Review: Malist – Karst Relict

Malist is a one-man black metal project from Moscow, Russia, founded by Ovfrost. I first stumbled upon it last year, with the quite impressive release To Mantle the Rising Sun, and now one year later Mr. Ovfrost is already back with a new full-length, called Karst Relict.

One-man black metal projects are a dime a dozen these days, and while some of them are quite good, rarely does one really amaze me. To Mantle the Rising Sun was almost there, with an overall quite melodic approach to black metal but spiced up with some dirty and slightly aggressive riffs. With Karst Relict, I feel like there is a progress to Ovfrost as a songwriter, with an even stronger emphasis on melodies and atmosphere. The record definitely leans towards a melodic, post-black direction.

The guitar work consists of multiple layers, and there are plenty of piano parts thrown in for good measure, always utilized in an effective way to enhance the overall feeling. The overall approach seems to be to build a thick wall of sound, and in that, both the songwriting and the mixing succeed. The downside to that is, that some of the songs come along a bit samey. Without a single guitar riff to stand alone and on its own merit, it’s hard for me to grab onto something to remember. Most of the songs are a pleasant experience to listen to, but I could not hum to you a single riff after I am finished with the record.

The musicianship here is on a high enough level to merit this being a solo-project. Ovfrost puts out good guitar work, and I really like his vocals. Whether spoken words, pontifical clean vocals or the good old black metal screams, he does all of that very well. I assume that the drum work is programmed, at least it sounds that way. Just a bit too clean and sterile – but well programmed and creatively used. If I would dare give any recommendations to Ovfrost, it would be to see whether he can find a session drummer to lay down some filthy, raw black metal drums. If this record misses anything, it’s some grit.

That being said, I like Malist, and I like Karst Relict. There is nothing bad here. I would say in the sea of one-man black metal bands, Malist is definitely one of the best. And while I could not find a truly memorable song like To Mantle the Rising Sun‘s Shackled Minds, which to this day sticks in my head and makes my head bang, Karst Relict is a good record worth a listen. If you like your black metal well produced, melodic and melancholic, this is for you.

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