Music

Portal: Vexovoid

Portal furrow further inside your headspace than ever before to unearth a surreal realm of Lovecraftian proportions.


Portal

Vexovoid

US Release: 2013-02-19
UK Release: 2013-02-25
Label: Profound Lore
Amazon
iTunes

The collective malformity known as Portal have now returned from the netherworld (or Brisbane, Australia as it’s also known) with their latest malignant threnody entitled Vexovoid. One of the more severe attractions from Profound Lord’s indomitable stable, Portal -- comprising five charming gentlemen known only by convoluted pseudonyms, their identities shrouded by executioner masks, and sometimes even a grandfather clock in the case of vocalist The Curator -- have summoned an ungodly cult following over the course of their 18 year existence.

Emerging beyond the subterranean extreme metal consciousness with their second LP Outre’, released in 2007 by the already well-established Profound Lord, Portal’s unorthodox amalgam of mysterious aesthetics, cavernous death metal, black metal’s atmospheric decay, and the perverse tonality of the avant-garde, plagued those foolish enough to expose their psyches to the terror this band evoked. Outre’ received critical acclaim, and as a consequence, Portal’s 2003 debut Seepia was re-mastered and re-released in 2008, with the writhing pandemonium of Swarth closely following suit in 2009, both of which were devoured by an eager, ever-growing audience.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact essence of what makes Portal so appealing to those outside the deepest reaches of death metal’s underground when sonically they sound so pitiless -- but maybe that’s the charm. There is nothing welcoming found within the horror-scapes and gruesome murk, yet Portal continue to thrive with Vexovoid, their much anticipated metal release for early 2013. Adorned with Reverend Kriss Hades’s depiction of an array of probing tentacles centred by a brain; the booklet itself made from vellum -- an under-utilized, archaic canvas made from calfskin; one which may send PETA into hysteria -- the music of Vexovoid is akin to its artwork: an intellectual and monstrous creation of the bizarre.

Throughout this record, Portal’s aural disharmony constantly pushes the limits of the listener to breaking point, and because of the magnetism of the songwriting and the sheer power of this record’s production, which coagulates the instrumentation into one heaving organism, Portal furrow further inside your headspace than ever before to unearth a surreal realm of Lovecraftian proportions. "Kilter" sets this abomination of your senses in motion through alternating, incongruent sequences of disorientating blasts with the Curator’s dry, serpentine growl crawling between the relentless instrumentation. Right from the start it becomes clear that there is method to the sonic madness of Vexovoid, and Portal have been meticulous when it comes to arranging each song. "The Back Wards" and "Plasm" drone with the subsonic bass taking the charge, complimented by a sinister streak that is reminiscent of Mayhem’s avant-garde black metal masterwork, Ordo Ad Chao. While songs the quality of "Curtain" are allowed to pulse and breathe organically, as the hellacious passages are given space to seemingly subside at will before returning with greater repetitious force.

It’s this extreme balance between order and chaos found within Portal’s mastery of dynamics which leaves the feeling that the listener is constantly being toyed with. The warped death metal of "Awyreon" increases the intensity of the blasting riff variations almost to the point of apoplexy, and the shorter but no less shattering "Orbmorphia" whips up a bass-heavy maelstrom full of tangible riffs and fork-tongued vocals -- the Curator’s Attila Csihar-worthy performance is terrifying overall.

Vexovoid justifies the hype hoisted upon Portal’s shrouded shoulders, and through the cerebral nature of the songwriting, which suppresses the band's urge to just bludgeon wildly, this record is as multidimensional as Portal have ever sounded. This enigmatic band, along with disciples Mitochrondrion and Antediluvian, are leading the way through death metal’s blackened underbelly. Slither on fellas.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Music

Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.

Music

Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.

Music

'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Music

Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.

Music

Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.

Music

Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.