Monday, October 7, 2013

Portal - Vexovoid

Review by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Cover art by Kriss Hades

Heavy metal, as a genre, embraces and encourages strangeness. Works based upon eldritch, Lovecraft-ian evil are almost commonplace. Profound Lore has set itself apart as a label both by the quality and uniqueness of the releases it has put out. But even in this context, Portal stand out as exceptionally weird. Based in Australia, the band members label their music death metal, but that term does nothing to capture the alien, insectoid nature of their sound. Known for their gripping live shows, which see the band members don face-obscuring costumes, Portal are led by the towering Curator, who's been known to wear everything from a massive clock headpiece to tentacles on his hands, and spidery guitarist Horror Illogium.

Photo by brandi.

Portal are a band that never break character and Vexovoid is their fourth full-length release (along with two demos and two EPs), continuing their well-established theme of creating deep feelings of dread, alienation and confusion in the listener, all through exquisitely made and intelligently deployed aural assaults. The record gives new meaning to the phrase "ear worm" — these are not friendly tunes stuck in your head, but a carnivorous sound burrowing towards your sweet neo-cortex with every shrieking chord and shuddering drum blast. The Curator's voice is a dry, spidery rasp, conjuring the ticking horror of segmented legs. Whatever phobia you nurse — arachnids, snakes or the dark –—whatever the weakest points in your psyche are, Portal will sing a song for that particular broken place in your brain.


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