Bartłomiej Krysiuk's Batushka - Hospodi


Key Facts

Country: 🇵🇱
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Release Date: 12th July 2019
Record Label: Metal Blade Records

Band Members;

Bartłomiej Krysiuk - Vocals


Batushka - Utrenia (Утреня)



Before I Review

First of, I'm still fully aware of the divide and confusion of what Batushka actually is and I'm not saying I don't like the album, but what I am saying is this is not the follow up to 2015's Litourgiya. I personally believe that the rightful follow up is Krzysztof Drabikowski's Батюшка album, Панихида. As a Batushka fan this feels like two sides of an album that one band should have made. I believe both albums have their flaws but I have enjoyed both albums to certain extents. So, from this point on I will be judging this album as a separate musically entity on its own. 

Review
Rating (out of 5 🤘): 🤘🤘🤘
Favourite Track(s): Wieczernia, Pierwyj Czas, Polunosznica

I feel if this album didn't come out of the mire of a media shit storm, I definitely think people would have embraced it as the album as a whole isn't really that bad. Whilst there are many of the signature Batushka elements, Hospodi focuses more on what made Litourgiya a success by putting the main emphasis of it's songs on the Eastern Orthodox chanting with their mesmerising and hypnotic effect. With all the attributes that make it a "Batushka" record it is still an interesting listen in some parts and a bit bland in other areas. The strong concept around the death liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox church is what makes this album conceptually quite deep.

Musically, there's not much you can really say other than big, swelling chants all over the place. All though this is still classed as atmospheric black metal there seems to be a move away from the rawness of the black metal heard in Litourgiya in my opinion. While there are some really good riffs in there they all seem to follow the same sort of structure, they seem to take a back seat to all the vocals and chanting. There is a very traditional formulaic intro verse chorus structure to the songs on this album, which in the second half seems to drag a bit. I mean it is somewhat interesting to have some clearly defined sections that follow a rigid pattern in a black metal album but it gets painfully predictable in this case. One positive thing that has carried over into the album from Litourgiya is the use of the chanting, there seems to be a lot more higher register melody and harmony amongst them which makes them the firm focus of the songs. With the concept of death and the funeral, I believe the concept is that these songs are sung at an open casket funeral, which is why there are some weird non-musical recording sections in there. Don't get me wrong there are some great melodic sections in there but the black metal element gets quite repetitive and safe, its the chanting that makes the songs worth listening to really. Overall, it is an interesting album to listen to given the circumstances that it has come out of and there are some shining moments but it does have its shortfalls. I'm not saying I don't like it but I don't love it either.

Production wise, it's a very polished and professional mix. The layering of the vocals are phenomenal, it would be interesting to hear this album played in its entirety in an actual church so we can get the full effect of Orthodox chanting in its natural environment. There is a real consistency to the way the guitars and drums are mixed so it emulates the feel of this album being a religious service, which I believe is what the band is aiming for. The reverbs are awesome on the chanting vocals as they all seem to swell and gradually build into this epic passage of music. Despite this, the guitars get drowned out by the vocals so when there is an intricate solo melody or riff you have to really focus your listening to hear it. Whilst the cymbals can cut through the mountainous layers of vocals the lead guitar can't so a boost for some of those more solo like sections would have been very appreciated.

Overall, its an album with an interesting concept and some great choral vocals but it just lacks a bit of the rawness and bite that made Batushka famous. Which hurts as a Batushka fan because I think if both albums were broken down and written by just one band then I think we would have the absolutely true successor to Litourgiya. It is still a listenable album but its longer than it needs to be I think, which is why it kind of loses momentum in the second half of the album and drags a little. Still,  check it out as there are some shining moments in there but you have to dig around to find them.

Bartłomiej Krysiuk's Batushka - Hospodi

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