Batushka are a black metal band with few peers. A bold claim, perhaps, but the material on Litourgiya is unlike that of most black metal bands, despite being recognisably of the genre.
Blending the orthodox black metal style with equally orthodox religious influences, and an occult atmosphere that permeates everything with malevolent vibes, Litourgiya is a shockingly good album.
Scathing screams are supplemented with epic cleans, chants, and choirs. On paper this might sound like nothing special, or come off as merely a gimmick, or whatever; the reality is, however, that this approach is one of the ways that Batushka firmly cement their own identity. Litourgiya is a very individual listen, one that’s as powerfully and effectively wrought as it is forceful and effective.
Ominous and malevolent, the music on this superlative album manages to convey the feeling of confronting some form of religious nightmare, where otherworldly horrors and sinister intent is apparent from every angle that you approach.
This is an ambitious and majestic release, embodying the spirit of black metal even as it innovates with it, via paradoxically ancient influences.
This album recalls the time when I was getting into black metal in the early 90s, and has the same exotic, dangerous feeling that many bands from that era first filled me with. Whereas a lot of acts these days merely seem to go through the motions, Batushka sound like they’ve genuinely found some form of supernatural secret, and are doing their best to worship it in the most blackened manner possible.
This album originally came out in 2015. I’m only discovering it now, sadly, as otherwise this would have been a strong contender for album of the year.
If you like black metal then you absolutely must listen to this.