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Sounds Of The Apocalypse - 95%

eletrikk, May 10th, 2019

Batushka is a really enigmatic, yet super popular band. Enigmatic as all of their members are shrouded in some mystery, tending to obscure themselves with long flowing robes that are very monk like and covering their faces with a very odd sort of mask. Popular as the vocalist and guitarist have very disputed claims on who's Batushka is right. What do I mean? Well, Krzysztof and Bart both say that they have fired one another from the band, Krzysztof firing Bart, then Bart doing the same to Krzysztof. Now, at the time of writing this, both say they wish to release music, with Bart's version most likely to do so first. In all honesty, the future of this project for me is uncertain, but I am willing to support both versions. This album is my first experience with "orthodox black metal," a sub-genre I honestly did not know existed until I discovered these guys. The basic rundown is that people that play music under the genre name acknowledge Catholicism, and in turn the Devil as a real entity, but denounce the Catholic God in favor of the Devil. I probably butchered that explanation, but then again that is coming from someone who honestly just discovered it.

To begin with, this has some of the best vocals in the black metal game, both the harsh screams and the Gregorian chants. The combination of the two add a sense of impending doom, like the Earth is soon going to be plunged into doom and despair with no hope of recovery. I assume that Bart and Krzysztof both did vocals. I am not sure who did what, so I am not going to label. The chants remind me of listening to a true chant by actual monks somewhere in the Alps or Black Forest. The screams are more or less traditional black metal howls, but are still awesome to listen to regardless. It is truly something else to hear classic screams with chants.

With the instrumentation, it is truly something else. It is dark, atmospheric, and all sorts of chaotic with beautiful moments in between the madness. It truly does make me feel as if I am listening to a litany of some dark satanic cult. Krzysztof is an excellent song writer, being able to provide dark moments coupled with seeming unattainable beauty. So far, this record and band has the best use of eight string guitars from anywhere within the genre of metal as a whole, not being so heavy it is obnoxious yet still hitting you right in the chest. Krzysztof's playing is damn good, keeping up time with the guitar and bass. It is always cool seeing one guy doing guitars and bass on a record, as the guitars and bass always feel much more in sync with each other. Marcin is a hell of a drum player, keeping things interesting without the need for a classic constant black metal beat, even though it is very much present in his style of playing. The accompaniment of bells throughout certain portions also gives the record a feeling of being played and recorded in a church.

The production of this record is honestly amazing. It is very echo-y, almost choir and symphony levels of awe and space taken up. Everything on this record takes up a lot of space, but doesn't clash with anything at the same time. Litourgiya has that feeling of treble and bass, all meeting up in a mid range that doesn't make me wish I had gone deaf. It is so spacious, yet so full at the same time that the only way for me to accurately describe it is by telling you to listen to the damn record. Both Bart and Krzysztof would appreciate the listen, despite their apparent feud of who owns the band and all that jazz.

I wish I could remark on the lyrics, but they are all in Polish, so unfortunately that will not be an option, and I am way to lazy to go off and translate them, but I am sure they have a lot of rantings and ravings about religion and the like.

In short, Litourgiya is a really interesting album within the realms of black metal. It is heavy, one of the first black metal albums that I have heard using eight string guitars, and they use them well, not relying solely on the lower two strings to be heavy. The vocals are flat out amazing, the classic screams mesh so well with the chanting, giving the record a whole new outlook on vocal styles. The mixing is truly otherworldly, spacious and full at the same time, sounding as if the apocalypse has come early but got bored and decided to record a black metal album. Amazing album, check it out as soon as you can, hell, even buy it.