Malist - To Mantle the Rising Sun
Northern Silence Productions
Black Metal
7 songs (47:31)
Release year: 2020
Official Bandcamp, Northern Silence
Reviewed by Goat

Following up a tremendous debut album in last year's In the Catacombs of Time, Russian one-man-band Malist is back to build on his atmospheric style. In many ways this is simply more of the same although it's interesting that there are fewer, longer tracks, which helps songs to develop a little better in their own individual way for full hypnotic impact. Yet it's less of a varied album, seemingly having a similar style from song to song; jagged riffs, snarled vocals, blasting drums... on first listens, this is black metal 101. And although if you squint you can detect progressive elements buried here and there such as the early Enslaved-esque touch of album highlight To Stifle the Fire in the Eyes, complete with acoustic guitar interlude and delicate leads, this is by and large old school, second-wave purity.

Which is by no means a bad thing! Particularly when one of Malist's main influences is the Eastern European scene with its love of melody as an essential black metal building block. Generally the guitar takes the lead, the pyrotechnics on opener Land of the Bewitched especially superb with driving torrents of riffs and leads that ride over the drums (plainly not programmed, this time provided by session sticksman Marco Di Bartolo who does a terrific job) and making it seem much less than its eight-minute length thanks to a dynamics-friendly structure with plenty of switch-ups. The writing here and elsewhere is razor-sharp, the likes of Shackled Minds bending your ear on initial listens with its downright catchy rhythmic riffing that steps into blackened thrash realms, propelling the song along with a neck-exercising energy often missing from atmospheric black metal. On further listens you appreciate the subtleties even more, a slowing into doom-tinged territory complete with a spoken vocal section perfect to break things up.

And it's worth dwelling on the atmospheric touch the band has, too. Moments like the lengthy strummed intro to Tempest of Sorrow work perfectly as melancholic scene-setters, some of Burzum's earlier experimentations with minimalism coming to mind. And the contrast there with the ensuing black metal storm makes it hit all the harder, blastbeat-backed tremolo riffing coming across as Drudkh's somehow gloomier cousin, a touch of symphonic influence giving Malist's epic nature a boost. When you really delve deep into To Mantle the Rising Sun the depths become more apparent - the violent opening to The Ultimate Possession or the more audibly bass-driven Blood of the Untouchable draw your attention, but the songs that follow keep it affixed.

So although closing eight-minuter Karsted Hearts is the most prog-tinged on the album, in this case that means building slowly with plenty of riff changes and devoting plenty of time to hypnotic guitarwork before a big keyboard-and-acoustic-guitar interlude straight out of 1997. Mainman Ovfrost is clearly a fan of the genre, and indeed this album as a whole will appeal mostly to black metal devotees who like delving into a good album with headphones, a sunset, and a glass of something brown and oak-aged. As good as it is, the stylistic repetitions will limit its appeal to genre fanatics, as will the premonition that 2021 will produce an even better album from Malist, an act clearly bursting with life and love of black metal. In the here and now, To Mantle the Rising Sun shows that first album was no fluke, a fine follow-up from Malist that proves it to be an act seriously worth following. Beautiful artwork, too!

Killing Songs :
Land of the Bewitched, Shackled Minds, To Stifle the Fire in the Eyes, Karsted Hearts
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Malist that we have reviewed:
Malist - Karst Relict reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Malist - In the Catacombs of Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
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