The fifth album from Portrait is one of the best metal records to emerge from these plague years: At One With None.
Fifteen years in, Sweden’s Portrait is still forging unbreakable metal. There most recent album, Burn The World (2017), was a show-stopper, giving Portrait added recognition and setting the standard for their music even higher. The band is Per Lengstedt (vocals), Christian Lindell (guitar), Fredrik Petersson (bass), and Anders Persson (drums).
If you just say “heavy metal” and you don’t put any anchoring labels on the idea, a certain sound comes to mind. Got it in your head? Start there, add a theatrical flourish and a King Diamond homaging. Lay in contemporary recording technology. That is where I see Portrait. Their music is solid old school metal with an elegantly updated sound enriched by thoughtful composition.
Eight stout tracks populate the album. Each song feels like the start of a new campaign, a commitment to a cause. The rhythm holds the line for Lengstedt’s vocals which are strong and enveloping. The riffs sink in instantly and the lead guitar work is colorful and precise.
My favorite track is “Ashen,” because it has it all. I have an affection for the long form anyway, so the nine minute running time is a plus, ceteris paribus. It can’t only have endurance; there must also be substance. And here it is. The song has an intense, steady build, and the lead work is lyrical and engaging, hitting all the right marks. Among the straight-up metal bands, Portrait is a leader and their new album is one of the best they have produced. Recommended.
At One With None is out on Friday, September 3rd from Metal Blade Records.
Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/portrait/