Every now and then something comes along that just works and you wonder how we ever got by beforehand. Russian Orthodox Black Metal – it sounds like someone threw darts at a board of random descriptors looking to invent a subgenre but, again, it just works.

Batushka is the brainchild of Krzysztof Drabikowski, and takes black metal, with blast beats, tremolo picking, and harsh vocals, but expands it with Eastern Orthodoxy elements. All lyrics are written in Old Church Slavic and the album is presented as a series of Orthodox hymns. Vocals utilise black metal style harsh singing as well as Gregorian style cleans and choral backgrounds.

The Orthodox theme also carries across to the band’s aesthetic – members wear habits (which for a period maintained mystery as to the members of the band) and the stage is covered in candles and paraphernalia, with the vocalist presenting from a pulpit,

Batushka is an incredible and unique concept, and the album ‘Litourgiya’ is an absolute juggernaut of epic black metal. It was hailed by critics and caught the attention of fans worldwide, who eagerly awaited the next step for the band.

Unfortunately, before Batushka released their sophomore album, things became pretty complicated…

But that’s a story for tomorrow.