Saturday evening, on the 7th of January, I attended the European Pilgrimage Tour with Batushka and Arkona. Both bands are from Poland and the concert has been organised by Live Nation Promotions in Cluj-Napoca Romania. The band’s tour has more than 10 dates, and before Cluj they performed in the town of Kosice, Slovakia. The concert was sold out after having a very good presale. In the begining I want to say a few words about the venue. The organizers decided to hold the concert in The Shelter club. In my oppinion, this venue is much too small for such an event when you have more than 300 people attenting at the show. Sadly, the club was not the best solution to organize such a concert. This was the great minus of the event; there were too many people for the small place that the club can offer. The club does not have the perfect angle for the stage. For example, the onlooker who would stand on the right side of the stage, in front of the bar would not have the perfect view of what was happening on the stage.
The event had open doors at 19:30 and after one hour the first band started to play.
Hailing from Poland, ARKONA opened the concert with a 50 minutes true pagan black metal set list. The band played songs from the new album entitled “Lunaris” released last year in November. The show was very well organised, Arkona had a good sound with powerful songs preaching some old school anti-christian black metal. Arkona prefers to play their songs in Polish being able to express better their pagan and anti-christian messages. The show was composed mainly of tracks from “Lunaris” and “Chaos.Ice.Fire” albums but the band also played some old stuff. Having 4 people on stage and over 20 years of experience, Arkona the “last European heathen Stronghold” had a very powerful show. I have seen this band before and I knew exactly what kind of show they will perform. Pure pagan black metal, no compromises, just playing the old school sound with a very low contact with the audience.
Let’s move to the last band of the evening, the ortodox black metal group BATUSHKA.
Batushka played last year for the first time in Romania at the Dark Boombastic Festival in Alba Iulia. Using all eastern ortodox arsenal, Batushka had on stage candels, frankincense and holy water. The band came out of nowhere with their superb quality album intuitively called Litourgiya. It is very clear to me that behind the masks of the band members there are well known musicians from some cult band, or why not, maybe from more bands. The sound of the show was exactly as on the album, with clear quality guitar riffing and powerful clean and harsh vocals.
The band had also on stage a small chorus composed of 3 persons. They played their complet album without moving much on stage, only the main singer was doing the actions of the priest blessing from time to time the audience. The complete show was exactly like the Christian ortodox litanies with very much frankincense so that the audience could go blessed back home. The band studied very much the Russian ortodoxism, having very detailed concepts of image, using the chirilic alphabet, having the faceless Virgin Mary Icon on the altar and using very detailed symbols on every object and monkish clothing. Even though Batushka released only one album they are at the moment very well received in the metal scene and I have the assurance that there’s more to come from the band in the future.
The event was „sadly” one typical black metal show, short but very intense. Hope you enjoyed my short description of the event…