Review Summary: An extremely solid demo release from this short lived project.
In 1993 Cynic
released their debut LP Focus
which became a landmark of innovation and technicality. Following a long tour the band started working on their second LP. It was during this time that the band went their separate ways. Soon after, ex Cynic
members Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert and Jason Gobel created a new project named Portal
. They then brought in Chris Kringel and Aruna Abrams. A year later and the band recorded this 10 track demo.
s sound is vastly different than Cynic
, yet familiar in some ways. Gone are the robot vocals and death growls which have been replaced with mellow female vocals courtesy of Aruna and clean vocals from Paul. The music itself is in the vein of the lighter Cynic
songs such as Textures
but strongly progressing on that sound and making it their own which works extremely well.
Vocally the album is split up between Paul and Aruna. Aruna has very melodious and soothing vocals while Paul uses a more monotonous approach. Most of the time Aruna takes lead vocals and Paul does the backing and this works well in songs such as Circle
. Paul also has his solo moments too, usually consisting of small sections of songs. Aruna's vocals are what makes the album such an easy listen and are very enticing to listen to and Paul only adds to the experience. The lyrics are much more straightforward and understandable than Focus
's, but they still maintain the spiritual nature.
Drummer Sean Reinert is known for his highly technical and influential drumming on albums such as Death's Human
and Cynic's Focus.
On this album however his playing is much more accessible and composed, but that's not to say he isn't as imaginative as he was on those albums. The song Endless Endeavors
is a good example of his creativity and technical prowess.
One of the demo's finest is the fret-less bass player Chris Kringel. Chris is a brilliant bass player who shows not only his ability but also his creativity. The song Cosmos
showcases his playing well. Chris rarely sticks to a single note, he is consistently walking the fretboard and it really adds to the overall sound of the album. The bass is very prominent on this demo, as the guitar is generally playing soft straightforward chords during verses and chorus's, but that's not to say Paul's playing doesn't shine on here.
Guitarists Paul Masvidal and Jason Gobel take a step back on this demo in terms of technicality. There are still the jazz fusion-esque chords and and chord changes but there are no more super-high tempo leads over verses and chorus's. The solos however are still immensely intricate and help mix the sound of the album up. The solo in Cosmos
, played by Paul is a great example of this.
into a category of sound is hard but the best way it can be described is progressive jazz-fusion, but it can also be interpreted differently as it has hints of atmosphere and metal at times, it's very unique. Portal
was a truly wonderful project which sadly ended without a full release, but this demo is not to far off from what we would have gotten. The production is top notch and there are 10 full tracks. This demo should appeal to fans of Cynic
and even Aeon Spoke
. Fans of either band and fans of the progressive genre in general should definitely take a look at this small project as it is an overlooked creative gem.