Portal. How do you describe such a group? Portal are a band that seem to be known to few and enjoyed by even fewer, to say they are on the periphery and edge of death and black metal is an understatement, they are a band that will challenge and perplex even the most studious adept of extreme music.
Portal are a band that inhabit the niche of Death/Black metal, niche for the fact the music they make is on the precipice of sheer extremity, I find an irony that this review follows Tribulation's newest release, a band who similarly claim to be death/black as well, yet these bands have so little in common, it’s like comparing Britney Spears to Napalm Death. To describe Portal's music to those who have not heard it, is hard; imagine a symbiote between Deathspell Omega and Gorguts...in the midst of a blender. Their music is a dark, swirling, complex art. I will confess to having tried repeatedly at times gone by, to get into them and it wasn't until their last album "Vexovoid" that I really started appreciating and understanding the band fronted by a clock.
Their latest release, "ION", is no less of an intense and challenging listen, within a Portal album you will be hard-pressed to find a riff that sings to you or a section that grooves, there is naught but a cacophony of brutality. The compositions are complex with wild guitar parts and spastic drumming, overseen by menacing vocals. There's not really an opinion I can give about particular songs, the album flows jaggedly from one track to the next but moments of brilliance such as those guitars on "Spores" and the onslaught of "Esp Ion Age" rear their head from the abrasiveness from time to time.
As early as we are into the year I feel that this will be a strong contender through 2018, by no means do I expect this album to find appeal with a lot of metalheads, it is too devoid of melody to find appeal with most black metal fans, too spasmodic to find a home amongst those death metal fans obsessed with the warm dark groove and too extreme for most of those in love with experimental 'extreme' metal, yet, for some, those that appreciate bands like Ævangelist, Mitochondrion, Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega there are great things to be found within.
One description that keeps leaping to mind to describe Portal and this album is the title of a sing from Deathspell Omega's stellar EP "Drought" — "Abrasive Swirling Murk". This album is dark, obsidian, it's Vantablack, a piece of work so far across the line from normal, and this earth, it is deep within a black hole; a portal to something bleak, chaotic and crushing.
Reviewed by Dan
Main pic — Blood Sucking Geek