01. Kingdom of Conspiracy
02. Bound to Order
03. Keep the Silence
04. God Complex
05. Echoes of Despair
07. The Great Sleep
08. A Spectacle of Lies
09. Serving Divinity
10. All That Awaits Us
If a “Big Four” of death metal were ever to be determined, there would be a very strong argument for the legendary Immolation to make the cut. A band with a history that spans over 25 years and nine studio albums, Immolation’s twisted, dissonant, and darkly groovy brand of death metal has had a bigger impact on death metal than they seem to be given credit for, and traces of their influence can be found in many of the prevalent death metal bands on the scene today, as well as in the avant-garde compositions of bands such as Ulcerate, Mitochondrion and Portal. Such an extensive career leaves ample room for some duds, especially since the band currently exists amidst a scene in which many younger acts are leading the charge for the future of the beloved genre, but Immolation, like a fine wine, seem to have only gotten better with age, and their latest offering, Kingdom of Conspiracy, should lay all the naysayers’ doubts to rest.
02. The Back Wards
[Profound Lore Records]
To call the music of Portal an ‘acquired taste’ would be, to put it lightly, a fucking understatement. It’s a horrific, twisted abomination that derives far too much enjoyment from taking the known genre definitions of black and death metal and turning them inside out, exposing their darkest recesses and making the devil’s music sound truly sinister once again.
Vexovoid is much the same. The latest outing from the band finds them building on their career defining step taken with Swarth back in 2009, that shoved their music into the faces of the general metal populace — those that were fortunate/unfortunate enough to witness that monstrosity will find themselves at home in the cavernous walls of Vexovoid, but at times, something even stranger begins to occur; you’ll find yourself asking, ‘was that a riff?’
We didn’t cover them in our 2013 primer series of highly anticipated albums, but a few of us at HBIH HQ are looking forward to the new Portal record Vexovoid. The first new song from the record — titled ‘Curtain‘ — was recently unveiled, but now a second song ‘The Back Wards’ has emerged via the always metal-friendly NPR. As odd as it is for me to say, Portal are getting… songier. There are recognizable riffs and structure instead of the meandering droning tech death they’ve done in the past. This is good.
Despite our recent Australian music scene spotlights and contributor additions, we know good and well our largest group of readers are from the US and UK and not many of you can actually begin to even entertain the idea of seeing some of the events that this country has to offer in person. We’ve always wanted to be able to capture the experience of these shows in any way we can, and with our latest contributor, photographer William France, we can do just that!
William attended the Brisbane stop of black metal giants Marduk‘s headlining tour alongside the notoriously over-the-top (in the best way possible) death metal group Portal and regional upstarts in blackened death metal group Order of Orias. You can see his shots from the show below:
Our hour of new br00tz continues! Masters of weird droning tech death Portal are back with brand new music if you’re into the sort of punishing atmosphere for which Portal have been notorious. The Lovecraftian themes and aesthetic continue and are as prevalent as ever if the cover art for their upcoming record Vexovoid is any indication. A new track from the record titled ‘Curtain‘ has been made available, and can be heard below:
Vexovoid will be out February 19th on Profound Lore records.
Australian avant-death metal/mindfuck band Portal are known for being one of the most extreme bands out there. Their sound can be described as “the cacophony of death and the emptiness of life”. Don’t believe me? Well, you’ll see in a bit. What’s even more unsettling is their live presence. It’s a mixture of Silent Hill and Lovecraft brought to life, as if the music wasn’t disturbing enough. Check it out:
It was only suitable that we kick off things in the avant-garde metal week by starting with the genre’s progenitors and capital influences. However, that’s done with, and now we move on to examine a more modern form of this type of music. Or, to be more precise, one of its modern forms. Without a doubt, avant-garde has seeped into nearly every corner of the metalverse, and it is barely possible to talk of it as an established genre rather than a loosely defined aesthetic. Even if you consider our own playlists, does it really make sense to lump Queen and Gorguts into the same genre? Do they really have anything in common other than breaking boundaries and being ‘weird’?
But break boundaries they do, and so do the countless bands they have inspired. So then, when looking at contemporary avant-garde metal, what would be a good place to start? There might not be a clear one, so instead I’ll just talk about the style that strikes the closest to my heart: death metal. While not as suitable for abrasive experimentation as grindcore or black metal, there is certainly an unhealthy dose of avant-garde death metal that is up for grabs. Heck, there’s probably too much of it to go into detail about every band. That’s why I’ve chosen four albums in particular by the bands that stand out as the weirdest, most unique, and of course, most interesting, in the whole bunch. Hopefully at least one will blow your minds.
So far in our daily playlist, we’ve looked at the old and the new. Now that you’re boned up on where avant-garde metal came from and where it currently resides, let’s take a look at the more extreme side of avant-garde. Black metal, death metal, and grindcore flourish when coupled with a disregard for convention. How can an already oppressive genre like metal get even more alienating? Let’s find out:
“Right now we’re deep in the album. It’ll probably come out towards the end of the year. I think that’s the goal, to deliver it by the summer. So that’s it right now; just make a killer album. I feel really great about it already, I think that we’re in good shape. ”
“It’s almost like, I don’t know how to explain it, but if I had to put it in a box it’s more sci-fi, futuristic and alien but at the same time very song driven. It’s kind of like, to me, coming into Cynic’s body more. It feels very modern and at the same time it just feels really cool. I’m big in the space. It’s definitely new. It’s not like anything we’ve done before. It’s a new colour, a new space. I think people will really take note of even the guitar stuff. I’m really shifting gears, I’m trying things in a different way and the way stuff is played. It’s a new space for Cynic for sure. It definitely sounds like us, except completely new.”
Sounds about just as I expected, but it’s good to have a confirmation that the band are eying a 2012 release to the follow up of Traced in Air. It should be a great record for sure!
For those of you who don’t know, way back in the early 90s when Cynic had just released Focus and before their breakup, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinhardt were also in a band called Portal (not to be confused with the abstract death metal band of the same name). For some reason, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinhardt felt the need to compartmentalize their musical output back then and did some demos with the band.
Nowadays, Cynic has become an amalgam of Cynic and Aeon Spoke, even reworking the Aeon Spoke song ‘Homosapien‘ for ‘Carbon-Based Anatomy’. Now it looks like they plan to incorporate Portal work into their Cynic discography when they release The Portal Tapes in March. Here’s what Paul had to say:
“I never thought this day would come. A couple demos we’d record after ‘Focus’, under the name ‘Portal’, would develop a life of their own, and somehow become part of CYNIC’s larger discography. As an artist, it’s an amazingly unpredictable journey, to see these quiet labors of love, find their way, in their own time.”
The Portal Tapes will be released March 27th on Season of Mist. After the jump, you can listen to some songs you might expect to hear on The Portal Tapes.