Portal, the Australian genre-blending metal band strikes from the darkness with their 2007 release, Outre’. Meaning unusual or startling, Portal is just that and comes bringing a new wave of murky sounding production and midnight like creeping that slithers through, track to track. Outre’ is a rare-breed of album that can sound so incredibly atmospheric, so confused, and ultimately incredibly clouded, but still succeed in creating these warped settings where Portal are the conjurers of the wickedness that they want to engulf the listener into.
Rather than a frontal assault, most of Portal’s Outre’ is a lumbering, prowling animal that waits after continual building to finally attack. Portal’s sound is not the only unusual thing about the band, they also choose to remain nameless and adopt personas, along with immaculate costumes for stage performances that are intended to disturb, but actually create a new level of depth to stage presence. With names that accompany the members like “The Curator” on vocals, “Horror Illogium” (likely stemming from “elogium” which stands for eulogy, or praise bestowed upon a person or item) on lead guitar, “Aphotic Mote” on rhythm guitar. “Monocular” on the drums, and “Elsewhere” on the bass. Together as the horrific, but still dynamic squadron, Portal makes Outre’ sound like the sickest horror movie soundtrack ever made. Stemming instant inspiration from silent film adaptions of horror, Portal makes the sound come to life, only to let that sound die off in the near forty-minute run time.
Starting with “Moil,” Portal makes the introduction of Outre’ become an intense build where it feels as though a presence is coming closer and closer before hearing the first bit of authentic instrumentation from Monocular, Aphotic Mote, and Horror Illogium on the seguing notion into “Abysmill.” The drums are the spotlight, if there is one at all in Portal, as they continually pound and create the backdrop where the rest of the instrumentalists and the atmospheric style of subtle assault can continually shake until reaching the foreground. Portal is not exactly drone metal, but there are sections of Outre’ where they illustrate the characteristics of long, seguing, entirely repetitive sections where only one or two instruments are playing at a time. This goes back to how their sound is representative of a silent film where the atmosphere and the listener’s emotions go into making the environments of Outre’ truly come alive.
Outre’ is a collective journey of murky production, pounding instruments, and deep growls of the lead vocalist, The Curator who stands tall as the front man, conducting the fears along with the army behind him. Outre’ all blends together into one seamlessly transitioning master working that can instill fear, but also immense curiosity when Portal continues to build before reaching the boiling point. The atmospheric fallout is however, truly apparent in the self-titled track, “Outre’.” Here, Portal uses breathing, soundscapes, and abrasive crashes to induce this synthetic like aftermath of a world where everything is crumbling and becoming destroyed. It then transitions into “13 Globes” which is more of a straight forward, crush of a track that uses sporadic playing and sectioning to create these maze-like approach. It works outstandingly and Outre’ as a whole can benefit from the consistent shifting. It leaves everything hanging in the balance of fate.
Portal are unpredictable and unrelenting, barely taking a single second to slow or even break their action apart. They constantly smash, crush, and pulverize their sound until there is nothing left. Outre’ is an experimental record that moves about like a snake, curving and contorting the listener into unknown horror that can only be described as Portal’s world of sound.