Portal: Vexovoid


Portal have always been one of those bands that caused line walkers to jump off the chasm and never return.  This means, we’re not going to use the classic argument.  It’s not a matter of “love them or hate them”, it’s not at all.  Portal doesn’t give you an opportunity to sit any sort of fence, and they most certainly don’t pull most listeners in their direction who have no prior experience.  It’s not even a matter of “getting them” or not, it’s a matter of appreciating the finer things in the insane, or better to say just plain being insane to the point of daemon worship.  Vexovoid is in many ways classic Portal, with a few updates to sound, especially in the vocal area, which was welcome in comparison to previous releases like Swarth.  Be warned, if meditating on Victorian post-mortem photography in Latin isn’t for you, then you’ll have no idea what it means to listen to these guys.  Stay away, this is for Portal fans only.

Vexovoid is somewhat shorter than previous releases, and at least one reviewer on another site made a big deal out of it, but really what’s 4 or 6 minutes in the greater scheme of esoteric dread?  That’s the thing about Portal.  You have a band like Ghost, who some seem to think are “Satanic” maybe even “scary”.  If you’re a Portal fan, you’ve probably already convulsed in insane laughter.  If you think a guy who sounds like he’s 50 and dresses like a pope with a skeleton face is “scary”, then sure, but for those of us who have seen enough pentagrams and upside-down crosses to have gone from Satanic to Christian for the sake of pissing the former off, it’s not.  Portal is actually disturbing.  It’s the kind of band where, should you give an indication you know the name, anyone who’s never even heard of them will get this sense of “stay away from that guy/girl”.  You look at the presence, the lyrics presented through eerily atmospheric roars, and you wonder if you haven’t lost your entire existence along the way.  Not your soul, everything; your family, all your friends, all your damn property.  And for those of you who have already let the Portal open in your lives through the genius of Swarth and their earlier work, Vexovoid is the next illogical step into your psychotic break.

Portal had a certain rawness to their earlier albums, or for their artistic sake let’s say ‘pieces’, a confused, lo-fi terror that required digging with one’s brain into the void.  Vexovoid has a more clean approach, but with the same complexity.  Chords bleed, twist, turn, confuse, confound, and The Curator’s lyrical delivery this time is much more dense and frightening, though this time with more clarity.  Some reviewers seem to have stuck their kvlt noses in the air at this, but really, it’s preferable to work less to discover the terror in music like this, as opposed to spending hours making out a single note.  So, for this reviewer, the cleaner guitar lines and singing was an awesome addition.  Previous incarnations made it difficult to really feel the sense of melancholia coming from his throat, but here there’s something sickeningly painful about the vocals.  The roars sound like a tortured philosopher stuck in purgatory, to use a not-so indirect reference.  Lovecraftian?  Please, this is more like The Magus made a thing of music, more like the Thuggee and Hashashins combined into a many-headed beast of strangulation and murder-for-religion.  Swedenborg’s world would implode at the mere sound of this.  Lovecraft, come on, these guys are too obscure for that kind of crap reference.  If the brain being absorbed and torn into by various symbolic creatures on the cover doesn’t give you an idea, don’t bother.  You won’t love it, you won’t even possess the means to hate it, it is beyond you.  Portal proves again why they’re easily the most esoteric and creative band in the history of metal.  Don’t think by starting with Vexovoid you’re going to have a chance and going further back.  If you weren’t there before, you’ll never be.

Portal: Vexovoid
Profound Lore Records
Score: 4.5 / 5
Written by Stanley Stepanic
Portal: Official Facebook