Portal - _Outre_
(Profound Lore Records, 2007)
by: James Montague (8.5 out of 10)
After so many years of listening to extreme metal, it is a rare pleasure to hear something genuinely unsettling, just as Suffocation redefined brutality with _Pierced From Within_ and Mayhem paralysed the listener with the pure malevolence of _De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas_ back in the day. The latter pushed black metal in more bizarre and abstract directions earlier this year with _Ordo ab Chao_, and Portal seems to be doing something similar with _Outre_, their second full-length album.

Portal originally made their name within the underground back in 2003 with _Seepia_, which although released on a small label created quite a buzz with its uniquely atmospheric style of death metal. I remember describing it at the time as "death metal played on a gramophone during the Blitz" -- its swarming, crackling sound really did sound like B-52's hovering overhead, broadcasting death to millions. Now with _Outre_, the band have taken the listener into another dimension altogether. The atmosphere is best described by the title of the fourth track: "Omnipotent Crawling Chaos". The claustrophobic riffs are like tendrils creeping across the earth, wrapping themselves around a foot, climbing towards the neck.

Listening to _Outre_ with the lights out I can feel my head spin; I feel like I am walking on an angled plane with the infinite darkness of space all around me, and only leafless trees around me; the trees have faces and branches that reach out to embrace me and petrify me. The cover art enhances this vision: living chess pieces casting death on this nightmarish plane. The seepia look is maintained, the bizarrely-attired band members still photographed in early 20th century fashion. This is, quite simply, fucking frightening music. The title track, a horrifying noise, will make you shit.

It is difficult to review Portal albums in the conventional metal journalistic sense. Sure, it's got the guitars, the drums, the death metal vocal. But none of these are really performed in a conventional sense that allows one to qualify them in any meaningful way. Much of the time it is difficult to tell how fast or in what scale or pattern the instruments are playing; the music, such as it is, is more of a cloud of noise, a swarm of locusts. All one can do is let the plague wash over, then try to pick oneself up afterwards.

Listening to Portal is an exhausting, mind-altering experience. A dangerous yet exhilarating and addictive drug. Prepare to be terrified by the one death metal band that does not play by the rules.

Contact: http://www.portalabode.com/

(article published 2/12/2007)

2/14/2010 S Martin 9.5 Portal - Swarth
11/15/2006 T DePalma 5 Portal - Lurker at the Threshold
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