Portal – ION
Released: January 26th, 2018
Portal Line up —
Horror Illogium // Lead Guitar
The Curator // Vocals
Aphotic Mote // Rhythm Guitar
Ignis Fatuus // Drums
Omenous Fugue // Bass Guitar
Portal Online —
If you’re a fan of extreme music of any bent, there is no doubt that you’ve heard of Portal; Australia’s very own conduits of demonic energy and creeping, strangling fear. It’s been five years since their last offering, Vexovoid, was pulled from the depths of the abyss and it seems that the group have undergone some ghastly transformations in that time. Whilst ION is very clearly Portal, it is of a more mutated, malignant nature.
Instead of being assaulted and smothered with the wall of noise, squalling and calculation that is their regular modus operandi, the listener is greeted with the ghastly, flowing dregs of the newly opened Portal. Whispers of wind, forgotten secrets and the ghosts of old drift around, caressing. That is until ‘ESP ION AGE’ begins — the wind shifts into a turbulent, primal form, tearing skin. The occasional respite is present, but it only brings the ethereal, frightening nightmare of The Curator’s voice to the fore. ‘Husk’ continues the bone-chilling torrent of noise and vomitus. The first two tracks showcase a startling contrast of teeth grinding speed and technicality coupled with jarring pauses, disorienting the listener. Portal’s vocals have always been the fuel of nightmares and this is no different; every slight instrumental lull pushes The Curator’s voice straight to the front of the noise, where it lodges in your skull, slowly eroding the grey matter until only a dark unnamed sludge is left.
However, the most notable difference that one notices with this release is the production. In place of the muddied, claustrophobia inducing buzz that characterised the earlier albums, there is a razor like sharpness. Every single noise that Horror Illogium creates with his guitar is distinguishable and clear. There are two very distinct guitar tracks in ‘Phreqs’ yet one can clearly pick them apart and admire them separately. The same can be said for all tracks on the album, but ‘Crone’ also does this very well. A sinister keening and droning that is slowly overtaken by a tortured scratching, as if someone is trying to escape from a lightless cave but only succeeding in tearing off their fingernails. The riff reeks of decay and eventual desperation. For any Portal fan, the production will probably be the biggest difference that one will have to reconcile with, but for newcomers, I cannot say if the clarity makes the absolutely terrifying aspects of their music, such as the last half of ‘Revault of Volts’ where the guitar sounds like an electric chair in an inferno, more accessible, or more surreal.
Sometimes, the shortest songs are the most heart attack inducing. ‘Spores’ only take up two minutes of Earth time but it feels like one is trapped in a perpetual whirlpool of human offal and crude oil. The song is thick and relentless; the drumming of Ignis Fatuus never falters once it starts. It is small moments like this, where Portal show their extreme diversity and cunning, it is a momentous mood shifter from the preceding tracks, jerking the listener out of themselves and subjecting them to what I believe is what slithers through Portal’s collective minds when they sleep. Oddly enough, next song ‘Phathom’ diverts all expectations and includes what appears to be the closest thing the band has ever done to what people consider to be music, but this is short lived as it transitions into the longest song on the album, ‘Olde Guarde’. Clocking in at almost ten minutes, it is nothing short of a pilgrimage. Escaping the frenzied mania of the first half will only deposit the listener in a fetid swamp of distorted strings and animalistic lamentations that are more disconcerting and mentally terrorising than calming.
ION sees a departure from the traditionally obscure past of Portal, but this is only because something different is occurring. If previous albums were about the birth of a malignant god and the mutation of the mind, body and soul, this album is of another era entirely. ION is calculated to bring about nightmares and the disconnection of the mind. A roiling mass of noise and atmosphere, ION is as unique as it is horrific.
Portal – ION tracklisting
2. ESP ION AGE
6. Revault Of Volts
9. Olde Guarde
ION is out Jan 26th via Profound Lore Records. Pre-Order here
Review by — Dylonov Tomasivich
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