January brought us Malist’s debut album, and what a debut it is! I immediately contacted the mastermind of the Catacombs of Time and all the ghosts there – Ovfrost – to understand more about the Karst Kingdom, the hopelessness of the world, the spectres of the shadows, the empty existence and the grandiose atmospheric black metal Malist delivers.
– Welcome to Blessed Altar Zine, Ovfrost! How are you? Exciting times I guess, with a new album just released?
– Hello and thanks for having me. Yes, the excitement is still there. It’s still hard to believe in my achievement, since I’m new to the scene, and not long ago I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to release my own stuff properly. After getting signed with Northern Silence I got the directions I needed to craft the image for the band and its first album. If it wasn’t for that union, we probably wouldn’t be talking right now.
– How did you decide to go with Malist? Tell us more about your initial plans when forming this project.
– It all started back in 2015, when I was becoming more and more absorbed in black metal music with each day, digging for its more extreme and obscure forms. I’d been playing the guitar for 5 years back then, mostly melodic death and metalcore stuff that wasn’t hard to learn, and I also dreamt of writing metal songs of my own, with constant attempts at composing something in GuitarPro. My first attempts were trash obviously, but I just kept doing it, because I had to stash all these melodies in my head somewhere.
After analysing some black metal songs that I loved, I came to realization that this music, given its endless raw emotion and sincerity, wasn’t that hard to play on guitar, and I actually could arrange practically every melody that struck with me in form of a black metal riff. So I decided to write black metal songs only; first there were softer ones that sounded more like post-black metal, blackgaze, atmospheric black metal, etc. In 2017 I decided to write a heavier black metal song not using any leads or fancy orchestration, only relying on one guitar, a bass and a drumkit. I called this song “Spiritual Oppression” (ironically, ended up the only song having a lead guitar part, added on the recording stage). In my opinion it finally turned out good enough, so I decided that this concept was my thing – and challenged myself to write more songs this way. I came up with the band name in 2018, when I found myself having a lot of same-concept songs on my plate and decided to try and release all those as one full-length album.
– Malist is a solo project band with you performing everything. Why are you alone in this and how hard it is for you? Or it is easier to go this way in order to realize all your ideas without someone else to interfere?
– It’s not that hard. Composing music is a pastime I actually really enjoy. So much that I’d prefer to have it all to myself.
– Why “Malist”? Why do you believe the world is evil?
– It doesn’t have to do with my mental health, nor is it an ideology cast in concrete. It is merely based on my personal experience, and I know that I’m not alone thinking like that.
– Do you dream of better world? Or you are on the dark side only?
– There is no hope for this world. All we can do is adapt & endure.
– Did the black metal come with time as a natural choice for expression of your ideas or you were straight forward right from the start and decisive that you want to play black metal definitely?
– Black metal has so many shapes and forms that it couldn’t have been more natural for me; the genre still has room for artists to create original music, and even experiment without straying too far. It’s really tough to create, let’s say, an original melodic death metal song these days, because of how limited the moods and the techniques within this genre are – everything good has already been done countless times.
– What are your main inspirations when writing and performing? Any bands, literature, nature…?
– The grimness of the surroundings is more than enough. Especially when you can’t hear the filth but only see it; instead of hearing, you listen to a soundtrack to your escape. You listen to the old ones, such as Dissection, Darkthrone, Ancient, Lord Belial. And you listen to the newer ones, such as Mgła, Sargeist, Plaga, Advent Sorrow, etc. You get emotional. You get inspired. And you read Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s classics for more.
– You have just released your fantastic debut album “In the Catacombs of Time”. What a debut! Please present it to us and our readers.
– Well, I already described the creative idea that went into this album. It’s a 10 track record, mostly mid-tempo, that relies heavily on melodic rhythm-guitars, tremolo picking and atmospheric breakdowns, employing vocals that shift between standard black metal shrieks, quiet inhales, and sometimes low growls and cleans as well. This is pretty much it for me, I think listeners can describe it less stiffly.
– Tell us more about the Karst realm and what answers your lyrical hero is looking for?
– The Karst realm is an ancient world of infinite mountains & bedrock hills, with most of its water sources lying beneath the surface. There are entire cities and castles built under the terrain, with spacious cave rooms & narrow passages where darkness prevails. The population is in constant decline because of the merciless and paranoid tyrant ruling the realm; men are little more than these terrible monstrous creatures roaming over the realm. The lyrical hero has set on a journey; he is looking for the reason to stay within these walls of existence in a world as empty as it is confined; looking for the purpose to endure his life and to find out if he is rewarded for all the suffering at the end of this path.
– What else can we find in these catacombs of time? Can you expand more on the time and the catacombs?
– You can find none but ghosts. Spectres of the past and shadows of the present. Their bleak voices whispering in languages unknown.
– The artwork of the album is very impressive too…
– It is. Northern Silence and I got in touch with Artem Demura to see if he could provide rights to one of his works to this cause. It fits the mood and the idea perfectly, couldn’t ask for more. There is a strong possibility of him working on an exclusive artwork for the next album.
– So can we say it is a concept album in all aspects?
– It does have concepts in both instrumentation and lyrical approaches. But it’s not structured to be a concept album from start to finish. It’s not strictly old school black metal, and it’s not strictly about this Karst realm I made up; it goes a little beyond that. Having concepts is more like having guidelines for me, to better organise my ideas & work.
– I would like to ask more about yourself? Who is Ovfrost in real life?
– I’m 26. I have a wife and a corgi. I have a full-time job. The usual boring stuff.
– How long are you into music and are you playing in other bands or projects?
– Started listening to heavy music since I was like 7 and never stopped. My love of music made me want to pick up the electric guitar at age ~17. I never bothered to learn the theory or practice, just started doing covers of the easy songs. The big step up in terms of guitar playing happened somewhere in 2011-2012 when I started taking lessons of metal riffing from Artyom Kazakov, the guy who is now behind the sound of Malist. I still couldn’t play fast songs, but at least I learned most of the guitar techniques and how to apply them. As for creating music, it all started somewhere in 2014 in form of simple GuitarPro projects, and in 2015 I finally finished and mixed my first song (can still be found on my Soundcloud under the name “I (demo mix)”). It had lots of instruments, parts and transitions were all over the place, but I finally made it happen, and then I knew I was not going to stop any time soon.
I’m currently in another band called “Bewailer”, a doom-death metal project that I and my university friend started recently. We’re planning to drop our first record later this year, but I can’t go into details about it right now.
– What are your plans with Malist for 2019? Will Malist be a studio project or you will perform live?
– Malist will most likely remain a studio project. It is too costly and time-consuming for me to play live right now.
The plan for this year is to finish with Bewailer and then begin recording the next Malist album, the instrumentals to which are already finished.
– In any case – do you already have ideas for the next Malist album?
– Yes, I’ve been working on the second Malist album since September 2018. The instrumentals are done, and I really like how it looks on paper. It will rely a bit more on atmosphere, but classic black metal riffs will still be there. The toughest part for me is the lyrics and I didn’t even start writing them yet. So I’ll do my best to release the second album somewhere in early 2020.
– How do you see the Russian underground scene nowadays? It has always been boiling and big, but I have the impression it is growing stronger and delivering great stuff most lately?
– Our scene, unfortunately, does not have as many famous names as the Ukraine, but it has enough decent bands, mainly in the subgenres of atmospheric black metal and DSBM. Honestly, I don’t know much about the Russian BM-underground – the vast majority of my favorite artists are from Scandinavia, Australia and Poland.
– Which is your favourite Russian artist, or which bands would you recommend us as a mandatory listen?
Grey Heaven Fall is a progressive black metal band from Russia that I think is highly underrated. Check out their latest release “Black Wisdom”. Another great bands to check out would be Sivyj Yar (atmospheric black) and Hovert (DSBM).
– Lovely!…Did we miss something important to mention or is there anything else you want to share with us now?
– I think this would be everything.
– Ovfrost, I would like really to thank you for this interview! Wishing you strong 2019 and much success with Malist.
– Thank you for the invitation. A prosperous year to you and to Blessed Altar Zine. Keep listening to sincere music.
Interview by Count Vlad
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