Portal - Avow
Profound Lore Records
Experimental Death Metal
6 songs (43:00)
Release year: 2021
Portal, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Goat

The most horrendous Australian export since Fosters have returned with a surprise dual album release, the expected Avow joined by Hagbulbia, which pushes Portal's sound wholly into the dark ambient realm. Avow itself is a step back from the clearer path shown on previous album Ion, if keeping its avant-technicality in the riff-focused approach. Ten-minute opener Catafalque alone shows this with its ominous build, all blasting drums and scurrying rhythms. Yet throughout the album there's an utterly relentless downpour of molten guitars, vocalist The Curator's dry-as-dust choking gasps atop only aiding the strangeness. And of course, the strangeness is one major reason to listen to Portal, that uncanny atmosphere inviting Lovecraftian adjectives in the past and deserving them, too. This is a step back into our earthly horrors, away from the sci-fi bleakness of Ion's void, something more akin to being locked into a room (or a confessional booth, as that artwork might be?) while a strange creature snarls at you in an incomprehensible tongue, your conscientiousness fading in and out as you try and determine whether you are awake or in a dream...

And Avow doesn't really change up that formula on this album! That is, apart from speeding up or slowing down the tempo, such as the initially faster Offune which soon draws back into a nasty crawl, punctuated by cymbal hits like reproachful slaps to the listener as the drums grow louder and the vocals and other instruments form (a still very threatening) muttering. Manor of Speaking begins with a slow, droning riff which it keeps returning to despite other shifts in speed, and Bode builds on this with a backing echoing drone that sucks you into a hypnotic trance. Drain, the album conclusion, has more of an industrial tone to it initially before launching into the most black metal thing that Portal have produced in a while, a seething mass of buzzing riffs that uncomfortably prolongs until it cuts out suddenly. Not a very satisfying ending, but then, listening to Portal is not a very comfortable experience, and Avow is a reminder of their uncomfortable power.

Killing Songs :
Catafalque, Manor of Speaking, Bode, Drain
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Portal that we have reviewed:
Portal - Hagbulbia reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Portal - ION reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Portal - Vexovoid reviewed by Koeppe and quoted 75 / 100
Portal - Swarth reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
Portal - Outre' reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
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