Monday, 14 January 2019

Portal "Ion" (2018)

Its January and that means digging through various 2018 top lists for last years treats I missed out on. Australian Experimental Death Metal band Portal caught my eye but not my ear. Its been a drag to see out this record which aims to deconstruct and reassemble Extreme music into the ugliest form imagined. The result is almost unbearable but with some tolerance and repeated exposures to this decadence, little magics were reveal below the surface bar one or two sparse incidents.

Assaulting with scratchy jarring guitar tones, Portal create blocks of sound out of maddening disjointed fretting noise that's mostly discernible. Lacking any rhythm, groove or melody its becomes a pure rebellion of established ideas and an experiment unto its own. Working with tension, disharmony and atonality the songs bleed into an anti-music mess, they all seem one and the same. Perhaps only Spores makes a mark in being even more wretched and disgusting with an injection of harsh noise and teeth clenching distortion that is at least of interest through aesthetic curiosity.

Each track amasses an arsenal of estranged guitar torture to burrow through in bursts of blast beats between build ups that seem to interchange with the roll of a dice. Not even a sense of momentum is reasonable. In its best moments it reminded me of the scattering, sludgy madness of a young Morbid Angel and discovering Death Metal for the first time, putting together the pieces behind the musics brutal and abrasive aesthetic. When ever a glimpse of that same magic starts to form its swiftly cast down by the shifting intensities that also work to dispel its brief and fleeting atmospheres.

Its most favorable aspect is singer "Horror Illogium" who consistently puts forth a one-dimensional whisper-like throaty growl that wouldn't sound out of place in a conventional Death Metal band. It feels like the only thing grounding the record but he too is a dull roar. Its entirely possible that I am missing the point, not connecting the dots and I'll probably give It a try every now and then but after five attempts its turned into a snooze fest of ideas that seem designed to disgust than inspired to incite.

Rating: 2/10