Mannveira - Vítahringur review
|Release date:||July 2021|
01. Ópin Rjúfa Þögnina
02. Í Köldum Faðmi
04. Framtíðin Myrt
05. Kverkatak Eilífra Martraða
If I can confidently say anything about the 2010s, it is that it was the decade of Icelandic black metal. Mannveira have spent a significant portion of that decade cooking up Vitahríngur.
Before we talk about Mannveira, let's talk about Icelandic black metal, as if we didn't already do enough of that. Of course that there was Icelandic black metal prior to the 2010s, with some cult classics like Potentiam's Bálsýn, but everything that is left of that scene has moved on to either Sólstafir, Katla., Kontinuum and Vetur. But come 2010 there was a huge explosion of Icelandic black metal. For the first half of the decade you had a bunch of instant classics from Svartidauði, Sinmara, Wormlust, Carpe Noctem, Misþyrming, 〇, and each of these has run into the pattern of taking a lot of time to releasing a pretty worthy and mature follow-up. The latter half of the decade also saw some other acts cropping up, riding the wave of hype with some worthy music of their own, but right now Icelandic black metal has became such a "cash cow" term that we have drama regarding whether or not Frummyrkrið are actually Icelandic or just using the tag to ride the hype train.
And here come Mannveira. I listened to it precisely because of how attracted I still am to the "Icelandic black metal" term. But the truth is I don't expect as much from it compared to how much I did five years ago. In such a small country, it's bound that there would be some incestuous scene, hence why so many of Mannveira's members activate in a bunch of other bands, whether as full or live members. And actually the band has been around since 2010, so they have been part of that big early wave back when they were just the solo project of Illugi Kristinsson, and the 2014 EP Von Er Eitur is certainly quite an overlooked piece of that scene. But now comes the actual full-length, as a full-fledged band, and I'm trying not to let the context of the entire scene bias me in any way, but I think it came a bit too late.
My listening experience with Vitahríngur switches between "This is fantastic black metal" to "I've heard this before so many times". I don't want to paint Vitahríngur as neither completely unoriginal nor a breath of fresh air in the scene. There are some things it does a bit differently, in regards to its pace being a tad slower overall, and the atmosphere being a bit less cavernous. Mannveira are fantastic musicians and they managed to craft a damn fine black metal album that has a lot going for it, but what it mostly does is showcasing just why the Icelandic sound got this big in the first place, without necessarily bringing enough on the table to show that it can properly pass into a new decade. The long wait in between releases is a staple for Icelandic bands, but for me it botched Vitahríngur's chances of not being held by higher originality standards.
But hey, maybe it says something for Iceland when even the albums I criticize for not being original within their scene are still comfortably better than most of the black metal releases I check out. This is competent, and perhaps even more than competent at times. And it's hard to find an album with a better ending than this. I just find it hard to talk specifically about it when my mind keeps racing to the scene as a whole, and I don't think it's only my fault here.
||Written on 02.08.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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