This new Mánþiel (or Mantiel, if you prefer an easier version of their band name) album is one that will only have a vinyl release, done by one of Europe’s best underground Black Metal purveyors: Inferna Profundus Records from Lithuania. This all adds to the overall ambiance that resonates through ‘Vestiges Engraved In Frozen Mysticism’.
The international trio, consisting of two Germans and Chilean jack-of-all-trades Lord Valtgryftåke, follows up ‘Obskurité’, released in 2022, with this new album. That previous album was characterised by a sound reminiscent of a Lo-Fi Inquisition. On that album, Lord Valtgryftåke’s raspy vocals in particular get boring pretty quickly. The musical content, on the other hand, was certainly of a solid level, although somewhat standardly executed. On ‘Vestiges Engraved In Frozen Mysticism’, the band thankfully throws in a different tack. While the band certainly does not show itself to be more versatile and the music is in fact a fairly logical continuation of the previous work, it does sound a bit more appealing. Partly because the monotonous rasp has disappeared and Lord Valtgryftåke’s vocals have been pushed a bit more into the background, the repetitive nature of the music, the band’s very core business, now gets full attention. The hypnotic atmosphere is only occasionally interrupted by some acoustic interludes, which does, however, add to the much-needed diversity.
Musically, this is an ode to underground Black Metal as it was made so near the end of the 90’s and early 00’s. It therefore has clear common ground with, for instance, Sargeist’s first (and best) album (‘Satanic Black Devotion’) and a host of Eastern European bands from the same period. So it is of no surprise that a Raven Dark cover was chosen on this album, a band from the famous (or infamous) Russian BlazeBirth Hall scene. Although the song has a somewhat smoother tempo and even features some Isengard-like more clean vocals, it still fits in perfectly.
I am certainly not an outspoken fan of Lord Valtgryftåke’s work, but lately he manages to surprise me with some of his many musical outings. And that includes this latest Mánþiel work, which is without any doubt the best offering by this illustrious trio.