Article By: Brian Halsey ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
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 that 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 its 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.
END OF LITOURGIYA EUROPEAN PILGRIMAGE 2018
(last shows with the ‘LITOURGIYA’ album)
Sept. 08 – CZE/ Ostrava @ Barrak
Sept. 09 – SVK/ Bratislava @ Randal
Sept. 10 – RO/ Cluj Napoca @ Flying Circus
Sept. 11 – RO/ Timisoara @ Reflektor
Sept. 12 – RO/ Bucharest @ Quantic Club
Sept. 13 – BUL/ Sofia @ Mixtape5
Sept. 14 – GRE/ Thessaloniki @ Principal Club Theater
Sept. 15 – GRE/ Athens @ Gagarin 205
Sept. 17 – ITA/ Bari @ Demode
Sept. 18 – ITA/ Roma @ Traffic
Sept. 19 – ITA/ Bologna @ Alchemica
Sept. 20 – ITA/ Retorbido @ Dagda
Sept. 21 – FRA/ Lyon @ CCO Villeurbanne
Sept. 22 – ESP/ Barcelona @ Sala Boveda
Sept. 23 – ESP/ Madrid @ Sala Caracol
Sept. 24 – POR/ Lisboa @ RCA Club
Sept. 25 – POR/ Porto @ Hard Club
Sept. 26 – ESP/ Bilbao @ Sala Stage Live
Sept. 27 – FRA/ Toulouse @ Metronum France
Sept. 28 – FRA/ Rennes @ Antipode
Sept. 29 – FRA/ Strasbourg @ La Laiterie
Oct. 06 – UKR/ Kiev @ Monte Ray
Oct. 18 – LT/ Vilnius @ Loftas
Oct. 19 – LV/ Riga @ Melna Piektdiena
Oct. 20 – EST/ Tallin @ Tapper