Live Review: Batushka – Manchester

Live Review: Batushka - Rebellion, Manchester
21st February 2023
Support: Hate
Words: Matthew Williams

This was an eagerly anticipated gig, billed as the ultimate Polish metal package, as legendary blackened death gods HATE, teamed up with black metal phenomenon Batushka, for their European Pilgrimage, and with only two UK gigs, it was definitely worth the drive to Manchester.

Upon entering Rebellion, it was sparsely filled, but as the tech guys sorted out a few issues with the stage mics, the crowd started gathering and with a booming drum intro from Daniel Rutkowski, HATE emerged through the haze, with vocalist Adam Buszko taking centre stage, commanding all before him.

I have to admit, to not having heard much of HATE before tonight, but with their rapid double bass and blistering solos, I was hooked from the word go. With guitarist Dominik Prykiel and bassist Tomasz Sadlak, leading the rhythmic head banging and fist pumping, the crowd gets the pit going, and the mayhem continues.

This is pretty brutal stuff, with 'Sovereign Sanctity' being a particular favourite of mine on the night, and HATE are well, bloody brilliant. The riffs are heavy as hell, and superbly executed. They have eerie starts to songs, and really draw the crowd in. And the pace is just relentless, it’s no wonder that they go off after 25 mins, only to re-emerge to continue with 4 more songs, with only intensifies the masses in the pit, as the songs are bruising, proper intense death metal. I’m converted.

Photo Credit: Matthew Williams

After what seems like an eternity, and watching the roadies set up the impressive looking stage whilst listening to some very serene music, two hooded figures emerge from the darkness onto the stage to light a series of candles. Bells begin to toll, a droning, repetitive, religious chant is bellowed out, and the mysterious Batushka take the stage to rapturous applause, and with a gentle strumming of the 8 string guitar, the oration begins with the joyous 'Irmos III'

With the songs all in written exclusively in Old Church Slavonic, founding member Krzysztof Drabikowski has created something that is mysterious and deeply intriguing, and the vocals are conducted like a preacher giving a sermon from a pulpit, and when the utterly awesome 'Wieczernia' starts, the crowd are emersed in a dark world and hanging off every word.

It was almost as if the audience was transfixed, as the haunting and chilling atmosphere created by the band has the assembled masses stood there, in sheer awe at what they were witnessing. It was strange seeing them on a stage that was simply ill equipped to deal with them, as the drummer was hidden away in a corner of the room, but their power in songs like 'Irmos II' and 'Yekteniya III: Premudrost' are relentless and you can’t help but be mesmerised by them.

By the time the crowd filters out, a hush fills the air, as we have all witnessed something epic, a stunning performance from a stunning band.

Image Credits

Header: Tim Finch Photography
Review: Matthew Williams

For all the latest news, reviews, interviews across the heavy metal spectrum follow THE RAZORS'S EDGE on facebook, twitter and instagram.