It's been thirteen years since Swedish death Metal quartet Portal released their debut album 'Forthcoming' and despite this huge passage of time nothing much has changed in either sound or line-up.
It's also not surprising that there has been such a huge gap given how busy drummer Matte Fiebig (Blodsrit, Ribspreader, Mordinal and Paganizer to name a few) and bassist Emil Koverath (Blodsrit, Carve, Paganizer) have been with all their other projects.
They are finally back with their follow up release 'For All That Is Damned To Vanish', continuing with their blend of heavy yet melodic death Metal that includes some clean vocals and acoustic elements. Lyrically they still are influenced by Scandinavian Viking Metal, continuing to find inspiration in mysticism, Norse/Viking Mythology and Anti-Christianity. Despite the strong links to Paganizer and Ribspreader, sound-wise there is no similarity, Portal have more of an Amon Amarth influence to their sound if anything.
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'For All That Is Damned To Vanish' clocks up a respectable thirty seven minutes over the nine tracks so it's not an overly long album but there is a lot to like about it, particularly the harsh vocals, a brutal growl and the drum work which is an absolute battery on your senses. There is a good flow from one track to the next which helps to make it a good listen.
Opening with 'In the Steps of Forgotten Gods', an intense, compact, chugging track with a melodic segment before a heavy directional change tying things together neatly and with a great solo towards the latter end, getting the album off to a good start.
On 'The Grand Gesture' the melodic element in the direction change is well utilised again, there is a great catchy repeat riff and vocally there is a good mix of harsh and cleans, as on many of the tracks.
The up-tempo 'On Far Trails' has a long but interesting intro that twists and turns making you wonder where the track will go next, maintaining this feel to the end.
'The Wild And The Furious' is a powerful opener, with a mix of intense guitars and roaring vocals, a guitar solo followed by acoustic segment marking a calm drop-away, another varied and interesting track. Opening with fury, 'In Chase For The Sun' and the cleans again harmonise well with the harsh vocals, with a midway drum onslaught and a welcome closing solo breaking it up a bit.
Great drum patterns are highly noticeable across the whole of the album but particularly on 'Kamp' ending on a acoustic and drum fade out. I expected the final track 'Curse Of The Fifth Crown' to continue in this light but the pace and intensity rises back up and you are greeted by an unusual instrumental with a clever discordant edge.
Interestingly the album has no title track as such, but the title does encompass all the tracks.
'For All That Is Damned To Vanish' was recorded at Necromorbus Studios (Watain, Scar Symmetry, Desultory amongst others) and produced by Sverker Widgren (Diabolical, Demonical, Setherial) and mastered by Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Hail of Bullets, Asphyx, Opeth).
Overall 'For All That Is Damned To Vanish' is a pretty good listen. Was it worth waiting thirteen years for? You can decide that!