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Batushka and Noctem at The Dome, London - live review

Album Review

All hail the new wave of Gregorian BM

Tonight’s show is an intriguing mix of orthodox black metal – in the traditional sense and in the ecclesiastical – with Spain’s NOCTEM [8] firmly treading the second wave path and Poland’s BATUSHKA [9] incorporating Gregorian chants. Noctem start slow but hit their stride when their sound problems are smoothed out, the guitars finding their flow as frontman Beleth becomes a whirlwind of rage. Of course, the enigmatic Poles behind Batushka are the main draw and with their robes and cowled faces, the band more than look the part. Melding traditional BM with Russian orthodoxy is a masterstroke, and while other bands may touch on those base elements, Batushka have combined them beautifully. Tonight they play Litourgiya in full with a small choir delivering the liturgical chants with conviction while the presence of frontman Христофор is one of absolute command. Screams intertwine with the deeper choral aspects and the guitars move between epic tremolo and doomier progressions. Ектения 2 is rich with weighty guitars and the lead-in to Ектения 3 is deliciously suspenseful. Ектения 5 is powerful with an intro that takes its time to build but when the drums signal a change, the song turns into a driving and fierce ode. Batushka’s star has ascended quickly, but that is not without cause. Tonight shows that their brand of BM is intelligent and truly passionate.

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