Batushka – Панихида
Reviewed: August, 2019
Released: 2019, Bandcamp
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
A lot has already been written about the rift in Batushka and the now two competing versions of the band. LITOURGIYA was an impressive debut and the band was an amazing live spectacle; it truly sucks when the business of music interferes with art. No matter what side you’re on (if you’re so inclined to take a side), it’s an unfortunate turn of events, but… One version of the band includes the guy who wrote all of the music and lyrics and the other version features the guy who sang the songs that the other guy wrote. It feels as disingenuous as L.G. Petrov trying to stake his claim to the Entombed brand, despite not having a songwriting credit to his name.
Amidst the ensuing drama unfolding in the Polish legal system, Krzysztof Drabikowski quietly released Панихида (translated as “Mourning” or “Requiem” depending on the source) via Bandcamp under his own Batushka moniker back in May. Arguably the best album this year that nobody’s talking about, Панихида is a gut wrenching black metal masterwork. Translated as “Ode 1” through “Ode 8”, the songs on Панихида are ritualistic in their progression, deftly balancing moments of sorrowful, spacious emptiness and scathing traditional black metal, all the while immersed in the traditional liturgical chants that have embodied the Batushka mythos.
To dissect the songs on Панихида individually would be a disservice to the greater body of work. Панихида is very much an experience that requires the listener’s attention from beginning to end, but with each passing “Ode”, the emotional connection between artist and audience grows stronger and stronger. I know that last sentence sounds a bit ridiculous, but the music is genuinely that compelling. On its own merit, Панихида is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year – black metal or otherwise. As compared to the other version of Batushka, I’d encourage you to listen to both Панихида and the other guy’s new album and make your own conclusions.
Панихида is available for your listening pleasure via Bandcamp, which means you can stream it for free or throw Krzysztof a few bones to own a copy outright. Either way, this record deserves to be heard.