25 February 2012
by Daniel Cairns
Allow me to get personal for a minute. As well as writing about dumbbell heavy metal, I write about computer games occasionally. Naturally this means I am followed by computer game people as well as heavy metal people on twitter (as you can imagine there’s a lot of crossover between the two). Whenever I talk about Portal (the band), computer games people think I am talking about the computer game of the same name, so being the colossal prick I am, I like to write innocuous tweets saying “New song from Portal”. Games types will click on the link, expecting a load of bleepy bloopy, quirky electronic buggery bollocks, but instead get an onslaught of atonal, stupidly violent death metal, with a singer that used to wear a cuckoo clock on his head. The amount of “aaaargh what the hell is this?” replies have made this childish and incredibly pointless endeavour entirely worth it.
It’s one of the reasons I love Australia’s Portal. Another reason is because they are so stupidly violent and atonal, to the extent that neckbeard types in Metallica shirts that hang around in guitar shops practicing “licks” (ew) and ejaculate at the thought of a double album by Dream Theater loathe them. “It’s just noise,” they cry. “There’s no musicianship,” they wail. “Will I ever find love?” They think silently.
Well fuck those types, because Portal make death metal the way it should be made. Vexovoid is inevitably brilliant. It might even be their best yet. There’s a minimum of studio trickery, it’s utterly impenetrable (although oddly some of Vexovoid is pretty catchy) and it gradually reveals its gruesome horrible self after repeated listens.
Allow me to beg your indulgence as I put my wank-hat on. The likes of Cannibal Corpse and Devourment could be compared to Grand Guignol-style theatrics of torture porn cinema (blood, death, guts, gratuitous titty shots etc). It’s all good, but eventually you tire of that horseshit (apart from Devourment’s ‘Fuck Her Head Off’, because it’s brilliant, and oddly romantic in the right light). It’s overdone though. Portal are a completely different kettle of rotting fish. Portal add a bit of mystique to what they do, their avant-garde brutality more akin to the works of say, E Elias Merhige, David Lynch and Ben Dover. The fact they conceal their identities makes it all even better. It could be anyone under their masks. I like to think it’s Natalie Imbruglia, Steve Irwin (resurrected by magical runes), Jason Donovan, and Bouncer from Neighbours.
Whoever they are, I’d like to thank them for making music that sounds like (here comes the tortured, tiresome metaphor bit) a Panzer tank piloted by a Shoggoth revving up and firing mystical hexes and nukes at all-comers, smashing all matter in the universe into oblivion. And that.
Sounds Like: The end of the universe, if the Mayans weren’t such fucking liars
Standout Tracks: Kilter, Awyreon, Oblotten