Two years ago I had the chance to talk with Ovfrost about the debut album by MALIST – “In The Catacombs of Time”. Now I’m very pleased to sit again with him and discuss everything that he’s been through over the past couple of years, but most of all – I am curious what he is going to tell us about “Karst Relict”, the brand new album that we reviewed here on Blessed Altar last week.
Hello, Ovfrost and welcome to Blessed Altar Zine again! It is great to have the opportunity to talk to you again. It’s been two years since our first conversation and now your brand new third album “Karst Relict” is about to be launched. Tell us how’s been for you during these two years since “In the catacombs of Time” through “Karst Relict”? Was it a long and hard road?
Hello BAZ and the readers. It’s been quite a productive journey for me during these few years. I never forced myself into creating music, even though it may seem that way due to the relatively short time between the releases. It always comes naturally, and it happened again with “To Mantle the Rising Sun”. It turned out to be quite an experimental record, where I was determining a way forward for MALIST. After that album I thought I was done for a while – but next thing the quarantine happened, and the isolation brought more musical inspiration, culminating into “Karst Relict”.
“In the catacombs of Time” received a lot of attention in my opinion and the fans liked it. Let me ask you first about your second album “To Mantle the Rising Sun”? How was accepted? And how do you see it now, a year later? What’s your judgment on it?
Some liked it more than the first album, some hated it for thrash metal elements and other things not conventionally related to atmospheric black metal, but I think it was a logical way for me. I never wanted to trace my own steps, rather to explore the genre and my limitations as a composer. I always leave the judgement for listeners, but one thing I would improve is the source recording itself. I wasn’t really trying to polish the recording takes for that album, and if I did, it would have sounded much better.
What did change for you personally since the beginning till now? And how do you see if this change crawled into MALIST music?
Life has been more or less the same. I got to know some creative people, and one thing that really stuck with me is how creativity and inspiration unites different forms of art, craft, and consequently, the people. It’s been easy to be on the same page with those involved in arts, and it made the process of creating “Karst Relict” that much faster.
Are there any new influences – musical, or literature, or any other that impacted your creativity? You pointed out some of the best black metal bands before…
Thing is, you rarely discover what inspired you to write a particular riff, melody, or song part. I can hear a soundtrack in a film, or a random melody in the supermarket, which later comes back in a darker form, waiting to be arranged into black metal. Or it doesn’t – you just never know. If we are talking songs and bands, I have a playlist on the band’s Spotify page called “MALIST – inspiration”, where I attempted to gather all the music which definitely has had an impact.
I personally feel that with “Karst Relict” you just went into the next level. The album is more diverse, incorporates many different elements, parts and melancholic moods, clean guitars etc… it is not just straightforward black metal and yet it is enough black metal. You said in our first talk two years ago that black metal has so many shapes and forms. What can you tell us about “Karst Relict” from that perspective?
Thanks! This time I tried making a more cohesive listening experience while still retaining some cross-subgenre elements and tempo variety. The shapes and forms are mainly some post punk, death metal and DSBM influences along with a more traditional melodic black sound. Melody is always imperative in my music, and I feel like “Karst Relict” contains some of the most memorable melodies I wrote.
If I may add, production wise it is also your finest album for me. It seems you have worked hard not only on the music compositions but also on the production, the sound. Especially in comparison to “To Mantle The Rising Sun”? Am I correct?
Yes, this time I actually took time re-recording a lot of guitar, bass and vocal parts over and over until the source material was as close to professional studio performance as possible. I actually got just that kind of performance with the drums from Daniil Oplachkin, a pro session drummer who recorded my parts in the studio, of course adding some fills and ideas of his own. It was great working with him, and it surely would have been impossible to get the album sound I aimed at using the programmed drums. As always, mixing and mastering was done by Artem Kazakov, and I think the good source recordings I got prepared this time allowed for a greater focus on improving the overall sound, rather than correcting the mistakes of the performer.
I already said that the new material is much more diverse, the songs are really great, there are some real anthems. Which is your favorite of these eight new tracks in “Karst Relict” and why?
It’s hard to say. If I had to pick one, I think the slow-tempo homage to post punk with some black metal flavor “A Way Through Limbo” turned out pretty good. It’s a very simple track, yet it’s out of the box for MALIST, and still flows nicely. I would never pick that track to characterize the band, but I think it stands out in the context of the album.
With your new album you conclude the conceptual trilogy about the Karst Realm that you started in “In the Catacombs of Time”. What does happen with your main nameless hero in the new album, the third part of the trilogy?
Death, a transformation.
What did make you write this whole story? What do you want to express and leave to us with it?
I came up with the general story, but I have to admit, without the lyrics written exclusively for MALIST by Archais, a prominent Russian poet specializing in grotesque and vastly atmospheric wordscapes, there wouldn’t be as many underlying themes and messages in the songs, which I don’t really want to disclose – it’s a journey in its own, so everyone can find their own meaning in it. The downside is – these album lyrics are very cryptic and it’s hard to decipher what many of those mean. I used to write my own lyrics in English and those were pretty straightforward, but for “Karst Relict” it is very much not the case.
Who did help you with the album? Credits about lyrics, or co-composing, or for this gorgeous artwork? Yes, your cover art is fantastic again…
I found the artwork artist when I stumbled upon the gorgeous drawing for “Timewheel” by Gloosh. Inersys32 did an incredible job with the artwork for “Karst Relict”, considering every detail about the Karst Realm that I described to her. She also did this cool Chthonic Trinity artwork for MALIST merch, which I’m very proud of. It was great working with her and I hope we’ll see her drawings again for my future projects.
I already mentioned the beast of a drummer, Daniil Oplachkin, who helped me record the drum parts this time. I must give him credit for the drums co-composing, because he did some very cool tricks at recording stage, which were never in the draft notation, but fit perfectly into the songs. Working with him and Alex Sarychev in the studio was definitely a highlight of the album production for me. Again, I hope to co-operate with Daniil more in the future.
The lyrics were written by Archais after I described to him the MALIST lore in detail. MALIST never had the lyrics performed in Russian, so it was a new and exciting experience for me. I’m a fan of this guy’s dark and grotesque poetry, but you really must be fluent in Russian in order to appreciate the complex structures he uses. Not only did the lyrics turn out deep and meaningful, but it also allowed me to continue working on other aspects of the album in the meantime, so I’m very grateful to Archais for cooperation – if not for him, this album would have released way later.
The mixing and mastering were done by the permanent sound engineer Artem Kazakov, whom I’ve known for 10 years now. The guy is a professional, and I’m glad that I really let him breathe out while working on “Karst Relict”, considering how good the quality of source material was this time.
Is there anything you would change if you could in any of these three albums you have delivered to us now? Probably you have thought about it?
Again, I would consider making better source recordings for album #2. But otherwise, I wouldn’t change anything significant.
With three years now into the music scene, what are your general impressions from this business?
It’s not really a business for me, more like a hobby with some benefits. You can’t calculate your future success, so it’s always best to be yourself and stay true to your cause and your music. That is what I’m trying to do anyway.
MALIST is part of the Northern Silence Production roaster, but you are also offering your music through your own Bandcamp page too…
This is an option available for any band. You either let the label take care of everything and receive royalties, or you sell your music and your share of merch yourself. I chose to do the latter.
What’s going on with Bewailer, your death doom project? Tell us in brief about it.
Flammarius and I have some early drafts for future songs, but generally speaking, we are not sure we want to take Bewailer this way. So I guess this project is on hold until we figure out the logical progression for the sound of the band.
Do you have already ideas about your next album? Whether musical or conceptual? I’m sure you have something in the sleeve…And in general, what’s ahead of MALIST and Ovfrost as a person?
Right now, I do not. It is possible there will be a break for MALIST until I figure out the way forward in terms of the lyrical concept and the music itself – as of now, I haven’t written any songs after “Karst Relict”. But I do have some melodies memorized, as well as some old drafts waiting to be completed. We will see.
As we come to the end of our conversation where I usually ask if there is something else you would like to share with us, or whether I missed something important to ask you about MALIST?
That would be everything. A very detailed interview!
Once again I would like to thank you for this talk! It was a real pleasure to have you again at BAZ and learn directly from you about your new album! I hope we’ll be able to chat again soon on your next musical occasion. I personally wish you much success with “Karst Relict”. I’m sure the fans will accept it very positively!
Thank you for having me. Keep supporting the underground and listening to sincere music!
Interview by Count Vlad
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.**