Friday, October 23, 2009

Portal Just Released the Best Metal Album of 2009




If you're a regular reader of this blog then you've probably realized by now that we're not exactly huge fans of contemporary music. With the exception of Sergeant D most of us here at Metal Inquisition stopped caring about new music right around the time Danzig released Blackacidevil. The fact of the matter is that, for the most part, new music--in particular new metal--sucks. I've tried to keep up with some of my favorite older bands and check out new ones, but nine times out of ten it leads to nothing but disappointment. It's for this simple reason that you're most likely to catch Lucho and I fighting over the ipod in his BMW with him wanting to listen to Steely Dan and me wanting to listen to Skrewdriver. From time to time, however, to my complete and total amazement a new band will come along and blow my mind to pieces. The most recent example of this that I can think of is the Australian black/death metal hybrid mindfuck that is Portal. They released their first album back in 2003 and have since then released two more albums, each better than the last, which leads me to their most recent album and masterpiece, Swarth, which was just released earlier this week by Profound Lore.


Maybe my expectations are just incredibly low now because of how shitty most new metal albums are, but of the handful of new albums I've heard this year Swarth is far and away the best. I haven't been this excited about a new album since Decrepit Birth's Diminishing Between Worlds, and I think Swarth might even end up surpassing that album's awesomeness. I'm not a poet, but I'll do my best to describe the music on Swarth--it's bleak, dense, twisted, and fucking heavy. It's one of the most unique and legitimately unsettling records I've heard in a long, long time. You can barely even make out what's going on musically; it's a whirlwind of sound threatening to collapse at any moment, but Portal somehow manages to hold it together long enough to create this ferocious and suffocating wall of sound that relentlessly marches on for a solid forty minutes. Words fail me at a time like this so if you've been as bored with recent metal releases as I've been then I highly suggest checking out Swarth and Portal's two previous albums.


Oh, and in case you've never seen what Portal looks like here's a couple of photos to pique your interest.







57 comments:

  1. hey... THANKS for turning me on to these guys, never heard of them until I just read this article and DAMN they rule!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. it's cool, but then again I'm still bored!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was probably my most anticipated release of 2009. I was not disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's "pique". "pique your interest" goddammit

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes! While most BM bands plod along and do the same thing over and over, or new bands starts and bores us to death (hello Krallice). This band comes along blows you mind to pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  6. sweet band, but they are ripping off the mentors with those black hoods

    ReplyDelete
  7. more bands SHOULD rip off the mentors!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I come here to make fun of metal, so it's awesome to come to MI and see a band I really love getting pimped here. Portal is fucking GREAT, and Profound Lore Records really releases a lot of amazing shit. I love this site.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow. You're right, this is sick and fantastic. I was expecting the typical modern day sterile "extreme metal" but this is the real deal. Thanks Mr. Balls.

    ReplyDelete
  10. welcome in 2009. this band has been around for a while.. some more great 'recent' Australian metal

    Stargazer
    Cauldron Black Ram
    Sacriphyx
    Misery's Omen

    no reason to be bored.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the props to Portal -- I haven't heard the new one yet, but I was already a big fan via the first two albums. I play in an obscure noise-metal band myself, and what I really like about Portal is the way they blur the boundary between noise and metal. They're not the only band currently rocking the hoods, though; Bloody Panda (another great and deeply twisted band with a new album on Profound Lore) have a similar image, although their sound is closer to Khanate fronted by Diamanda Galas.

    ReplyDelete
  12. band is fucking brilliant. this live clip of them playing "Glumurphonel" blew my mind. total perfection of aesthetic... and that guitar work!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emrBZZtGFgI

    ReplyDelete
  13. I couldn't disagree more. Interesting live show; awful, awful music. It's just lo-fi, pots and pans death metal.

    I'm truthfully not a huge fan of this style of metal, but I'd take Necros Christos over Portal any day.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Australia: last bastion of mediocre metal?

    ReplyDelete
  15. portal rules. the music is what i imagine death by suffocation to sound like, their imagery rules (even though it's totally over my head), and the guy with the reliquary/tabernacle on his head reminds me of chairface chippendale from the tick.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Portal AND Decrepit Birth both getting face time on MI? Nice surprise. By the way Jarad, Props for the Chairface Chipendale reference.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This album is amazing, taking somewhat standard death and black metal structures, but tweaking them them into something far more twisted than the sum of its parts. Love it.

    I feel I have to respond to the Necros Christos comment though. I can't understand the hype. Nice concept, awfully boring music.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Can we keep this to ourselves? I want Portal to be our little secret.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Interesting band.Sounds like they use all bass guitars on high/low gain like Man is the Bastard,I may be wrong.The frontman has an interesting look with that old radio(?)on his head,looks kinda uncomfortable.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Yup, ya go me too. Damn cool stuff. I really really like the presentation. They really have a David Lynch vibe without being derivative.

    It's a bummer their production isn't a little cleaner. You can't really tell how well these guys can play.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gene Hoglan's Balls have you listened to Ulcerate's recent release "Everything Is Fire"? I have a feeling you'd like it because musically they have a lot in common with Portal but their production is heaps better (not super polished, just much thicker and heavy as hell)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Portal is damn good but...did I just read that you listen to Skrewdriver? Perhaps I am out of the loop here but isn't that a white power band?? WTF?

    ReplyDelete
  23. to me this is very much like pretentious independant cinema or some shit.. people actually sitting through this garbage, just cause it's cool and real metal, when it's really just total fucking crap.

    ReplyDelete
  24. re: 'pretentious independent cinema' vs. 'real metal'

    you're the kind of person that will likely always be angry at things you don't understand. it's OK though, you can choose to accept difference. it does not come and hurt you in your little world.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Now I really like Portal but please enlighten me, how is dressing up like Bat-Man villains any less silly than what bands like Immortal does?
    And isn't this exactly the kind of beardo, hipster-metal MI usually ridicules?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Gimmick-metal. "Avant-garde" Slipknot. Take away the image, and there ain't much left. If it wasn't for the birdhouse-head, nobody would be giving too much of a flying fuck.

    ReplyDelete
  27. @ the guy that wrote "gimmick metal" and the guy worried about hipsters: have you listened to their albums? I agree, the clock on the head is the least interesting part in the whole package, but you just can't deny that musically they're in their own league. you might not like what they play, but denying that they're real innovators in real Death Metal is just silly imo (in contrast to all the bands that loose sight of the Death in Death Metal over 'technicality' or br00tality). personally I think their overall approach to artwork, atmosphere etc. is good and original. were the music weak (Immortal I'm looking at you) it would quickly turn into a farce.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I can understand why you lost interest in new music after Danzig dropped that shark sandwich. What a career killer that was.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Along with the shrinebuilder album this is the most anticipated record of 09...for me anyway....nice coverage.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I can deny that musically they are "in their own league", unless of course you mean the shit league. This is like all the really shitty Gorguts riffs were put into a blender and regurgitated by coo-coo clock head over there. Boring pretentious hipster crap. Worse than Nile.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh yeah? Well, I'm so cool and kvlt and grimm that I was already bored by Portal before they even formed!

    But seriously, somebody on another blog called them "occult mudstorm" and that's perfect. You don't listen to Portal so much as you just sort of sink down into the couch and let their songs ooze into your ears. They're like brutal death metal from another dimension - they sound like fucked-up noise to us, but Quarg from the planet Eebtron has "Swarth" on his record player and he's saying "meh - %ghDD@4 already did it better" with two of his three mouths.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Probably the greatest fraud in the underground right now, besides Averse Sefira (total posers). All this band does is dress up in silly costumes (a clock on his head? really?) and play stupid nonsense riffs and everyone thinks OOOOHH IT'S SCARY. Fucking ridiculous. Believe me, this band is laughing at all of you. The fact that so many people fall over themselves to praise this band is a really sad comment on how little people in the metal scene these days even understand music. Don't believe the hype, idiots.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Rabble, rabble! Rabble RABBLE raBBle, Metal, Rabble rabble. Blah blah blah, sucks, rabble!Rabble rabble, Hipsters, rabble rabble!!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Well, the death metal corpse has so many bloody orifices in it that SOMEBODY had to chop it up, rearrange it and sew it back it up, don't you agree? It definitely is a strange record, and it most definitely perked my ears up. It sounds like the tinnitus in my ears mixed with Nuclear Death (what is it with weird death metal coming from desert locales??) Given the shitty hipster faux metal, black metal retreads and Converge clones I'll chalk it up to more metal growing pains I'm more than happy to live/blast out my neighbors with. As far as the attire goes, at least they don't have corpse paint, right Mr. Booze?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hate to be that guy, but oddly the best i have heard of portal was on the 2006 demo production was better suiting. Kind of like the way excruciating terror always sounded better on those shitty 7" I would recommend teitanblood and dead congregation over these guys especially after hearing the atrocious drum sound on swarth.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Weird, I listened to this at a local store yesterday and decided to pick it up. I come to M.I. this morning for my daily dose of "harshing my metal" and you guys are digging it! And it's nice to see the love/hate thing going on in the comments. Personally I'd say the most overated metal band of all time is Oasis. Pure total wanna-be Black Crowes shit!

    ReplyDelete
  37. i am a HUGE oasis fan (totally serious)! their first two albums are so good!

    whoever mentioned ulcerate, yeah, i heard their new album and it's good, but nothing mindblowing.

    skrewdriver didn't become a white power band until about 1984. they released a handful of great records before then.

    and how the fuck are portal a beardo hipster metal band? wearing a clock on your head is pretty retarded, but at least it's funny!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Everybody (who likes mid-ninties britpop that is) loves Oasis except for me. I always felt, from the moment I heard "Supersonic" on, that they were the proverbial Emperor's New Clothes. I'll take Teenage Fanclub's "Howdy", Suede's debut, or even The Bluetones "Learning To Fly" over the entire recorded works of Bloatasis any day.

    And once again, kudos on the Portal! I'm spinning it right now!

    ReplyDelete
  39. i love early/mid 90s britpop.i still vividly remember visiting my family in italy when oasis first burst onto the scene and seeing the video for "live forever" on tv and instantly falling in love. i'm sure there's a good bit of nostalgia clouding my judgement, but i can still enjoy those first two oasis albums at any time. i'm also a HUGE fan of PULP. his 'n hers, different class, and this is hardcore are perfect pop records.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I don't know if Portal is hipster metal or not, but this post reminded me of when you meet some guy that's just been to a Sunn show and claims it was a "religious experience"..

    ReplyDelete
  41. My enjoyment of Pulp was always on a more song by song basis ("Do You Remember The First Time" and "Common People" being the two that most readily spring to mind).

    Last thoughts on Oasis: I'd read some articles about them before I'd ever heard them and thought they'd come across as totally moronic pricks. I too heard them for the first time via video (in my case the afor-commented "Supersonic") and, having been told they were the second coming of All That Is Great About Rock And Roll, was extremely underwhelmed. My lack of "getting it" may also have been affected by the fact that their song followed the mind blowing perfection that is Elastica's "Stutter" but who's to say at this late date?

    So glad to hear that you dig the guitar pop!

    ReplyDelete
  42. stick to metal dude.. skrewdriver released only one album (all skrewed up; 1978) before ian stuart ressurected the band with an all new line up of nazi dorks and released 'hail the new dawn' in 1984. btw; best metal album of 2009? WORLD PAINTED BLOOD.

    ReplyDelete
  43. i do like Portal, but they're not amazing enough to dissuade me from backing away before the beardos descend. death metal is the new black metal, right?

    thing is, Portal is SO fucked - to me it's a structured AxCx with monstrous riffs weaved in, plus vocals piped in from your grandad's grave - it may be unavailable for hipster misappropriation. probably not. that live show tho...

    ReplyDelete
  44. Okay maybe I was too harsh on the Portal. Their not that bad, and I don't have a big problem with the coo coo clock schtick. But the box of bees riffs is the next thing for hipster to mine. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

    http://www.metalsucks.net/2009/10/16/liturgys-hunter-hunt-hendrix-discusses-burst-beats-apophasis-and-the-process-of-ecstatic-annihilation/

    Anyways, too much box of bees riffs like Nile.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Did someone actually just use the word "poser" seriously? What's it like to live in a world where people actually pretend to like metal in order to become cooler, more desirable, and more successful? Because I can guarantee you that in this one, people laugh at you and assume that you're retarded.

    ReplyDelete
  46. barfly, are you talking to me? yes, i know skrewdriver released one album before becoming a nazi skinhead band, but they also released three 7" singles and my personal favorite skrewdriver record, the "back with a bang" 12."

    liturgy sucks dick.

    ReplyDelete
  47. cliff.. are you sure you're not just using metal as an excuse for being laughed at and actually béing retarded? the assumption that there is no such thing as posers in metal may be the most ridiculous i've read on MI. get a life; don't blame metal.

    GH ball's: you're absolutely right about skrewdriver; my bad.

    ReplyDelete
  48. barfly -

    Actually, yes. I don't get laughed at, and I know I'm not retarded.

    I reiterate my question - if posing is pretending a commitment to metal that one does not actually feel, if posing is being insincerely metal for the sake of obtaining acceptance, approval, or status...then seriously, you're doing it wrong. There's no acceptance, approval, or status to be had. Nobody's getting rich or famous off this. They're working crappy jobs between tours and getting shit for having long hair and weird tattoos. There are far better things to pretend to be if you're some kind of social climber.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Has anyone here heard the Blut Aus Nord record? To me, that's the record of the year.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I like Chiswick era Skrewdriver as well, they were a really good band for the time.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Did I land on Metalsucks by mistake????

    ReplyDelete
  52. To me the mixing/mastering on swarth
    is terrible...

    what a waste..

    or not... the music is ok i guess..

    ReplyDelete
  53. If you like Portal, check out Impetuous Ritual. Its a couple dude from Portal. Theres a free MP3 on Profund Lore Records website...Almost as twisted!

    ReplyDelete
  54. These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post

    ReplyDelete
  55. It's a informative post there is no confused .

    ReplyDelete