Review: Portal “Outre'” [Profound Lore Records]

Review: Portal “Outre'” [Profound Lore Records]

- in Reviews
Rating 77%
Nightmare death metal
77 %
User Rating : 5 (1 votes)

Before I attempt to describe this music with as much detail as possible, I would encourage any curious listener out there to think of acquiring a teddy bear to hang onto during this aural experience that can only be described if by just one word as nightmarish. The tracks typically start off with abrupt bursts of brutal death metal energy before settling into a spontaneous hypnotic state of perpetual dread; like the torturous and endlessly circular squirming motions felt during a nightmare; somewhere between the writhing sensations of Immolation and later Morbid Angel with its low-tuned grueling riffs and triplet blast beats, and the influences here are fairly obvious although taken to a new extreme. Where both the latter bands may only be experimental within each different individual riff in songs that otherwise bear a sort of cohesiveness, Portal make it a point to extend the chaos way past the point of singular oddities and craft songs that are essentially aberrations in their entirety. There are no moments of rest or the faintest escape from the ongoing hallucinatory ordeal, no relent and no glimmer of hope. This is a deep, dark place, with every corner in sight barren and moribund, completely subterranean and oppressive – death metal seen through a lens of obsidian black and with no possible return from the terrible dream.

It’s a vision of Hell perspiring an anguish too profound to even be interpreted at the surface like any other music. It seems to speak to the subconscious in hopes of awakening an innermost scorn for existence from the audience. It doesn’t communicate in a way that most music does, that is immediately soliciting the listener’s pleasure senses and making itself a consumable good for the greater metal public. Instead it pulls in the individual and imposes the challenge of looking deep inside one’s self, in a most introspective effort to unlock tangible vistas dyed with personal experience that this may exchange with through abstract yet very real meaning. As to mirror the album cover, the music is colorless and dwells in a realm of monochromatic grotesque shapes, exaggerated and warped to elude meaning in its common structured approach, only highlighted by the delineating shadows for a twofold minimalist contrast of what is shown and its outlined perspective.

Musically, the guitar parts are soaked in constant dissonance whether on the steadier chord strum sections, on the lugubrious harmonized tremolo picking or on the more dramatic full chord outbreaks. What’s particular to this album is it feels chaotic but with an odd feeling of steadiness simultaneously. The erratic dissonance and forceful drum work of largely blast beat variations seem to put the listener in a state of mild catalepsy, like an odd trance where one loses a good part of their perception from before playing the record and settles into this coma like experience. The riffing does actually get technical and highly active, and doesn’t just focus on sheer texture, but the production being so intentionally lackluster and morose it doesn’t exactly jump at the audience like a typical modern tech-death album from 2007 would. The tracks will also occasionally slow down and offer more ponderous doomier voids of terror (outros to ‘Abysmill’ and ‘Black Houses’), like the band are taking the listener deeper down the rabbit hole.

The weird tracks are interspersed with even weirder short “instrumental” breaks if those can be referred to as that – the intro track being a good example for what to expect later. The vocals would remind one of Morbid Angel’s Steve Tucker as they share a similar voice timbre, dense but screamy. The bass is present yet discreet, and will come to the foreground and add its metallic flavor on scarce occasions like the middle section in ‘Globes’, which is simply a flat-out atonally harmonized chromatic spiral down into oblivion, like a descent into one’s own perdition.

The album finale and deliciously optimistically named ‘Sourlows’ showcases a little bit of that black metal/Deathspell Omega like atmospheric open chord picking at the start, appearing again at the end, before plunging right into Immolation type horrifying death metal turbulence; and as the album comes to a halt after 36 some minutes, the noisy musical dust from whence it came returns to guide the listener safely back to shore, where they’ll happily find solid ground to lay their two feet on. Only problem is: the teddy bear has been ripped to pieces without realizing it and now the prospects of having to explain it to their sister dawns on them.

Release date: September 11th, 2007

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