7/10

After a particularly successful debut album, the Polish Black Metal shooting star Batushka, suddenly out of nowhere hit the ground harder even than the most temporary one hit wonder. Not because their music lacked in quality in any way but due to legal issues out of the extraordinary. Although legal actions seems to be more rule than exception these days in the wonderful world of Black Metal, the fuzz around Batushka made the disagreements haunting bands like Immortal and Gorgoroth seem like friend-ish banter, as founder, and only original member, the multi-instrumentalist Христофор (Krzysztof Drabikowski) suddenly found himself totally locked out from the band by the singer Варфоломей (Bartłomiej Krysiuk).

As a result of the dispute between the two members there exists two versions of the band today, and the current release “Hospodi” is by the Batushka-branch lead by Варфоломей, in other worlds, the band that by many fans is seen as the ”false” one.

Therefore, and since Христофор seems to have been the creative motor in the original band, it’s naturally extremely interesting to see if Варфоломей manages to live up to the Batushka standards since the first release ”Litourgua” was a major success in the Black Metal scene!

The record (of course) starts off with a tedious intro, two minutes of religious chanting maybe seem to be a cool idea at the first spin but already on the second take it’s hard not to reach for the “skip” button. Although my aversion towards tiresome intros seem to grow hour by hour, I have learned not to judge a record by them and luckily the rest of the album makes up for the dull beginning by far!

Варфоломей’s version of Batushka doesn’t diverge that much from the original sound and “Hospodi” sure do justice to the Batushka-label, successfully mixing the sacred atmospheric parts with some harsher metal riffing. The tempo for most of the time vary from slow to mid-tempo with some occasional fast paced outburst and I would assert the music on “Hospodi” to be of the more easy accessible kind, at least considering it being Black Metal.

Варфоломей vocals varies from pretty standardised Black Metal-screaming to a more religious style chanting and all in all it fit the music’s mood really fine. All lyrics are in polish so I don’t have the slightest idea what they are about, but they give the impression to be quite religious in an orthodox way, and at least I hope they are full of blasphemy, but for all it’s worth, they could as well be praising the Lord…

To sum it up, I find “Hospodi”, although a bit lengthy, to be a really nice slab of metal, and a worthy successor to “Litourgia” no matter who actually legally holds the rights to the band name. Many have been speaking of boycotting Варфоломей’s version of Batushka and maybe that is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, if that is the case, you’re going to miss out on a really nice album!

Artist: Batushka
Title: Hospodi
Label: Metal Blade Records
Date of release: 12/7-19
Playing time: 51:07
Rate: 7/10
Stand out track: Wieczernia