Portal (Australian band)
|Origin||Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|
|Genres||Death metal, black metal|
|Associated acts||StarGazer, Impetuous Ritual|
Portal is an Australian extreme metal band known for its unorthodox fusion of death metal with black metal. The band's hybrid musical style is characterised by heavily distorted guitar riffs, down-tuned rhythms, and vocals ranging from "menacing, echoing" sound effects to guttural grunts. Writing for Popmatters, Adrien Begrand noted that "death metal always pretends to be scary, but [...] it's all rather harmless. That said, however, I make no mistake in saying that the death metal peddled by Australia’s Portal is truly friggin' terrifying". Lead guitarist Horror Illogium has described Portal's intent as "to capture a cinematic horror scope".
Portal's main musical influences were Morbid Angel, Beherit, and Immolation. Describing the band's style, Decibel magazine said: "If Morbid Angel and Gorguts had birthed a German Expressionist child, that unholy creature would be Portal." The band has been praised for its "hellish atmosphere" and "distant, obscure" interpretation of extreme metal. Denise Falzon, writing for Exclaim!, described Portal's 2004 EP, The Sweyy, as "extremely raw [...] with heavily distorted guitar riffs that aid in the album's overall chaotic and apocalyptic atmosphere". The band's style has also been described as oriented around "constant dissonance", "sporadic compositions", and "abstract themes". However, lead guitarist Horror Illogium has disputed the view that the band's songwriting lacks structure: "We are indeed making songs, although our structures are unusual. They are constructed with a great deal of artistic, obsessive scrutiny [...] An insane asylum is a structure; our songs can be viewed as structures housing insane elements".
Asked if Portal's exploration of extreme music could eventually move beyond the scope of death metal, Horror Illogium responded that:
Portal explores depth and atmosphere in the aim of a descriptive soundscape. The term "extreme" would not really apply to us in the context that other bands would use: the fastest blastbeat or the most technical guitar work. That kind of mindframe as though it is a sport is sickening! Extreme for the sake of extreme in any regard has no place in our art. The feeling must flow, exploring different planes of darkness and atmosphere. There is no interest in taking the main core of Portal beyond Metal at all. In fact, we don't feel as though this form of Death Metal has reached its greatest potential yet.
While some critics have noted a "lack of production quality" and "unrefined, murky sound" on Portal's albums, Horror Illogium countered that the band spends considerable time consciously "exploring different equipment for guitar tones with enough articulation as well as dirt". Stating that "there are only so many frequencies that can share a space," he indicated that Portal's approach involved striking "a balance to allow the instruments to spill forth and explode when necessary. This will give a more detailed soundscape and accentuate the impact and depth of certain sections of music".
The band members keep their identities obscured and use stage names. Their costumes are composed of "suits and executioners' masks save for vocalist The Curator, who wears a huge, tattered wizard's hat that obscures his face".
The idea for these costumes was developed by The Curator and Horror Illogium, who were inspired by fashion of the 1920s and imagery created by actor Lon Chaney, Sr. in a few of his roles from the silent film era which, according to Horror Illogium, was the ideal figure that the band wanted to portray. Horror Illogium remarked that "anonymity has never been the modus operandi. It is the feeling we ourselves are subjected to, they [the costumes and stage names] serve as vessels for our escape".
Lyrical themes and musical concepts
The band cites as inspiration for its lyrical themes the entities mentioned in Lovecraft Mythos, such as Nyarlathotep, Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, and Cthulhu. According to a recent interview, however, their lore is deeply set in other writings. Guitarist Horror Illogium stated that Lovecraft was barely more than a mentioning in their early days, and they have since developed their own mythos. Portal has defined this as the Olde Guarde, their 'sect' according to the interview, who promote ideas of the Vint-Age, which is Portal' usage of references to old technology, esoteric writings, and Victorian/Edwardian culture.
- The Curator – vocals (1994–present)
- Horror Illogium – lead guitar (1994–present)
- Aphotic Mote – rhythm guitar (2003–present)
- Ignis Fatuus – drums (2007–present)
- Omenous Fugue – bass (2009–present)
- Werm – bass (2002–2005)
- Mephitic – drums (2002–2005)
- Elsewhere – bass (2006)
- Monocular – drums (2006)
- Phathom Conspicuous – bass (2007–2008)
- Portal (1998)
- Lurker at the Threshold (2006)
- Begrand, Adrien (26 October 2007). "Portal: Outré". Popmatters. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- Lake, Daniel (April 2013). "Scattered and Covered: Portal's Masks of Sanity Slipped a Long Time Ago". Decibel (102): 39.
- Campbell, Jason. "Portal interview". Voices from the Dark Side. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- Lee, Cosmo (December 2009). "Bizarre death metallers bring the thunder from down under". Decibel. Retrieved 26 July 2010.[dead link]
- Gorania, Jay H. "Portal - Swarth". About.com. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- Falzon, Denise (December 2009). "Swarth review". Exclaim!. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- Martin, S. (14 February 2010). "Portal - Swarth". Chronicles of Chaos. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- Lee, Cosmo (18 November 2009). "Interview: Portal (Aus)". Invisible Oranges. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- Raggi IV, James Edward (4 February 2009). "Portal interview". Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Portal biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- Official website (Broken link; leads to godaddy.com)