4th March 2020
Review By: Pete Mutant
Photography By: Dovaldė Gaidelionytė
The gigs in Glasgow have been ramping up of late and we are still awaiting the opening of the city’s new venue Slay. This gig was one of a multitude booked originally for Slay that had to be switched to a different venue. Last year was full of these venue switches and it seems that there is no end in sight.
Audio was the choice of the venue then for tonight and it was my first of most likely many more visits to it. It seems the venue is selected due to either ticket sales or venue availability but I could never complain about returning to this hub of live music. Tonight we had a veritable feast as БАТЮШКА (Batushka) by Krzysztof Drabikowski -which some refer to as the real Batushka- were headlining along with a nice mix as death metal legends Malevolent Creation and Danish stalwarts Konkrah joined them on stage and on tour.
I like a blending of the genres on a night of music as, for me, a bit too much black metal in a night is a thing. It also brings different fans along to mix and they get a different experience from what they may be used to. Winter hasn’t quite left Glasgow yet and there was a fairly rare sight at the start as there was a queue to get in to Audio. This may not be a radical concept but it’s fairly rare at this venue. A good sign then, albeit a bit frustrating as the first band had already taken to the stage and was into their first song.
I missed the first track by Konkhra [3/5] but I was well placed down by the front for the second track ‘Warmonger’. I wasn’t really aware of this band before but I did check them out so had an idea of what to expect and I was not too surprised as they played on. It was your meat and potatoes death metal. Simple chugging, a bit of groove and strong power chords which had plenty of bounce to it. Not to detract at all as it was simple but very effective.
We got a new track next and the title track of their latest album ‘Alpha And The Omega’ and it started off with a bang. Bassist Martin Kristensen was trying to motivate the crowd but there wasn’t much movement to speak of, although the music was flowing and a few heads were bobbing along. The crowd was of a fairly decent size but we were nowhere near capacity, yet.
Konkhra looked like the were enjoying themselves and the crowd was giving them a warm response. Vocalist/guitarist Anders Lundemark was smiling away whilst putting a bit of wah-tinged lead in here and there but it was lead guitarist Kim Mathiesen that was putting in all the tricks. Sweeps and tapping were in abundance before going back to the meaty riffs. It was a bit formulaic but still quite good. They finished the set off with ‘Facelift’ and that gave us all the lift we needed to prepare for the next band and the one I had come here to see.
Malevolent Creation [3.5/5] came on stage to greet a much more sizeable crowd. Now we were looking much nearer capacity as they opened the set with ‘Infernal Desire’, going back to 1995’s ‘Eternal’ album. It wasn’t really starting off with a bang though as the band seemed to just be going through the motions. Guitarist/vocalist Lee Wollenschlaeger (who earlier joined Konkhra on stage for a couple of verses) looked half asleep. The music was still on point though, it just wasn’t very electrifying.
It was like this until it looked like the band finally woke up as ‘Blood Of The Fallen’ was getting hammered out. This had a much better flow and less of the abrupt chugging of the previous two tracks. A few heads were banging now but that’s as intense as the movement would get this night. The music was progressively getting better and better but it was not we enough to get the pits going. No, tonight was not the night.
We got a newer track in ‘Release The Soul’ which went down exceptionally well. I’m a fan of their last album so it was good to see some of it demonstrated live. Everyone from the band to the crowd was now in full swing (well, as full swing as we’d get tonight). Roars of appreciation would blast from the crowd after each song and the band now seemed like they too were enjoying themselves.
The last two tracks were the picks of the set but it was hard to pick the best of the two. They finished the set with ‘Coronation Of Our Domain’ which was a blinder of a song. A nice wee facemelter to finish off the death metal portion of the night.
Now for something entirely different for our headliner tonight as Batushka [3.5/5] were busy setting up the stage for their ritual. All senses were to be engaged as incense burned, smoke billowed and bells rang, making the hairs of the body stand on end. The cloaked figures, all nine of them, were all set on stage as they got into the album starting in its proper order with ‘Pesn’ 1′.
The Gregorian chants were still ringing loudly and harmonising as the music built, reaching to crescendo with the music then dissipating to build again. It was a slower tempo to start with, crafted all as part of the experience before the tempo shifted and the rhythm took hold. The drumming was fierce as the raw vocals so synonymous with black metal cut through the music. All senses were still engaged.
There was not one more feature more prominent than the other but you would get flashes of an individual’s contributions. The drums, the vocals, a nice moody guitar riff such as the one during ‘Pesn’ 4′, these all jumped out sporadically throughout the set. The crowd were pretty appreciative of it all with most shouting a commanding applause between songs. Not everyone was overly impressed -as they were at the gig for different bands- but on the whole there was respect given to the band.
It was far removed from the earlier exploits provided by Konkhra and Malevolent Creation but the spectacle of it all was enough to keep you glued in. I’ve seen plenty of similar stage shows before from black metal bands so it’s nothing super unique but still engaging. The opening to ‘Pesn’ 8′ got instant gratification from the crowd and it deserved it. All the momentum was flowing towards the end as the riffs picked up, the drums drilled and all the visual aesthetics whirled.
The bells rang loudly once again to signify the closing portion of the set but we were to get one last serving of original Batushka as we went back to ‘Liturgy’ for the final act in ‘Yekteniya I: Ochishcheniye’. That brought the crowd in one last time and then the set was over. It was a mixed night overall with some good and some blah but overall there was plenty of entertainment. Perhaps I’d be interested in seeing the other Batushka but, having seen the ‘Real Batushka’, I might have had my fill.