Australian outfit Portal delivered the droning and cacophonous
Seepia (Profound Lore, 2003),
one of the most original death-metal albums since
an evil symphony of squealing metallic guitars and
spastic blasting drumming performed inside a forest of
chaotic guitar noise.
Glumurphonel morphs slowly from an electronic vortex into a
cacophonous free-jazz assault. The growl and blastbeats death-metal emerge
from the most unlikely of premises.
Guitar acrobatics highlights the pummeling brevity of
Vessel Of Balon.
The carpet bombing of Tempus Fugits is buried under a layer of
guitar madness and rolling drums.
Transcending A Mere Multiverse is hijacked by irregular guitar trajectories.
It is often the guitar that keeps the "blast" tempo, letting the drums
intone more original patterns.
The more moderate Atmosblisters builds up its atmosphere via a
more humane growl and tribal drumming.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is The Endmills,
that descends into pure voiceless cacophony via studio effects and layers
of instrumental anarchy.
Outre (Profound Love, 2007) was perhaps less chaotic and dissonant but even more irregular,
focusing their superhuman firepower and technique on building up a sheer sense
The vortex that opened the previous album morphs into an even more disturbing
nightmare in Moil. It is later reprised with even more tragic overtones
in the brief Outre'.
The guitar work in Abysmill approached mere abstract soundscaping.
Heirships picks up some static noise and builds a complex but agonizing
architecture on top of it. There is a bass melody hidden behind the noise that
could be from a horror soundtrack.
Black Houses leaves a similar "agonizing" feeling, as the music morphs
under the thundering weight it is carrying.
13 Globes continues in that direction, progressively loosening its
The seven-minute Sourlows, their longest composition yet, leverages
that looser definition of death-metal and their sense of suspense to enter
a cinematic dimension, telling the (musical) story rather than just screaming
Ordinary blastbeats still rule in Omnipotent Crawling Chaos
but the guitar de facto follows a slower, zombie-like tempo that eventually
evokes tribal drums next to the blastbeats.
Swarth (Profound Lore, 2009) was another work of pure excess (rhythm,
instruments, dynamics) that perfected the previous album's intuition and
continued to reivent death-metal. The development of
Swarth is jarring and nonlinear, almost stuttering. That segues into
the industrialminimalist repetitive patterns of Larvae, coalescing into
an unforgiving frenzy.
The Swayy, on the other hand, is a mean, percussive wall of sound from
beginning to end. However, even the most extreme "death" moments tend to hide
countless detours and variations.
The granitic core of Writhen is weakened by countless second thoughts:
it almost feels like the song never really started.
That "indecision" actually makes Omenknow sound more anthemic, with an
instrumental middle that works well as a launching pad for the melodramatic
A new record of length is set by the eight-minute Werships that begins
with maximum suspense driven by intense guitar repetition before the growling
voice intones its miserable recitation. Then the song's unity collapses.
The seven-minute instrumental Marityme went the opposite way, starting
with disjointed counterpoint and then launching into a colossal demonic
gallop, possibly the emotional zenith of their career.
In the meantime, Impetuous Ritual, featuring members of Portal, released
Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence (Profound Lore, 2009).
Portal returned with the brief Vexovoid (Profound Lore, 2013), another
dense and frightening experience of blackened death metal.
Now a quintet with two guitarists, one more atonal than the other,
Portal unleashes the industrial hell of Kilter, whipped by
blizzards of repetitive riffs,
and assembles the
extravagant unstable dynamics of songs like The Back Wards.
Tempo shifts abound and disorient.
Plasm matches grandiloquent growling with massive distortion, but then it settles on a collective whirling roaring effect leading to a coda of billowing harsh drones like a tidal wave of magma.
The blastbeats of Awryeon suddenly stop and concoct a mechanic march
of radioactive robots.
The relentless firestorm of Curtain dies out in an agonizing coda.
Portal are inventive and unpredictable, although they have lost quite a bit
of their youthful magnetism
The production is less chaotic on ION (Profound Lore, 2018)
so that one can better appreciate the harsh atonality of the guitars,
particularly in Esp Ion Age and in the apocalyptic wall of distortion of Spores. The uncontrolled frenzy of Phreqs sounds a bit
self-indulgent, but the shredding and demonic Husk is a powerful
Alas, the lengthy closer Olde Guarde is far less convincing.
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