Batushka + Schammasch + Trepaneringsritualen
@ Islington Assembly Hall, London
January 14, 2018
Review by Philosopher King
Photography by Miguel de Melo
Батюшка hasn’t been around for too long, but they have since their 2015 formation earned a position in the scene. Very little is known about the Polish band as they keep their identity hidden, but known is that one of its members is Bart (Bartłomiej Krysiuk) from Witching Hour Production; the band’s label that released their first, and only, full-length album entitled ‘Litourgiya’. I had seen Batushka live before and was interested to see if any new material would be presented to the audience present. However, before Batushka hit the stage, two support acts were up first. The first of the two being Trepaneringsritualen.
This one-man project from Th.oth XIX hails from Sweden and initially grabbed my attention, but he was unable to keep that attention as the whole performance sounded like one long intro consisting of pre-recorded industrial sounds and a sweaty man screaming inaudible sentences, which felt like being repeated several times. The only difference being that he removed a sack from his head after the first track. Towards the end I was happy for it to be over. The most memorable part about this performance was the impressive banner hanging in the back, though that belonged to the next band.
Next up was the Swiss band Schammasch. The band takes it name from the Akkadian/Babylonian mythology in which Shamash is the sun god. I had never seen Schammasch live before and was going to let myself get surprised… and they did in a positive way. Last year they released an EP entitled ‘The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite’ and that album did show a shift in style compared to their earlier work and sometimes sounds like a sort of industrial black metal, for a lack of better wording. It certainly sounds quite different from ‘Sic Lvceat Lvx’, which had more a black/death sound to it and less focus on a more mystical sound.
The concert did embrace the new sound with candles lit, incense, and other antics reminiscent of a Batushka or Cult of Fire concert. In that sense, Schammasch fitted much better in this tour than Trepaneringsritualen. The music combined with the bright red and blue light on the one hand, and the performance of the vocalist C.S.R. give the visitors an near mystical experience magnified by the duration of the songs. Whereas I couldn’t wait for Trepaneringsritualen to get off the stage while I was progressively getting bored, Schammasch had quite the contrary effect and left myself and the others in a state of awe. The question was whether Batushka was going to be able to top this being the main act.
I saw Batushka last year in the Dome (Tufnell Park, London 22-05-2017) and my main criticism at the time was that it reminded me too much of Cult of Fire, a band I consider one of my favourite live acts. However, with Batushka one cannot but wonder how much of the Christian antics makes it a Christian thing or that it is a mockery. A strange blend between tradition with a twist which gives it the feeling of being preached to by an Unholy messenger speaking to its cult following (notice the similarities with Cult of Fire, who did the same with their black capirotes, but their later stage outfits are remarkable similar to that of Batushka, but used it before Batushka was even formed).
Another issue I had foreseen is that fact that has only released one full-length album (besides a single) and the possibility of a repeat of last year. Sadly, my thoughts on the matter turned out to be correct as they played exactly the whole album, the same way as they do every time. I had hoped for maybe the introduction of new material to warm us up for a future release, but this was not the case. They played the entire album and they did really well. However, I was less impressed as I had seen the show before, but can imagine that new fans must have been quite satisfied with the performance. The show was good, as always, great sound, and fantastic show, but still, for me it didn’t add anything new. Nothing negative about their performance, except that it is perhaps time for some new material.
1. Yekteniya I: Ochishcheniye
2. Yekteniya II: Blagosloveniye
3. Yekteniya III: Premudrost’
4. Yekteniya IV: Milost’
5. Yekteniya V: Svyatyy Vkhod
6. Yekteniya VI: Upovane
7. Yekteniya VII: Istina
8. Yekteniya VIII: Spaseniye