Abyssus Abyssum Invocat: Portal – Vexovoid
Written by Ankit
‘’The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.’’
Written almost an aeon ago, these words still echo deeply within our hearts and constantly remind us of the delirious literary lunatic that Lovecraft was. His literature, like most visionary writers, wasn’t as impactful during the era in which it flourished as it is now. Much like a shaman, he delved into the feverish domain of man’s incomprehensibility of the portentous powers that lay sunken beneath the earth, and their unwholesome impact upon the way he determined reality. Upon reading his classics a conscientious reader is bound to envisage a dystopian world where humanity is frail and insignificant in an infernal cosmic scheme.
In the modern era many artists within the realm of literature, cinema and music have tried to recreate the phantasm which Lovecraft forged so naturally in his time, without having access to modern technology to aid his creativity. Many succeeded, while many failed – sometimes even miserably – in their pursuit to pay an honest tribute to the genius author. There is no denying the fact that the darker aspects of music – namely heavy metal and post-industrial – have indubitably garnered ample inspiration from the writer’s work. Although a few of them even come an inch closer in evoking surreal horror, equivalent of Lovecraft’s mastery, when we speak of Australia’s enigmatic entity Portal.
It is quite an arduous task to categorize them as death metal or black metal, as they have never adhered to the textbook definition of either genre. To some, they are an enigmatic puzzle which is better left unsolved; while others think of them as a meaningless ensemble cranking undefined and incoherent noise. However, upon closer examination, an inquisitive mind cannot disparage their hideous and avant-garde approach towards extreme metal. They do not merely present their art as a metal band, but in fact, engage the listener into a black mass of audio-visual horror. This predominant quality separates them from their counterparts in the sub-genre.
Having released three full lengths in the past, they have triumphantly returned in 2013 with their fourth album entitled Vexovoid which is also their second release on Profound Lore Records. Rooted firmly and devotedly to their alluring mystique, this album marks a new dawn in Portal’s ever expanding sonic compendium. If Swarth served as an audio grimoire to invoke the Great Old Ones; Vexovoid serves, even more ominously, as a grander vessel to commemorate their arrival.
The full length, which clocks just around 34 minutes, is a tad shorter and surpassingly effective than its predecessor. It becomes apparent with the very first note itself that the band’s modus operandi is largely unaltered. In fact, they have procreated a monstrosity, which is mighty even for their loyal admirers to behold! The production quality exhibited on Vexovoid is arguably the finest that the band has ever had; and while it is certainly not polished or refined in any way, it provides added volume to their compositional prowess.
The opening track ‘’Kilter’’ forges a swirling vortex of unrestrained atonal frenzy, and paves way for ‘’The Back Wards’’, which begins mid-paced, only to accelerate almost unexpectedly during its second half. ‘’Curtain’’, a track which they performed on their live shows in 2012, initiates with low tuned tom hits and gradually develops a sinister build-up, thriving on mid-paced to blast-beat sections. ‘’Plasm’’ is initiated with wailing, dissonant guitars and continues in similar fashion, displaying a mix of slow and faster sections and ends boisterously with a wall-of-noise ambient outro.
‘’Awryeon’’ is perhaps the finest track on the album. Ghoulish chants – enunciated in a way which could perplex even the most profane sorcerer – are layered along-side The Curator’s eldritch howls. ‘’Orbmorphia’’, the shortest track on Vexovoid, reminds more of the direction taken by the band on Swarth, and quickly fades into the album’s grand finale, ‘’Oblotten’’. This is an instrumental track which is akin to the somber atmospheric subtleties present on ‘’Outre’’. What ensues hereafter is absolute silence – a deafening cacophony which beckons inevitable abominations belched from the Abyss.
The blackest pits of Taratrus have been reopened and summoned therein are the Cyclopean monoliths of the Elder Gods, whose presence largely unnoticed until now, can be felt more dreadfully than ever. No more does the greater spirits lie dreaming; it is their time to rule our paradigm once again, and cast their ghastly shadows to reclaim what once belonged to them. Portal have unfurled the (Vexo)Void and daemonic incantations vociferating from unknown dimensions can now be heard:
‘’IA! IA! ZI AZAG!
IA! IA!! ZI AZKAK!
IA! IA! KUTULU ZI KUR!
02) The Back Wards