Sunday, February 25, 2024
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I could start and finish this report by saying that I am impressed and shocked at the same time, but young reporter’s soul screams that I should write every little detail because this event really deserved it. On the first night of October, in the walls of medieval castle of Kalemegdan, pagans and Christians decided to destroy our souls! In the past they usually went to war against one another but Arkona and Batushka this time gathered to conquer the world and make peace between those two religious enemies. Concept and idea of Bathuska’s tour with Arkona under the name of Black Pilgrimage is something unique in the metal world and I’m sure much time will pass to forget what I saw that night.

Let’s say this was the craziest roller-coaster ever. Let’s forget that all summer childish hype about the concert that made my friends from Abaddon crew go crazy. And let’s forget that our Ivona Bogner from Abaddon forgot the day and even the week of this event. Sorry, girl, I had to say it, it was so funny! And let’s forget and forgive this adventure of finding “Barutana” in the dark of Kalemegdan in big boots and cold night.

The good part of the night starts actually by opening the gates and the first band right away started called Varang Nord. Those musicians from Latvia were chirish overture for the concert and their energy on the stage was on the level of some great bands. They definitely got the attention of the audience. Even with some technical problems they did a really great job because it’s not easy to be the opening band.

Aeternam or “Orphaned Land from Quebec”, as I like to call them, are the most beautiful revelation of this year! Progressive metal with oriental folk elements got us on our knees! Great respect for the entire band but especially lead singer, Mr. Achraf Loudiy, who gave us the warmest greetings! I am really delighted I discovered them. Next to explosive energy, their music is so perfect that you got an impression there are ten people on stage. Nothing new for progressive metal but they literally blew my mind. Audience went crazy, especially when they played the song “The Fall of Constantinople”.

As we were waiting for Arkona, the amount of people went bigger, with especially high number of Russians. That gave me an impression like I was in the middle of some Slavic medieval gathering and any moment now on stage will appear some four pagan shamans to tell us our destiny. And they did when Arkona got on stage. After five years, they came back to Serbia to present us their new conceptual album “Kob” about which you had a chance to read in Abaddon Magazine, June this year. This time without big scenography, but with important message of their album, they left the audience in silence. There weren’t many moments of moshes or any craziness but the energy they carry with them is magical, mystic and ancient, so that the audience was in some special kind of catharsis. At the end, of course, a few hits and one song from the previous album “Khram”, just to break the dark circle of “Kob”, but certainly they left us speechless as always.

As some were suffocating and some enjoyed the smell of incense, after half an hour putting on scenography, we welcomed Batushka. About the band I could write a novel and it wouldn’t be enough. Let’s just say that’s a black metal band with elements of orthodox liturgies (church ritual). Everything else is maybe a sin to be said. It should be experienced. Just a few breathtaking moments I must say! Their appearance, stage scenography and concept itself is shocking. In my life I have never attended a concert that caused fear and delight at the same time. As they are opposite of Arkona who covers pagan subjects, Bathuska is a story for itself. Silence they caused before and after their show is unique. People just didn’t know how to react. Some misunderstood, some already knew what to expect, but honestly, I got seriously scared. So, all applauses for shock, fear and goosebumps go to Batushka from Poland. I am not sure if I understood their concept because they have elements of real liturgy (orthodox church ritual) but also icons with Christ that has blood instead of tears. That’s confusing and very disturbing. They really made mixed impression and managed to destroy our minds. 

Cultural syncretism that MM Concerts and Serbian Hellbangers provided for us that night was actually on the level of pilgriming. What is art without touch of fear and admiration? Metal world again showed us that differences are normal and if Christians and pagans can go together on tour everything else is possible and all wars can be stopped.

 

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