July 12, 2019 Batushka – Hospodi (Album Review)
Religion is an occurrence as old as time, there is a strength and freedom for some in shared beliefs of something more. Over the centuries, European countries have been known for rich tapestries of religious beliefs that are compiled with intricate tradition and ceremony. These thoughts in mind, Poland’s Batushka return with a gorgeous marriage of Orthodox music, ritual, and fearsome Black Metal on their new album Hospodi.
Their second overall album, and follow-up to 2015’s Litourgiya, Hospodi hits the public on Friday, July 12th through Metal Blade Records. Named after an Old Church Slavonic word for God, Hospodi is a conceptual album based on the Liturgy of Death, the prayers for the dead, and Orthodox funeral rites and dirges. Bringing these ideas to life over ten carefully created tracks, “Wozglas” is the introduction into the world of Hospodi. Ringing out with a series of patient bells that renew into concise, it bellows religious rights. This is while “Dziewiatyj Czas” builds up slowly, with a clacking playing background to dissonant guitars before it explodes into a headbanging riff. A striking piece, the guttural screams interchange with an unyielding chorus, resulting in an incredibly dynamic and upending song.
Then “Wieczernia” uses the quintessential rapid fire drums overlaid with unrelenting guitar as the vocals take a bit of a back seat, residing in the shadows like a black widow. Even more brooding and ominous, “Powieczerje” is a gorgeous harmony of brutal, enticing guitar rhythms and interchanging chorale voices and unclean vocals. This is while “Pierwyj Czas” comes bursting right out of the gates with shredding riffs and unceasing energy. Unpredictable, it winds down into gentle melody for the briefest of moments before it explodes right back into a force of nature.
Keeping the mood flowing, “Tretji Czas” marches into the depths with military style percussion and booming guitars. Again powerful, there is something seductive about the track as it begins to climb into its crescendo while the guitars pair up to tear away in perfect synchrony throughout the entire track. Giving you little time to catch your breath, the album closed with the same quiet reverence in which in it came, concluding with “Liturgiya.”
A mammoth of an album, Hospodi embraces its religious roots and increasingly baptizes the listener deeper and deeper with every song. Adding to the atmosphere, the analogue recording brings an untethered strength with it but is void of any muddiness or incoherence. These factors in place, the album does take its time to weave together and rise into its voice; something that only pervades its heaviness and aids in its flow. All in all, Batushka have birthed as well as unleashed a riveting neo-breed of Black Metal sound with Hospodi, and that is why Cryptic Rock give it 5 out of 5 stars.