Album: Portal – Swarth
Release date: 10/20/2009 (I’m cheating again and including this in the recent review category. It’s only a few months shy of 2010 so what the hey.)
Label: Profound Lore
Well, it’s official. The day has arrived of which I don’t know how to review something.
Australia’s Portal is the strangest band I’ve heard in a very long time. Swarth is the strangest album I’ve heard in a very long time. It is also the most unlistenable album I’ve heard in a very long time.
This is going to be hard to explain. Okay, so imagine if Morbid Angel played 10-string guitars (I’m not joking; this band really uses 10-string guitars. You should see the necks on these babies). Imagine if Morbid Angel worshipped HP Lovecraft to unbelievable levels. Now imagine what your freezer sounds like when it’s making ice from water. I hope this is a close comparison.
It definitely sounds like something but I can’t tell what. Whatever it is, it elicits a very unsettling emotion from the listener. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to hear anything going on anywhere in Swarth. The production and mixing muffles everything into this constant drone. It works in conveying its presence to the poor sap who goes in and buys this album, thinking they’ll get a Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega-like recording. I mean this literally: this recording sounds like the drone of machinery.
I guess I’ll go with a 6 out of 10 rating for this one. Here’s the reason: I don’t know what to make of Swarth. I can’t give it a high rating yet I can’t give it a low rating. It’s not without merit, because it is truly unique and an experience to brave. A 5 wouldn’t be fair to the group, so a 6 it is.
Instead of a sample of Swarth I’m going to link you to a live performance of the band. The production values of this album do not do Portal justice. They really are a talented band with a truly unique presence.
Best track: Um…
6 out of 10 stars
CLICK TO HEAR SAMPLE: