Yesterday I covered Panihida by a different artist, the founder, under the same Batushka moniker. The situation is somewhat rotten and this record, backed by Metal Blade records, will probably end up with the legal rights to the name however its very obvious these musicians can't quite do it the same way. With a bigger production budget a cushy aesthetic makes for a clearer separation of the elements. Rather than the extreme clattering barrage of its counterpart the instuments stand tall with clarity, making it easier to hear where this album steers from its originators vision.
The first few songs hold over a tone steeped in dark religion. Ritual bells plays between songs that brood the Orthodoxy atmosphere with the choral clean vocals lingering a fraction behind Drabikowski's original. The guitars have a space to breathe and boldly they occupy as a focal point above soft symphonics. By the third track a diversion unfolds, big chunky riffs unleash mosh grooves akin to Khold, a fusion of grim distortion and bombastic riffs in tune with Nu Metal and Groove Metal. Its the albums most stark brake in stride as other directions feel much closer to the darkened core. Its always the guitars that step outside expectations and expand the horizon. It would be a niche touch for the band to progress if under different circumstances.
With its cleaner production and expansive set of songs Hospodi offers a derivative experience, drifting from the Eastern Orthodoxy template that made this band so unique. It holds on to Clergy chants but it feels like dressing around a set of songs that have an anchor in a similar strain of darkness. Its more exciting given the diversity but you can hear the different minds behind it. Yesterday I wrote that Panihida was the better but only as a Batushka record. This one is has more dynamism and swells of intensity. Both are worth your time and different is my conclusion I guess!