Batushka (Bartlomiej) - Hospodi
Metal Blade
Black Metal
10 songs (51' 7")
Release year: 2019
Metal Blade
Reviewed by Andy

As promised, Bartlomiej Krysiuk's version of Batushka was released last month on the 12th in full. After hearing Krzysztof Drabikowski's version, Panikhida, I was nine-tenths convinced that his band was the real Batushka and that he'd been the main creative force behind the duo that he'd claimed to be. But although Krysiuk's version is very different from the Batushka we're used to, one can see his input from the first album in Hospodi.

The Russian stylings of the tracks have given way to Polish names, though the unholy iconography of the cover is still present and accounted for. Also missing is the oppressive wall of sound, although one can still hear the deep-voiced choir that sing their hearts out on the two other albums going full steam ahead on most tracks -- they're just not as overwhelming. Rather than recreating the first album's style, as Drabikowski did, Krysiuk has opted for a subtle atmosphere, making the beats more rhythmic and the blackened riffing more conventional and Nordic than the crushing layers of Drabikowski's vision. Sacrificing epic scale, however, means that Krysiuk gets to let the listener breathe for a moment or two and appreciate the interplay of the intro riffs or the background exhortations of the clean vocals rather than just being bludgeoned by pure Orthodox exorcism.

Hospodi's choirs, then, seem at first to be almost the only piece left of the original Litourgiya sound; certainly, the clockwork-regular beats of Powieczerje would have been anathema on the previous record. As expected from the ex-vocalist of the band, Krysiuk acquits himself well in this department, his throat-shredding shriek front and center in the mix. Yet repeat listens also reveal some of the power Litourgiya had, especially on Utrenia, though the more introspective Krysiuk style takes some getting used to. The difference in the duo's approach, now that they are split up, is clear: Though both use the Russian Orthodox stylings of their original album in their separate recordings, Drabikowski favors overwhelming force and an oppressive atmosphere, while Krysiuk prefers a light touch with nuance, a fine mix, and slow to mid-paced tempos.

So which one is the true Batushka? If you ask me, it's the Drabikowski version, which is more interesting and is definitely the truest to the original Batushka sound. But though Hospodi lacks the genius of Litourgiya, it's a solid album with more to it than many Internet critics comparing it to Litourgiya would wish to admit.


Killing Songs :
Utrenia, Powieczerje
Andy quoted 77 / 100
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