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Litourgiya - 85%

6CORPSE6GRINDER6, December 8th, 2017

“You always judge me for your actions
I demand the glory, credit and worship
Forever and always”

I love the tyrannical tone from the Old Testament god these guys use in their lyrics, that are actually biblical passages of the Russian Orthodox Church. Even if it’s somehow ambiguous, my interpretation is that religious institutions twisted the messages from the first spiritual masters so blasphemy becomes redundant; you just have to expose them as the bullshit they are, decorated with some melodic but dense black metal -blastbeats and 7 string guitars included- plus some sort of Gregorian chant and the result is marvellous. Batushka isn't reinventing metal but they take all the points in originality and satanism. Their live act looks killer too.

Vocals consist of a mix of traditional high pitched black metal shrieks, with deep and low but clean choruses, that add the cathedratic effect distinctive of the band. Lyrics are written in some old Russian dead language, using the Cyrillic alphabet as you can see displayed in this website. I found this detail refreshing and interesting, extreme metal is known for indistinguishable vocals anyway. The energy they transmit is stronger than words. The string department is conformed by thick sounding guitars, mostly downtuned but sometimes doubled by higher octaves to highlight melodies. Bass guitar isn't particularly outstanding but helps the band to achieve a “surround” feel.

Besides the classic distorted strings, there are some fragments of the album that feature acoustic instruments, that desaturate the massive body of their intense counterparts the album is mostly about. Aggressive percussion is present, fast and relentless high tempos adorn the blast beats and make the melodies even more trance-like. Accelerated tupa-tupa thrash beats remind you of the roots of black metal, but are often used. Some intros and slow and mysterious passages feature atypical percussive instruments that sound kind of ethnic and develop a ritualistic atmosphere, present in different shapes but constantly through the whole album.

Composition is simple, compared to technical bands, but very effective. You can feel how every instrument is oriented to develop the same feeling in every different part of the album. You could say that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication here, that statement works pretty well for Batushka. Nowadays is hard to hear innovative bands, pretty much everything is already invented but these guys managed to pull a refreshing sounding brand of black metal and I'm looking forward to see them live next year because of that. I recommend this record to any black metal fan longing for a refreshing listen.