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Portal - Swarth CD (album) cover

SWARTH

Portal

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.53 | 7 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Swarth' - Portal (7/10)

Coming from a band with an image almost as strange and disturbed as their music, it should come as no surprise to listeners that Australian experimental death metal monsters Portal are not an easily pill to swallow. With 2009's 'Swarth', here is a forty minute barrage of noise, blastbeats, growls and inhumanly distorted riffs. Although the music of this band is sure to only appeal to a specific, particularly maniacal brand of the metal crowd, Portal take their style of deranged Lovecraftian metal and do some great things with it.

'Swarth' takes no time to get started, almost immediately throwing the listener down into a pit of nothingness. From the title track to the last moment of music here, there is a nearly unrelenting wave of harsh, abrasive sounds, with little- if any- respite to speak of. That being said, the effect of this sound is undeniable. What they may lack in variety and dynamic, Portal makes up for in atmosphere. Soundwise, Portal has a fairly unique sound for death metal, sounding like an atmospheric black metal group toned down a few octaves, and filtered through three or four added distortion boxes. Atmosphere is key here; through all of the growls, noisy waves of abrasion and heaviness, there lies a deep sense of despair and horror that stays comfortably in check with the Lovecraftian themes Portal builds around.

In terms of the performance itself, the riffs here are very technical from the sounds of it, but any intricacy is lost in the noisy foliage of the production, which is surprisingly high fidelity for such an unclear recording. Coming through most profoundly are the blistering drums of Ignis Fatuus, who never cease to amaze through their martial displays and ferocious blast beats.

Certainly no band for the weak-hearted, Portal does not compromise even slightly with their sound on 'Swarth'. Very noisy and dense, and none too light on variety, but the sheer impact is undeniable.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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