Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
I kind of like it when a review is followed by a piece about a similar band, it makes reading seem more natural. It creates the illusion that it’s a continuous path, with reviews or articles being part of a dialogue with the reader, who follows that natural “thread” that was created last time he visited the website, instead of parallel monologues by the writer. The review of Portrait’s fourth album follows, in a way, the review on Attic’s last album. Key difference between the two? Their attitude and mentality. It’s the difference between barren inspiration compared to evolving. We first heard of Portrait in 2008, in a rather ungraceful way. Their vocals were limited, their range too “small”, thus even though their guitars were great and the compositions clever, the end result was disheartening. Changing their singer with Per Lengstedt gave them a chance to redemption and “Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae (2011), that stood on the stable musical values of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, was more than promising. Full of magic and mysticism, and even though their influences are pretty obvious, they managed to maintain the personal element of the band and with In Solitude, they proved that a band can get close to what makes Mercyful Fate and King Diamond great, without “losing” its soul, all you need to do is combine it with your own inspiration. 2004 brought us “Crossroads”, another small step forward, but, most important of all, it was a sign of moving away from Danish and borrowed (editor’s note: danish and borrowed sound the same in Greek, it is a small pun) ideas/style. With 2 new members joining their line up, while recording the album (Robin Holmberg on the guitars replacing David Olofsson and Fredrik Petersson replacing Mikael Castervall on the bass) the band managed to achieve the impossible. Introducing their band for a fourth time! And while the old saying is “you only get on chance to make a first impression”, Portrait seem to be the exception. Their technique is complete and there are focusing on showing a wider range of influences and completed idea, leading us to one of the most complete, composition wise, result and showing us a band completely focused on its goal. More influenced by Judas Priest, they don’t forget to turn their head towards N.W.O.B.H.M. and the wealth that genre offered to those who understood it. Featuring Set Set Teitan (Dissection/Watain) and Kevin Bower (Hell), with the later playing keyboards (even though he is a guitarist) adds more depth and an even wider range of good moments in this album. Lengstedt is at his best (especially during the narrative parts) showing his best self, while knowing that there are no more excuses left. They have potential and momentum, it is imperative for them get established as one of the elite bands of old school Heavy Metal. Thankfully they are not choosing the easy way of retro, their keyboards are used to create intense atmosphere. One of the best albums of the genre this year, with a band finally creating it own, personal, sound without forgetting its origins and roots.