Deathcore or metalcore laced with electronics and synths is a genre that is often maligned here on Sput- Nah just kidding. This is actually good.
Arsonists Get All The Girls isn't exactly a unique band, and their previous releases have been somewhat lackluster and boring, at least for myself, but this album is a showcase for "electronicore" done right. Portals is their third full length and sees the band finally hitting their stride and making a damn good record in the process. The band now does more than play mediocre deathcore with some random synth breakdowns and dance breaks thrown into the mix, and if this is where the genre is heading, I say thank god. I don't think Sputnik could handle another Attack Attack!- Someday Came Suddenly.
The actual effort put into the album is apparent upon first listen, after the prerequisite instrumental introduction, the album wastes no time in kicking off with "The 42nd Ego," opening with some trippy synth lines that work their way into the actual song, which is a powerhouse of rolling guitar riffs and tasteful breakdowns that is all backed by said synthesizers. Another immediately apparent aspect of the music is that the vocals are very much improved, and are no longer the monotone shrieking heard on earlier releases. The new vocalist on this is a lot more diverse, and he switches between the standard high-pitched screaming and effectively treads territory in the guttural death growl area, as well as some above average highs.
Cuts such as "My Cup's Half Empty" shows that it is in fact possible to back a song with trance and not have it be completely terrible, even if it is laden with breakdowns, and while breaking no new ground, songs like these are more of refinements on an essentially broken formula, and that's a good thing. "Saturnine" is thealbum at its heaviest, and sees the vocalist dabbling in those low growls and high shrieks that were absent from earlier releases, along with some hard-hitting chugging (that is kept to a minimum, mind you.)
It is with tracks like "Violence In Fluid" and the title track that AGATG realizes the potential that this genre has. The former has a terribly infectious and upbeat synth line that goes throughout the track, which is a stark contrast to the powerful and heavy guitar lines that make up the bulk of the song. And those aforementioned dance breaks that everyone hates" There's one here too, except the electronics used are more than the generic pulsating dance beats commonly used. The coolest aspect of this break is the fact that it leads its way into a decent guitar solo, which is odd for this type of music, but it works. The solo then moves into a breakdown with gang vocals, and all of this is still being backed by the synth lines.
The title track relies the heaviest on synthesizers to make the song unique, and for its entire 7:25 minute duration, it succeeds. It's certainly more atmospheric than any other song on the album, and the guitarists have some fun here with transitions to different parts of the songs, and for once, the electronics provide an entertaining layer here. Along with "Violence In Fluid," its the definite highlight track.
The album even throws some jazz into the mix on "I Lost My Loss Of Ruin," which for the first half is an above average deathcore tune with a cool guitar intro, but then it ends with a catchy jazz-tinged piano outro. Closer "Tea Time Tibbons" is the common 12 plus minute track that only lasts for a few minutes, followed by silence, then "bonus stuff," which in this case is some banter between band members and then an amusing acoustic number that is played on a sitar, if i'm not mistaken. Hell, they even have a full-fledged breakdown after the sitar part. Quirky, to say the least.
You aren't going to have high hopes going into this album, which is expected (and quite acceptable) given the band's and genre as a whole's track record, but give this album a spin, and I expect you'll find that electronicore may still have some validity yet. Plus, that album art is bitchin'...