This is the first part of a two-part collection of recent discoveries I’ve made in the vein of black metal, plus one that isn’t black metal but is still spiritually as black as a corpse charred in a napalm attack. As will become obvious, I’ve chosen this particular group of bands in part because no two of them sound alike.
Batushka are a Polish band whose members have not been disclosed, but they are reputed to be from well-known bands. Their debut album Litourgiya was released on December 5 by the Polish label Witching Hour Productions. It makes an astonishing impact from the very first song, and all the way to the end.
The music is dark, heaving, and very heavy — with bombastic outbreaks of wildfire and thunder — and the bleak, majestic melodies are effective at getting under the skin. But what sets the music apart and makes the album especially memorable are the vocals. In addition to the incinerating shrieks that you might expect in a black metal album, you’ll hear reverberating liturgical chants in what I’m told is Church Slavonic — the language used in the Orthodox Church in such places as Poland, Russia, and Ukraine, as well as nations in the Balkan Peninsula. Continue reading »