Portal – For All That is Damned to Vanish

portal band_pic studio

    The release of a new album after thirteen years from Swedish death metallers Portal might not mean a great deal to those like us only now discovering a band which emerged in 1996, but on the strength and quality of For All That is Damned to Vanish, to their fans it must be quite an exciting occasion. Without tearing down trees in originality, the Vic Records released blaze comes with a captivating body and accomplished deportment which hits all the right spots for a melodic death metal adventure. Spicily varied and with a ravenous intensity to intimidate and enthral, the nine track fury is a definite must check out proposition.

    Portal first made an acclaimed mark with debut album Forthcoming in 2001, which itself followed the decently received demo The Prophet three years earlier. Since that album it has been simply quiet from the band, certainly on the recordings front until now. Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Kristian Kaunissaar, guitarist Stefan Johansson, bassist Emil Koverot (Blodsrit, ex-Carve), and drummer Matthias Fiebig (Blodsrit, Bloodgut, ex-Carve, Mordenial, ex-Paganizer, ex-Ribspreader, ex-Zombified), the Västervik / Stockholm based quartet look to re-ignite earlier awareness and enthusiasm for them with For All That is Damned to Vanish, something the album will easily achieve and more you suspect.

     As soon as the drums barbarously pound voraciously on the ears as riffs and an instantly infectious groove lays its grip on the portal front_coverimagination for the opening of In the Steps of Forgotten Gods, you can feel a rich temptation brewing. It is an enticement soon realised as the intensity increases to ebb and flow around the sonic endeavour veining the track. The hoarse grizzled delivery of Kaunissaar adds to the causticity just as eagerly as that which is gnawing away alongside the infectious melodies and grooves, his vocals aided by the backing of Johansson to great effect especially in the rarer clean moments. Every aspect of the track combines for an incendiary torrent of inventive adventure and technical skill which ok is not setting new boundaries but easily ignites ears and passions which is just as preferable.

   The strong start is soon reinforced and pushed by The Grand Gesture, a track rippling with muscular contempt and sonic creativity within a grazing squall of sound and passion. Again a seductive groove makes an irresistible temptation into the merciless tempest leaving an awakened appetite greedier, its hunger soon fed with the same potency and appeal by On Far Trails and The Wild and the Furious. The first of the pair uncages a torrent of acerbic riffing and vicious rhythms whilst vocally a fusion of guttural spite and clean harmonies keep things intriguing and unpredictable, baiting the imagination as enjoyably as the maze of sonic and melodic enterprise spiralling around its brawl. Its successor is seeded in the same maelstrom though with a slightly more laboured and deliberate gait within a violently offensive and thrilling barrage from Fiebig. Employing evocative textures and caresses within its savagery, the song its predecessor feed the ears and emotions with healthy slabs of metallic brutality wrapped in sonic fascination.

    As In Chase for the Sun enters on a similar charge and flavouring to the previous track there is a similarity which pervades the album provoking a need to focus all that more to pick out the individual traits and treats each song offers but it is not as much a defect than a distraction in the flow of things even after numerous encounters. The track itself like the following A Marschmans Belief nevertheless provides a thoroughly satisfying and magnetic experience to endorse the album over.

    The Celebration of My Fall brings a less intensive offensive, its slower provocative entrance a canvas for further impressive guitar invention and craft whilst bass and drums stalk the senses as a mutual incitement to the vocal predation which again comes in a flavoursome array of styles to match the sound. The slow burner of a track which increases its lure and contagion the more it graces the ears, is surpassed by Kamp, a rampaging scourge of a song armed with a horde of rhythms and a riot of riffery to fall giants and crush walls. As every other song, the track twists and fights around its core intent without losing control of its purpose and magnetism to leave another strongly pleasing scar on the psyche.

    For All That Is Damned to Vanish closes with the very decent instrumental Curse of the Fifth Crown. It is a fine end to a powerful and admirable release full of fascinating exploits and skilled adventure. As stated earlier the release will not have you singing from the rooftops but neither will restraint in appreciation and pleasure be a frequent part of reactions you suspect. With a touch of Amon Amarth about it, quite simply the album and Portal provides a refreshing addition to melodic death metal history, a more than worthy reason to check it out.



Ringmaster 28/02/2014

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