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Orthodox Ceremony - 97%

Oscar1989, December 15th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Witching Hour Productions (Limited edition, Wooden box)

It's always like that - the more something is hyped before the actual release, the more I think 'is it really going to be worth all that excitement?'. Batushka kept being advertised by Witching Hour Productions as the absolute sensation coming to the scene. It was being described as the Polish project with incognito musicians who are generally well-known in the business. It was supposed to stir the black metal scene. Well, it did... In fact, it messed up my annual summary already jumping to the lead as one of the best albums and debuts of 2015. Behold the mighty Litourgiya!

As soon as you play the first track, you realize you are not dealing with yet another black metal album that is going to be put back on the shelf acting as a dust collector. The unusual inspiration of Batushka is noticeable from the very start. All in the form of the orthodox ceremony, Litourgiya creates an implausible aura which, I must admit, I have never heard before. Alright, first thing that came to my mind was Cult of Fire or Death Karma, but Batushka is a level beyond that. Both visually and musically.

What do we actually get in terms of tunes? I really struggle to find any unguarded moment on Litourgyia. It feels to be a sort of very uniform concept album with a perfect balance between doomy sections and real black metal blasts. Subtle church bells and orthodox chants in Russian sound incredibly genuine and act as a perfect accompaniment for this inimitable atmosphere. All the riffs are really diverse and you can easily tell that they have not been composed by amateurs.

YektenĂ­ya 3 and 4 are definitely the strongest compositions on the album treating a listener with an unbelievable dose of orthodox celebration. The base line of YektenĂ­ya 4 is very effective in its simplicity and can guarantee you instant horripilation. The whole song is really thought through and it just precludes you from stopping it without listening to the very end. Well, this actually relates to the entire Litourgyia as after one week of listening, I can't get enough of it.

Litourgyia is a play on your imagination. Being so professional, legitimate and natural it enables you to imagine the orthodox ritual very easily. Also, I am the lucky owner of the special wooden edition which is a real piece of brilliant craftsmanship. Pure artistry in terms of music makes this album stand out beyond the level of black metal which we knew so far. I don't know if that was the authors' aim, but if so, they really deserve a massive pat on the back. And yes, I do hope that Batushka will become a live band. Period.

Originally written for The Goat Tavern: