Malist - In the Catacombs of Time
Black Metal
10 songs (50:26)
Release year: 2019
Official Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat

Black metal is probably the only genre of (extreme) music where you can find fans mocking one-man bands as being 'basement-dwelling' or 'bedroom-based' rather than appreciating them for their overachievements, despite the many occasions in the genre's history where lone wolf projects have delivered fantastic results. Malist are no exception, based in Moscow and led by Ovfrost who handles all the instruments on this, his debut record as far as I can tell. And In the Catacombs of Time definitely ticks all the right boxes, exceeding expectations in almost every way. Combining various strains of black metal, including traditional, atmospheric, depressive, and even progressive, Malist is quite unique in feel once given time to work its dark magic on you.

Even the obligatory part-acoustic intro and outro pieces are effective, Venture into Life and Ever After dark and mysterious portals in and out respectively of Malist's bleak world, yet it's what is between them that is truly superb. Each and every track delivers in terms of gloomy, riff-driven black metal, first track proper Agony (To No Avail) closest to the Ukrainian or Cascadian melodic walls of noise that we've come to know and love and even a lengthy sampled speech can't spoil things, fitting the unnerving atmosphere of the track and helping its build. Spiritual Oppression is a little more diverse, taking its time with slower, almost doomy melodies before becoming faster and more vicious, a touch of early Emperor popping up in a moody interlude that hearkens back to the start of the song. Forlorn and Cold is fast and compelling, an emotion-heavy burst of depression before the more grandiose Uniformity strikes out for terrain epic, croaked vocals from Ovfrost mingling with clean singing in something close to a chorus before returning to the usual shrieks.

Both bass and drums are worth mentioning, the former clearly audible and a solid counterpart to the upfront riffs, while the latter are far from the programmed monotony that often spoils music like this, diverse and technical-sounding (I don't think they are programmed, but if they are it's near-perfectly done and not at all distracting). Musicianship is often undervalued in black metal, a genre that is, after all, more about the dark spells created than the tools themselves, yet Malist manages to make, say, the jagged riffing of the old Darkthrone-esque paean to burnt witches of Food for the Flames as interesting as the atmosphere created with them. And although each track is different in a small, subtle way, as an album the songs bind together very well indeed to create a cohesive listening experience, the melancholic chords of En Bitter Längtan clearly from the same guitar as the shimmering waves of Violated by Nothingness.

That track is worth dwelling on, as it's the closest thing present to some sort of progressive post-black mutation with its groovy breakdown and technical guitarwork shooting off in intriguing directions before being brought back under control - a hint of future pathways for a band otherwise very close to the traditional aspects of the genre? Definitely a name to remember, then, and whether or not the band makes my list (ahem) In The Catacombs of Time is a compelling take on the genre that will please those willing to mine the underground in search of black gold. Hear and buy the album at Bandcamp, if you miss out on the limited physical run on Northern Silence Productions.

Killing Songs :
Spiritual Oppression, Uniformity, Violated by Nothingness
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Malist that we have reviewed:
Malist - Karst Relict reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Malist - To Mantle the Rising Sun reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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