness to avoid monotony, but I’m not aware of any album to fully embrace ritual chanting to the degree of Litourgiya.
All sub-genres of metal have their snobs, and black metal is no different. If you go too avant garde, you’re not ‘real’ black metal. If you go full-blown first wave Norway, you’re only enjoyable in small doses. The verdict has been properly levied against BATUSHKA. They shred as hard as any metal band out there.
Despacito and Daddy Yankee have a song with three billion views, if you have any pride, you’ll click the link and try to change all that. You can thank me later when you’re fluent in a new language and hear death metal play in your mind every time you walk into a church.
BATUSKA – TOUR DATES:
END OF LITOURGIYA EUROPEAN PILGRIMAGE
(last shows with the “LITOURGIYA” album)
08.09.2018 – CZE/ Ostrava @ Barrak
09.09.2018 – SVK/ Bratislava @ Randal
10.09.2018 – RO/ Cluj Napoca @ Flying Circus
11.09.2018 – RO/ Timisoara @ Reflektor
12.09.2018 – RO/ Bucharest @ Quantic Club
13.09.2018 – BUL/ Sofia @ Mixtape5
14.09.2018 – GRE/ Thessaloniki @ Principal Club Theater
15.09.2018 – GRE/ Athens @ Gagarin 205
17.09.2018 – ITA/ Bari @ Demode
18.09.2018 – ITA/ Roma @ Traffic
19.09.2018 – ITA/ Bologna @ Alchemica
20.09.2018 – ITA/ Retorbido @ Dagda
21.09.2018 – FRA/ Lyon @ CCO Villeurbanne
22.09.2018 – ESP/ Barcelona @ Sala Boveda
23.09.2018 – ESP/ Madrid @ Sala Caracol
24.09.2018 – POR/ Lisboa @ RCA Club
25.09.2018 – POR/ Porto @ Hard Club
26.09.2018 – ESP/ Bilbao @ Sala Stage Live
27.09.2018 – FRA/ Toulouse @ Metronum France
28.09.2018 – FRA/ Rennes @ Antipode
29.09.2018 – FRA/ Strasbourg @ La Laiterie
06.10.2018 – UKR/ Kiev @ Monte Ray
18.10.2018 – LT/ Vilnius @ Loftas
19.10.2018 – LV/ Riga @ Melna Piektdiena
20.10.2018 – EST/ Tallin @ Tapper