Vexavoid: Portal’s brutal CD vexes fans

Patrick Duggan, News Director

Australian metal outfit Portal’s latest otherworldly bone-crusher, Vexovoid, is the perfect record for any metal-junkie looking to have their ear drums plunged. Despite its flaws, Vexovoid is without a doubt the tastiest piece of bloody, blast-beat meat released so far this year, sure to please anybody willing to sink their teeth into it.
Portal avoids the comical image that plagues so many metals bands by utilizing an artsy interpretation of blackened death metal, fusing the thickest, muddiest, and most alligator-infested swamps of death metal with the deepest, darkest, and most despairing pits of black metal. The result is a noisy, relentlessly brutal onslaught of drop-tuned distortion, pummeling blast-beats, impenetrable bass, and vocals that sound like a mix between an uncharacteristically deep-voiced banshee, a peculiarly aggressive warthog, and a generator. No description could be more complimentary to a truly crushing metal band, and Portal is, above all else, crushing.
Throughout Vexovoid, Portal takes strategically brainy steps to avoid falling into the ditch so many of their peers fail to leap. The ironically off-kilter polyrhythms on the opening track, “Kilter,” keep things interesting while complimenting the guitar lines flawlessly. “Curtain” is a stand-out track, delivering straight-forward, aggressive blackened death as tastefully as it comes. As the album progresses, ambient textures start to show up towards the ends of the heaviest tracks on the record. After raging through three minutes of devastatingly earth-shattering pulverization, “Plasm” drifts into a two and a half minute break of eerie, atmospheric feed-back reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “Awryeon” follows a similar path, finishing with a fluctuating, hair-raising melody.
Vexovoid’s true vice is its lack of effectively potent diversity. After 30 minutes of sonic punishment, the fancy time signatures and tremolo-picked guitars start to meld into giant chunk of nastiness. Perhaps if Portal put a little more effort into song-writing, instead of focusing all of their energy on texture and attitude, this pitfall could be avoided. Alas, one can only ask for so much
Regardless, Vexovoid is exactly what it should be – a lusciously brutal slab of metal mayhem heavy enough to satisfy even the most skeptical of long-haired, denim-wielding, metal-heads, and smart enough to please even the most pretentious metal intellectuals.