Batushka and Hate took on The Brooklyn Monarch! I was very excited to be able to see these two Polish black metal titans together on the same bill. Hate, who I’ve seen a few times, always brings energy to the crowd and effectively keeps me coming back for more. Their rifts are heavy and evil, filled with anger and that undeniable black metal spirit. In direct contrast with their crowd, who were surprisingly friendly for being fans of a band called Hate. They were very accommodating to me coming in late and taking photos, and for that I would like to thank them. Fans would let me pop right in and out with ease, though my luck ran out when the almighty Batushka took the stage.
As far as venues go, The Brooklyn Monarch is very fun and eccentric, yet has a certain feng shui to it that allows it to be easily navigated by all kinds of concert goers. You can watch the entirety of a metal show from a thrown at the back of the room, or pop outside for a smoke and some BBQ in their outdoor space, complete with fake grass and overhangs for those inclement weather days. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend popping into a show at Brooklyn Monarch when you get a chance… it’s a great addition to NYC’s live metal scene after suffering huge loses post Covid- (I’m looking at you Brooklyn Bazaar).
Batushka headlined this rare night of Christian inspired metal for me, an avid Pagan, but indiscriminate blackmetal lover. With their heavily Eastern Orthodox inspired performance, Batushka was far from the usual for me…. though the crowd was very familiar. The stage was set up with gorgeous gothic style church decor, candle holders, incense carriers, tapestries and biblical portraits, all against a video screen backdrop of church ceilings. It was a sea of old Eastern Christian symbolism, facing a sea of black and pentagram wearing fans…. An odd juxtaposition, that somehow worked.
The sea of black eagerly awaited Batushka as one by one they entered the stage to the sounds of ominous church chants. Extra time and care was taken to properly shroud the crowd in smoke and incense before starting the performance. The crowd fell mostly silent, high off the smoke I’m sure, leaving an opening for Batushka to totally obliterate the silent room with their big sound and ominous chanting in the Old Church Slavonic language…. Which I recently learned is what they exclusively write their music in… pretty damn cool in my opinion. The combination of the singing and chanting in this old language and the band sporting religious themed habits and schemas, concealing their identity creates the perfect menacing atmosphere for a night of black-metal.
The duo are the perfect touring combo but dare I say it, deserve a larger stage for their big sound and stage heavy, almost theatrical, shows next time around.
Catch both bands on tour together next year!
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY JAMIE SHERWOOD