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Mannveira - Vítahringur

by Justin Joseph at 03 August 2021, 10:39 PM

MANNVEIRA releases their first full length album, titled “Vítahringur” through the unholy Dark Descent Records. If you’re not familiar with MANNVEIRA, they are a Black Metal entity formed in 2010 hailing from the regions of Iceland. Since then they have released one EP and a Split. Even though the flames that stoke their pyre belongs to that of Black Metal, their sound is composed of different elements drawing from such influences in Doom Metal even small parts of Black n’ Roll. Immediately one of the standouts for me in this album was the vocals, as it manifests an occult like feeling but also gives the illusion of someone who is possessed. In other words, it’s pretty freaking good. The way it’s portrayed reminds me of the band, GAEREA with a tinge of elements from PANOPTICON (think “Roads to the North” album). The overall essence of the album feels as though it’s a concoction of bands such as SHINNING (Swe) and TAAKE with the Black n’ Roll elements. Even though it may seem confusing on paper, the way the songs are arranged, MANNVEIRA basically injects their own blood into these songs making them unique and memorable. But is the album any good? Let’s find out!

The first track, “Ópin rjúfa þögnina”, commences with a slow, haze like doom riff, with a simple patterned drum beat. These few notes set the somber clouds that summons forth a dreary, bleak element that consumes the listener’s senses in the first few seconds. The vocals while not your run of the mill shrieks or screams that one expects in Black Metal opts instead for a lower register based vocal, more akin to that of death-doom, which works in favor of the album. The vocals, in my opinion, is one of the many highpoints on this album. It exudes the sense of a tortured enslaved soul, twisted and perverse by a tormented mind. The vocals adds another layer of emotion to the album’s ritualistic feeling. If sounds can take shape, I’d imagine the voice of this record contorting into a shadow-like faceless figure, preaching its sermon. The riffs on this track while it's not the most technical, what I do appreciate is that it focuses more on the aura that can be constructed from noise rather than the proficiency on how complex a song can be structured. What I mean is that the album as a whole, feels more like a living organism and what injects blood into its veins is the way the riff patterns are placed in a manner which gives these bones sinew and tissue, in other words, it fleshes out the songs not in a manner to portray it as a polished gem, but to showcase it as a creature that bears its scars and blood. Another highlight which trickles into the other track is the fusion of spirits from Doom Metal as well as Black n’ Roll, take for instance, the 2:14 minute mark where the drums branches off into a straight forward beat reminiscent to Black n’ roll.

The second track, “Í köldum faðmi”, which is also my favourite, begins with a droning noise, with some reverb to the background giving forth an ominous feeling. Slowly the sound fades into a somewhat unrecognizable voice. If a picture were to be painted, I’d imagine this as someone whose mind is slowly deteriorating within an asylum who utters the voices that plague his thoughts. The short vocal passage gives the vibe as a legion of voices trying to escape a singular body. It is quite effective if I may say. The tremolo picking pulsates throughout different intervals of the song that summons a different spirit into this vessel. An example of this is the riff between 1:03 to 1:06 and the other riff from 1:17 to 1:21, it feels almost like a “cause and effect” action, strangely as though the riffs are talking to each other. Those two (2) distinct patters are place strategically throughout the song. It may seem like an odd mention to praise, but I really appreciated the cymbal work throughout the track. The drumming overall feels ceremonial in nature, as though it is playing to a beat of spell being chanted. The tone, while it’s not the thickest tone, it trades it for a rather ‘live’ vibe, giving the impression that you are standing in the same hall in which this ritual is being performed. However, don’t get me wrong, I’m not discrediting the drummer, as his fills and beats used compliment the song as well as the album. I am merely praising the production choice of it. The cymbal work however blends nicely with the tremolo picking mentioned before, entwining together perfectly into a cohesive melody. A highlight of the drum work is the beat used at 2:17, while not overly complex, it is so crisp and groovy, and this is where the Black n’ Roll element shines gloriously. The 2:45 mark is rather unique, as the song until that point feels like a wave endlessly crashing against the shore, however at this moment, while not exactly ‘calm’ the waters have been relaxed and the waves slightly receded. This is one of the key moments to me in the track, as shows the diversity of a song that is almost runs the ten (10) minute mark. They are different shades to the song in terms of the picking, drum beats, cymbal work along with the vocal melody that it keeps you engrossed and engaged with this incantation. At the 6:23 mark the structure takes another tonal shift, but does not deviate from the main course. Here the rhythm is a bit slower with chaotic ringing of the guitars together with the cymbal work giving that perfect union then launches into that slow drum beat again while the agonizing vocals kicks in completing the mix.

Vítahringur”, the third track continues with the same merits as the tracks before, it builds upon the bones of the second track with the ambience echoed throughout the previous songs. However, the difference with this track is the variation of the tempo utilized, as it switches for a more doom-like oriented riff at the beginning. At the 2:00 minute mark, the vocal delivery is raw and feral, it emits a pandemoniac energy, as though you can hear the cries of the possessed who is locked away in a chamber. A memorable mark point is the 4:52 mark which delves into a sludge like groovy riff with the vocals taking a more atmospheric approach, where before it felt unleashed this time it excretes a funereal gloom. The riff that starts and flows at the 5:37 mark is another instance of the shade of melancholia that shrouds the track in a bleak aura. “Framtíðin myrt”, feels like a natural flow and follow up to the previous song, as it continues along the same desolate tone. The 2:31 mark where the slow double bass combined with the fills and the faint riffs elevates the aura to a mystical level that is only increased at the 3:10 mark where the riffing increases in speed and then swerves into a sludge like feel at 3:25 which eventually culminates into a classic Black Metal riff with the tremolo picking at 3:47. It’s the mixture of these different components that solidify the song structure as one abled entity. What I mean is that, in no way does it feel fragmented but rather the different sections feel like a natural extension of the track.

“Kverkatak eilífra martraða”, the final track, carries the threads of all the previous songs. It starts with a cold riff emitting a hopeless feeling that is emphasized by the anguished vocals. A positive about this track is the riff pattern at 1:06 that is repeated throughout the song but morphed into different variations. This continues into 1:29 mark in which the riffs radiate a “BURZUM-esque” spirit then launches into the double bass at 1:48 together with the main riff. The song as a whole felt more varied as it makes use of various transitions from groove to doom elements and back into straight forward Black Metal elements. While the songs before did experiment with these components, it is this track in my opinion utilizes them more frequently.

Overall I think this is an excellent album, perhaps not the Black Metal game changer, but I don’t think that should really be the endgame here. The way I view it, is that MANNVEIRA shows that this cult is still alive and breathing, and its bands like this will keep the fires lit for many years. Another merit, is that they take different musical elements from extreme metal and shape the clay to their vision. In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this album to Black Metal fans and Extreme Metal fans overall. Hails MANNVEIRA, may your conquest be victorious wherever the road takes you!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Ópin rjúfa þögnina
2. Í köldum faðmi
3. Vítahringur
4. Framtíðin myrt
5. Kverkatak eilífra martraða
Illugi - Vocals
Jón - Drums
Örlygur - Guitars
Sindri - Guitars
Óskar þór - Bass
Record Label: Dark Descent Records


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