Profound Lore Records
Australia’s Portal is one band that one can fuck with even some of the most seasoned metal fan’s head, and ever since their inception in 1994, the band has been releasing some of the most relentless, experimental death metal I have ever listened to. More than 3 years in the making, the band finally releases its fourth full length album, Vexovoid this year under the excellent Profound Lore Records.
And in true Portal fashion, the band doesn’t give any chances in the execution of their craft, with album opener Kilter immediately immersing the listener in a barrage of crushing riffs and drums, backed by the equally dark and disturbing atmosphere both by the heavily downtuned guitars and bass. One familiar with the art of Portal would immediately be put into familiar ground, with the band’s experimental style of death metal being truly one of a kind such as the sudden, seemingly random transitions between different segments and the chaotic style of playing on all the instruments. For the uninitiated, the sound of Portal on Vexovoid could perhaps best be described as a schizophrenic, bastard cross-breed between Incantation and the Portal-related band, Impetuous Ritual (and at times, a tinge of Meshuggah with that crushing low end and guitar tone). Hardly surprising, considering two-fifth of the lineup hails from the equally brilliant, though less experimental Impetuous Ritual, and this resemblance is especially so with the riffing on songs like Awryeon.
Atmosphere is key in Portal‘s music as well, and this is rather obvious right from the start of the album. The Curator’s vocals, on top of lyrics that are spat out spitefully, often act as an additional instrument in the music as well, with the low, gurgled growls helping to add a torturous dimension to the already punishing music. Furthermore, the music itself often has the effect of a cliffhanger, with the heavily trem-picked riffs and the slow to mid pace that the band goes at creating high anticipation for all hell to break loose, yet never really hitting that point, like a rubber band that is slowly getting stretched more and more tightly without any chance of relieving any of the tension. Sure, there are certainly faster moments on the album but instead of causing any relief, these pile on more and more pressure on the listener. And this is where the ingenuity of the band lies, causing the listener to constantly shift uneasily in his seat for the entirety of the album, not knowing what awaits him at the very next moment of the journey.
Love Impetuous Ritual, but find it much to easy-consumption for you? Portal‘s Vexovoid certainly sounds like a much more experimental, and much more disturbing experience than the aforementioned, and like all earlier Portal material, Vexovoid is definitely anything but easy-listening. If the band’s intention were to be as anti-social as possible, rest assured they have managed to fulfill the objective. Move aside, Ghost, these hooded men will easily rip you into shreds.