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Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Outre' - Portal (6/10)

I'll be quite frank; it can be a little difficult to sit through an entire listen of any album by Portal. This is not to say that I find the music bad or non-conducive to my tastes; I have no qualm with music that use elements of noise or are highly technical. However, the fact that this Austrailian death metal band is absolutely unrelenting in the way they barrage the listener with wave upon wave of dissonant noise and growling can wear thin even on the most seasoned listener. Maybe more interesting even for their weird-as-all-hell image and aesthetic than they are for the music itself, Portal are certainly a strange foe to contend with, but everything aside, going into Portal, one knows what they are getting into. This is a jarring listen, but for those who can cope with the noise, Portal's 'Outre' might be a refreshing kick in one's innards.

Downtuned riffs of likely jaw-dropping technicality are very often lost in an ocean of distortion and noise, but when they do peek through, it is easy to tell that the guitarists in the band can play their instruments exceedingly well; check out a live video of theirs to see what I mean. In there somewhere are drums, which do feel as if they could have done with a little more technicality, to match up with the furious guitars. Really, the only thing that manages to escape the noise are the vocals of The Curator, who churns out some of the weirdest lyrics one is bound to hear this side of The Mars Volta, but the vocal delivery does feel a little monotonous, relying on a single brand of grunt that works perfectly for the music.

While Portal may not sound too great from what has already been said, one thing they do nail down perfectly is atmosphere. Much death metal doesn't tend to evoke an honest feeling of dread in me, but Portal's noisy and dissonant expression will always at least make me feel uneasy while listening to it, in the most pleasant way of course. The problem possibly arises in the fact that Portal never changes up their sound, leaving only the breaks between songs for the listener to relax. With some sort of dynamic in their sound, 'Outre' could have seen Portal do quite a bit better. However, for the sake of their original sound and grasp of atmosphere, Portal may be worth checking out for someone with a very specific mood for noisy horror metal.

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Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink

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