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Album Reviews : Portal – Vexovoid

By on April 19, 2013

PrintPortal is one of those bands that some people will understand, and others will not.  Some are repelled by what they perceive as poor and messy production, musicianship or a lack of musicality altogether. I myself found the band at just the right time when I was able to see past what would cloud others minds; the noisy whirring atmospheres, the abstract and chaotic guitars, the primal and ritualistic drumming and the unearthly and summoning vocalisations.

My introduction to Portal was their previous release, Swarth, an album that is now solidified as one of my all time favourite albums. I simply knew that even though I didn’t know what exactly I was experiencing, despite a vast experience in underground metal, that it was something almost literally out of this world, and spawned from the Lovecraftian realms and gods that source as inspiration for the majority of the bands lyrical material. Since then I have obtained and somewhat religiously listened to all of their releases, and was thrilled at the news of a new album. That album is Vexovoid, released February this year,  is certainly one of Portals strongest releases, and does not fail the band in anyway.

The album starts off with “Kilter” a song that begins the album by exploding through the speakers, hurdling towards the listener like some unstoppable monolithic freight train from hell, emitting some kind of engulfing miasma, intoxicating the air around and suffocating everything that breathes.
The song sets the pace for the rest of the album. An album that is as thick as a slab of ancient stone, and as mysterious and eerie as the tomb the stone was pulled from.

“Curtain” stands as the most accessible song on the album, and could even be considered a crowd pleaser. Opening with three booming tom hits and then exploding suddenly into a haunting melody, setting the stage for this song to be somewhat of an anthem. It seems that the songs focal point of the song is the simple and bleak melodious riff, a moment that would induce mass pumping and head banging for sure. The rest of the songs follow in the ways Portal has explored before, but have found their own unique theme and identity. All hold their own weight and exhibit terror and unearthly horror upon the listeners, each having their own moments of insanity, doom, drone and chaos.

“Oblotten” is the bands closing track, connected to the previous song “Orbmorphia” by way of a Meshuggah esque clean guitar and is an instrumental song focusing mostly on the layers of guitars playing eerie and unsettling chords that slowly fade out, leaving that same clean guitar to play slowly, and ringing out, like the final wisps of a dying fires smoke.

The album is also noticeably weightier and clearer in production than previous releases. This does the bands use of 8 stringed guitars justice, allowing them to create some truly abysmal and crushing riffs and atmosphere. Some fans may say this makes the band sound too accessible, while others might see it as Portal peeling off a layer so that the true nature of the music is not hindered and the horror experienced is even clearer and visible to the listener.

I would recommend this album and band to any fan of extreme black and death metal, and anyone who wishes to experience something different, and has the patience to find something within the lurid and murky emanations of their creation.

Band: Portal
Album: Vexevoid
Year: 2013
Genre: Death metal
Label: Profound Lore Records
Origin: Brisbane, Australia
facebook.com/PORTALDEATH

Track list:
1. Kilter
2. The Black Wards
3. Curtain
4. Plasm
5. Awryeon
6. Orbmorphia
7. Oblotten

About

Timothy Richmond, AKA Mothlord is currently the vocalist for the Melbourne death metal band The Seraphim Veil. In his spare time he is an avid gamer, enjoyer of films, music lover symbiotically attatched to his iPod, artist and occasional freelance illustrator at Mothlord Art & Design.