Portal
Vexovoid

It’s their shortest record to date.

They are treading less new ground.

It’s less chaotic.

It doesn’t quite strike the listener like Outre.

Now that all of the things you’ve already read about Vexovoid have been reiterated, we can concentrate on just how mammoth of a record it really is.  If you’re not already familiar with Portal, that is a shame.  Some of the most awe-inspiring, fearsome, and unique death metal ever has been wrought by these 5 faceless, pseudonymed monsters.

In a banner year for death metal, I just can’t seem to decide who grabs the top spot.  Gorguts, Grave Miasma, Lantern, Vassafor (I’m including this even though it came out 12/06/2012) [Yeah, yeah, I know it’s black / death you genre Nazis], and of course Portal have all just astounded me.  I’m not even 100% sure I could pick an absolute favorite if I had to, but you can bet Vexovoid would contend.

I’m struggling to come up with descriptors that haven’t been done to death when it comes to Portal.  Yes it’s angular, dissonant, murky, and not for the faint of heart.  It blasts and it broods.  Get it yet?  The most accurate thing I can say about it is that it is thoroughly Portal.  They are simply too little like anyone for comparison.  With brilliance being the norm, it was hard to expect anything else, but Vexovoid really triumphs where it has dialed back.  This is easily the most “accessible” Portal record to date, but likely because the band has hit their stride.  They’ve figured out how to augment their madness just right to achieve a sound only they could.

“Kilter” wastes no time with introduction, though you shouldn’t need it.  Gargantuan, downtuned riffs swirl and entangle within the mind.  Furious hisses and growls augment the already dense atmosphere, filling in each crevice of the sonic space.  If there was ever anything bad to say about Portal, it’s that you can use the depiction above to describe nearly any of their songs.

While “The Back Wards” certainly doesn’t deviate from their formula, it might be the most insane song on the record.  Absolutely incredible drum fills transition to furious grinding and back, illustrating that though everything Portal has done has been manic, there is still a schizophrenic side to them.  Albeit both personalities are completely insane.

“Oblotten” is the final track and is utterly horrific.  Tense and odd, it offers no release.  As things build to what you assume will be a head for their final onslaught, layer upon layer coalesce as the noise starts to fade, leaving only the dissonant, ringing bass.  No last attack, no catharsis.

Vexovoid has come and gone in 35 minutes, and I’m left salivating.  I hate that I will have to wait any amount of time to listen to the follow up.  The more I listen, the more I am enraptured, and I think that is the point.  Instead of a 20 minute creepy drone number drawing it to a close, instead of packing 4 more tracks onto the end, and while I’m sure either scenario would turn out great because of the musicians behind it, Portal go out at the exact right time.  There has rarely been an instance where I didn’t play the entire thing twice in a row.  Its brevity is its key to endless replay-ability.  Let yourself get sucked in to this torrent if you’ve not yet done so.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick E
December 13th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Bryan

    The more I listen to this album, the more I feel like it’s one of, if not the, best things released this year. The only death records that compete for me are the Gorguts and Grave Miasma albums.


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