Portal - Swarth
Profound Lore Records
8 songs (40:42)
Release year: 2009
Portal, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Charles
Now, this is a band playing that rarest of things; truly unique music. The instrumental techniques Portal use put them somewhere between death and black metal, but this is actually avant-garde, and for some reason the band that springs to mind most of all when I listen to Swarth is Sunn 0))). Because, this is not about riffs, or “songs” at all; rather, it is about pure sonic effect.

For those that don’t know the band, for the most part it takes the form of near-constant, whirring noise. It is an icy torrent of discordant crashing that mostly zigzags ferociously and rapidly up and down scales, but sometimes just sits rumbling slowly like a mangle drying out a submarine. Opener and title track, for example, is an electric sanding machine of a thing, with apparently freeform distortion screeching relentlessly away, with an approach that has more in common with German free-jazz nutter Peter Brotzmann’s harrowing Machine Gun than any heavy metal act. What follows it, Larvae is perhaps the most horrifying song here- quite an achievement- haunted as its minimalist bludgeon is by spectral wailing sound effects.

The “slow” “songs” are great, and just the thing for moonlit dancing, if by “dancing” you mean “mass murder and Halloween obscenities”. Wership, if it reminds me of anything at all, reminds me of Gorguts’s epic masterpiece, Clouded. It’s perhaps the most structured composition here, beginning with a sluggish crunching riff cycle that appears to be the sound of granite being ground into dust in a human skull mortar, and with the metaphysical concept of anguish as a pestle. Then it picks up, and throughout the fuzzy noise you can pick out actual riffs, butter-churning this sour lump of a piece of music in its wormy barrel. Last track Marithyme could be described in a similar way, but special mention must go to the drumming on this one, with the semiquaver cymbal crashes strategically placed to give it an extra layer of cacophony.

The horror, the horror. If you know the band, however, you may not be surprised at what this sounds like. I guess there’s its weak point: it needs shock its value for full effect. Regardless, I cannot recommend this enough for the uninitiated looking for new realms of musical masochism.

Killing Songs :
Larvae, Marithyme
Charles quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Portal that we have reviewed:
Portal - Hagbulbia reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Portal - Avow reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Portal - ION reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Portal - Vexovoid reviewed by Koeppe and quoted 75 / 100
Portal - Outre' reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
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