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And They're Back - 92%

Drawn_In_Black, May 28th, 2019

One of the best surprises I've received this year as far as music goes is this morning's endeavor into Instagram. The first thing I saw in my feed was a screenshot of this album on Band-Camp from the (real) Batushka page. Of course, anybody in their right mind would go right into Band-Camp and listen to the album right then and there, which I did. I was not disappointed.

Just from looking at Panihida, it looks like the Batushka we all know and love. The cover art is even very similar to that of the previous release. I was not prepared for the surprises that Batushka had in store for us, however. One of these pleasant surprises was that some of the tracks seem to be a lot more, dare I say, melodic? This is actually a very positive aspect to me, seeing as my favorite metal genre is melodic death metal. The band just seems to have strayed from continuous blast beats and harsh vocal and replaced them with slower and melodic sections. The overall sound of the entire album is still the same sort of traditional black metal sound that Batushka adopted in Litourgiya, however. In some ways, though, it differs greatly from your average black metal album. Each instrument is brought out effectively in the mix, such as with the bells and clean vocals used in various parts in the songs. In much of black metal, these areas of the compositions would be lost in the immense echo and chaos in all of the drums and tremolo guitars. Many of the songs also deviate from the blistering fast speed of most black metal. This record makes a contrast from this stereotype by causing blast beats and obvious tremolo picking to be used more sparingly to bring out emphasis to specific parts in each track.

The change in the vocals is also a significant change. Whereas the vocals were more or less centered on the harsh vocals on Litourgiya, Panihida has more of an even mixture of both. I was especially glad to see this change, seeing as the Gregorian style vocals were some of the more memorable parts of Litourgiya. Each of the tracks are also more memorable in the sense of that they are more differentiated from each other than in Litourgiya. They are also more polished this time around which is nice seeing as the last release, although very spectacular and beautiful, seemed to run on with the same kind of dry tone. Even with all of these changes, it is a pleasant thing to note that the overall sound didn't change too much. They progressed without becoming a totally different band in the process.

All in all, let it be known to the general audience that this is the Batushka. This is the Batushka from 2015 that we all grew to love. If you loved Litouriga, you will most certainly love Panihida. Stay clean, stay metal.