27th August 2021
Krzysztof Drabikowski’s Batushka & Shodan
On Friday 27th August. Krzysztof Drabikowski’s BATUSHKA, a Black Metal band from Poland, played their full album ‘Panihida’ live at Hala Forum in Krakow. The band had a local Death Metal support, SHODAN.
This is the first show of Krzysztof Drabikowski’s BATUSHKA since the pandemic hit and this was the first time, I saw the group playing their entire ‘Panihida’ album. But first, I will speak about the opening act - SHODAN. They showed Krakow what they got, giving a lesson in slamming with their heavy-as-hell compositions. Comprised of Szczepan Inglot (guitars, vocals). Michał Jarosz (drums) and Tomasz Sadlak (bass, vocals), this excellent Death / Prog unity from Wroclaw blasted a demolishing setlist including songs from their newest album ‘Death, Rule Over Us’, which by the way I thought sounded amazing live, with older hits from ‘Protocol of Dying’ and ‘Zero – K’.
Twenty minutes later, BATUSHKA started their liturgy. The stage was lit in menacing red tones, all of the band members were walking barefoot while lighting candles. The whole show can be read as an “Orthodox Black Mass”. The music grabs you from its first notes; you realize that you’re in for a real treat by something truly unique and original. The orthodox chanting, chimes, and bells that capture the attention. History (and its present) cannot be used more explicitly than in BATUSHKA’s stage show. All their singers, wearing a robe resembling a priest, used a very strict and monotonous mode of stage acting, various church props. Unlike ‘Litourgiya’ which was incredibly consistent and atmospheric, ‘Panihida’ is a lot more aggressive, in-your-face, and riff-based. While one might expect it to lose the emotional depth of its predecessor, ‘Panihida’ is just as melancholy and foreboding - now it just kicks your ass in addition to making you sad.
Even with a slight reorganizing of the band’s sound, all the components of BATUSHKA that made ‘Litourgiya’ such a treat are here and they’ve been polished to a mirror shine. Krzysztof Drabikowski’s guitars constantly come in crisp and dirty and the way they're mixed is phenomenal. ‘Panihida’ sounds loud and expansive without becoming exhausting. Whilst some may deem their Orthodox apparel as a gimmick, the technicality and skill from the band operating as a unit on stage helped create a truly striking image, one which certainly leaves a lasting impression. It was a thoroughly enjoyable performance to witness, one which clearly supports the sheer excitement behind one of the deepest bands in Black Metal today.”
All pictures by Alexandra Aim