Portal
ION


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jacquibim STAFF
January 20th, 2018 | 404 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Portal shed the murk yet continue to stupefy.

For the last half decade, Portal have been in something of an existential limbo. Much as they claim to be unflinching purveyors of evil and darkness, the Australian five-piece remain vulnerable to the same creative lulls that burden the common rabble; Vexovoid was a reminder of that. You could almost see it coming, too. The band's sound was slowly but surely being diluted and parcelled off as lesser acts tried to emulate their “atmosphere” but ignored the minutiae beneath. In what was maybe a lapse in judgement made worse by dwindling inspiration, Portal went down the same route and lost sight of what made them one of a kind. Ion, their latest opus, feels like an attempt at rekindling the spark that is all too often lost to experience and complacency – a spur of the moment dusting of the easel.

Murky production belies technicality no more. Though eyebrows may raise at Ion's somewhat clear, dry sound – with a lot of emphasis on the word, “somewhat” – the scope of Portal's insanity is at long last bare for all to gawk at. You'd expect that without all the opacity, Ion would be Portal's most approachable piece of work, but you'd be dead wrong. Nuances are no longer hidden for you to find at your discretion, instead seared into your mind as if this was medium chosen for the torture sequence in A Clockwork Orange.

It's punishing in a way that is entirely different to prior efforts, as Portal go above and beyond to resolve as few progressions as they can. Chromatic, tremolo-picked riffs are paired with dissonant chord shapes befitting of a contortionist, while time signatures and tempi are upended on a whim. These shape-shifting rhythms are locked together by percussion that is fittingly erratic, with blast beats giving way to tom fills of which some feel never-ending and others fleeting at best. Aesthetically, Ion finds more common ground with Seepia than anything in between, yet has a veiled refinement that was absent upon the band's first attempt. In its curtain raising furore, “ESP ION AGE” beckons at past hits like “Glumurphonel”, only this time with more steely-eyed conviction. It sidesteps each and every point at which it could fall into a pattern as its spiritual predecessor felt it had to – whether to the listener's chagrin, it simply doesn't care.

While there were glints of respite to be found throughout the writhing gloom of Outre, Swarth and Vexovoid, Ion breaks you, then snaps you out of your stupor only to break you over and over again. Any reprieve – such as the motif repeated ad nauseam during the tail end of “Phreqs” – feels as though it is only present to remind the listener of what they're missing. It's the product of lessons learned and applied in as sadistic a manner as possible. Aware of our capacity for acclimation, Portal counter each anomaly with another in such a way that they're almost maddening to try and make sense of.

Beyond the image they've gone so far to project, there is a strange kind of sincerity to Portal's music. They don't pretend as though any dread one may feel is just a side-effect of what they're doing; everything is honed with the intention of terrifying one to the core. They live and breath the “Lovecraftian” themes that are often snickered at, while revelling in the reductionist criticism they receive from folks who, in their minds, don't know any better. Ion is both a statement from the heart and a middle finger to all schools of thought, conveyed through a medium that's been twisted and defiled in a way only Portal could pull off.




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3.5
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ION: Inhuman Oppressive Noise...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2018


2692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Think this has leaked so gotta get this out early. Thank you Profound Lore for the promo.



Stream for "Phreqs" isn't working for some reason but enjoy this birb in the meantime https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtDNjrffsec

Astral Abortis
January 20th 2018


6576 Comments


Will jam soon. I presume the review reads just fine. Good work.

Digging: Hopesfall - Arbiter

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2018


2692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank you dearest snox for the pre-emptive mindpos

Piglet
January 20th 2018


7739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good shit ladd, very excited

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2018


8760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good to hear these guys are bouncing back this year. Trying to do things by the book this year (no leaked music) and I’m already struggling to hold off.



Have your reviews always had that conversational tone Jac? Or is it something you’ve been working into for the last year or so?



Solid work mate.

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2018


2692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think it's just something that's developed over time. Depends on what I'm writing about too.

BlackwaterPork
January 20th 2018


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great job jac, really excited for this one

Digging: Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2018


23794 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Listened to this last night, and it was great, but also a bit exhausting.

Digging: Burial Invocation - Abiogenesis

necropig
January 20th 2018


4259 Comments


Never checked these guys -.-

Digging: Slough Feg - Down Among the Deadmen

Relinquished
January 20th 2018


37852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you should start





glad that this wait was worth it

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
January 20th 2018


13963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is an excellent review man

Digging: Radiohead - The Bends

MewCore
January 20th 2018


27 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Don't like this one at all. Latest Altarage has more variation, sinister vibe, thicker production, better guitar tone and hooks. They cleaned the mix quite a lot but it's bland boring dissonant death or whatever with no head or tail that tries to much to live up to it's original concept.

BlackwaterPork
January 20th 2018


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

BOOooooooo

MoosechriS
January 20th 2018


6330 Comments


Need to get this, these guys have been on my list to check for a long time.

Thrust!
January 20th 2018


3665 Comments


nice review per usual Jack, I might check this out today

Digging: Vektor - Terminal Redux

Spacesh1p
January 20th 2018


7638 Comments


Nice review, can't wait to hear this.

SomeGuyDude
January 20th 2018


336 Comments


Just going off of Phreqs, the production is almost a little too dry. It feels like it's all treble. Not sure that helps Portal's sound, but I'll wait until the full release.

brainmelter
January 20th 2018


5595 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ayyyy great review jac, can't wait to jam while naked in a dark room

Digging: Imperial Triumphant - Vile Luxury

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2018


55874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hell yeah

AdolfChrist
January 20th 2018


16630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am stoked as shit.

Digging: The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse



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