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PORTAL

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Australia


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Portal biography
Portal are a technical and experimental death metal band hailing from Brisbane, Australia. Formed in 1994, Portal has forged a path in the minds of many metal fans with crushingly heavy, complex and obscure death metal. Portal is not a band for the faint of heart, this is true, raw death metal, complete with gut-wrenching vocals and obscure lyrics shrowded in abstract horror and the occult. The difference between many death metal bands and Portal is that the band mixes complex and experimental concepts, in the creation of a truly heavy and creeping sound. Listening to Portal is a truly unnerving and yet compelling experience. Complementing the suffocating noise, Portal are known for their elaborate live visual elements as well, mixing Industrial era melancholy with dark nightmarish imagery - like a horror film in an old antique shop.

After releasing a demo in 1998, Portal released their first EP, The End Mills in 2002. Following that, the band then released their debut LP Seepia in 2003. The Sweyy EP followed, released in 2004, before the band released another small demo Lurker at the Threshold in 2006. Having now developed a small but rabid cult following, Portal released their second full length album Outre' in 2007, and a third album Swarth in 2009.

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Portal official website

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SeepiaSeepia
Import
Osmose Productions 2008
Audio CD$9.99
$34.45 (used)
VexovoidVexovoid
Profound Lore 2013
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PORTAL shows & tickets


  • Maryland Deathfest XIII on 21 May 2015
  • Temples Festival 2015 on 29 May 2015

PORTAL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PORTAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 8 ratings
Seepia
2003
3.08 | 7 ratings
Outre'
2007
3.55 | 4 ratings
Swarth
2009
3.33 | 6 ratings
Vexovoid
2013

PORTAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PORTAL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PORTAL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PORTAL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

PORTAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Seepia by PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.89 | 8 ratings

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Seepia
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Seepia" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian death metal act Portal. The album was released through Blacktalon Media in November 2003. Portal have made quite the name for themselves in the extreme metal underground during their existence as a band and already this early on in their career their abstract horror/occult concept and theatrical live performances (the band perform wearing costumes) were fully developed. The same can be said about their unique approach to playing death metal. They obviously had a fully developed conceptual plan from the get go and followed it.

Portal play an incredibly dense, almost suffocating, murky, dissonant and experimental form of death metal. Itīs fast, itīs brutal, murky and dark, but from there most "conventional" ideas of how death metal should sound are thrown out the window. The tracks feature unconventional structures, the riffs are twisted, distorted and dissonant and the unintelligible growling vocals are placed low in the mix. The album features a sound, that to the untrained ear, might sound like utter chaos and dissonant noise, but upon closer examination is meticulously crafted. I guess a more experimental and dissonant sounding Incantation could be mentioned as a reference, but "Seepia" is overall quite unique sounding. The abstract/occult horror atmosphere (Iīm thinking a more abstract and beastly H.P. Lovecraft) provides the album with a little extra too.

If words like experimental, odd, abstract, dissonant, intense, murky, uncompromising and chaotic spark your interest, "Seepia" is the kind of album that applies to those words. Portal skillfully weave the meaning behind the above mentioned words into their own unique take on death metal. Itīs not an easy listening experience and upon initial listens it might come off as uninviting, but "Seepia" grow upon repeated listens and I dare say I have even discovered hooks in the music over time. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved. Itīs nice to hear that there are still artists able to challenge the rather strict conventions of death metal and thereby helping the style to expand.

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 Seepia by PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.89 | 8 ratings

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Seepia
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars I can safely say that none of these songs will ever be used in a Volvo or a Gap television ad. If you're not a death metal fan, this is actually a good album to own if for no other reason than to play it to death metal fans just to hear them say things about the music that you and most of the world say concerning death metal in general. To say this album is a difficult listen is like saying Victoria Beckham is a velociraptor in disguise. That's just how it is. This may be one of the most entertaining extreme albums I've ever heard.

The overall impression one would get from a first listen would be a swirling miasma of unusual and brutal chaos interspersed with morbid creepy ambience. It has all the elements of death metal: distorted down-tuned guitars, bass, a drummer on speed, cocaine and Turkish espresso, and guttural roars for vocals. Thing is, what Portal does with these blueprints is throw them all in a nuclear blender, stir in a darker sense of atmosphere and a few spoonfuls of gloomy soundscapes, and carefully pour the results into eight wine glasses. The result is Seepia. It's delicious to the few and the proud, and a great way to clear the house of unwanted guests. It's also quite technical without being a blatant showcase of virtuosity due to the chaotic wall of sound, and it's even further removed from grindcore than death metal, although there's maybe a bit of black metal seeping through on a purely aesthetic level. The lyrics, when actually read, veer towards the Lovecraftian in nature, which adds to the final package.

The production here is a notable factor that personally elevates this album above their other efforts. The music is ridiculously chaotic, but thanks to the lack of reverb on the guitar tracks, there are plenty of instances where the horrifyingly bizarre and fast melodies rear their mottled heads to fry the brains of the listener. When the guitars do play chords on the heavier strings, they are so down-tuned they sometimes sound like a school of sharks devouring Captain Crunch (the cereal and the pirate). At other times, lower chords are dismissed in favor of weird atonal high note patterns and tremolo riffing. "Transcending a Mere Multiverse" has a multitude of decipherable musical moments showcasing the dual guitars playing some of the weirdest note patterns in sync that I've heard, even on an avant garde scale. There are no pretty arpeggios to be found anywhere near this creation. "Vessel" of Balon is notable since it's the only track to even remotely flirt with more conventional death metal, if briefly near the song's end.

The vocals aren't completely buried in the mix, and when occasional outbursts are accented with a liberal dousing of reverb, the effect is monstrous. The opening track utilizes reverb to maximum effect. The rhythm section is where these tracks are barely held together with the drummer pummeling away in a precise manner. Occasionally he'll do some odd things like accentuate certain "riffs" with high tom rolls and slow down the pace in a gradual fashion before lurching into some crazed blasting or stopping altogether. Nothing is really predictable, even the promise of extreme noise in every track since one of the numbers is basically morbid ambience. The ending of the last track is particularly unsettling as the music morphs into some weird soundscape of horror music and looped samples warped to levels by the mixing board that offer an effect of being sucked into a vortex. Fun stuff.

I enjoyed this album a great deal, even though a part of me says it's not wise to find pleasure in this piece of music. The band name is apt, since hearing Seepia is like being hurled through a portal to a terrain where music is played "wrong" yet sounds so "right". The Old Ones would boogie to this.

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 Outre' by PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.08 | 7 ratings

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Outre'
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

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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 Swarth by PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.55 | 4 ratings

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Swarth
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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.

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 Swarth by PORTAL album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.55 | 4 ratings

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Swarth
Portal Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Swarth is somewhat of an endurance test, not exactly in the "how long can I listen to this before I have to shut it off" sense, but more in the "how long can I listen to this before my bowels erupt and my stomach starts devouring itself" vein. It's actually kind of a fun game for those with strong stomachs. I mention the stomach and lower intestinal regions because the guitars here are tuned ridiculously low to the point where the guitar strings just dangle like spagetti strands and some of these plucked "notes" are too low to register as much more than a low buzz that hurts the gut. The vocals are death growls belching forth esoteric and quite odd lyrics:

"Venous Stasis Fey Terminus Lugubrious EverPuce Perforate/Disseminate Polymouth Clotting Foul Exsanguinate Psyphonetaneous Secrete!"

Lyrics like Jon Anderson's evil and completely demented twin would conjure.

The overall sound is what counts here, which is an atmosphere of absolute chaos and terror, in which this album succeeds in its aims. There is technicality in the musicianship, but that's not really the focal point to this endeavor, thus a lot of these weird riffs are blurred into this noisy maelstrom with psycho drum bashing and a cavernous production. It doesn't need to be said that this album isn't for everyone. Even many fans of extreme metal (let alone prog) have found this "too out there" or just plain bonkers. I actually don't kick back in my favorite chair and swirl a glass of brandy while listening to the soundscapes of Swarth very often (well...hardly ever, actually), but once in a rare while I can enjoy this sort of monstrous material as that rather fun endurance test I mentioned earlier, and that's probably what the band was going for when they created this thing.

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