It would be easy to open our review of Portal's incisive and intelligent album Blood Red Tape with a glib remark about how singer Kenton Thomas' voice peculiarly apes that of his fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette on one particular track. The review could then be packed full of lazy puns and confused references to irony…
But to do that would, of course, be extremely unjust; this really is a very good album. The music is a dense mix of crisp heavy guitars, pounding drums, atmospheric electronic sounds and vocals that articulate and soar in turn. Genuinely forward thinking, the progressive metal Portal purveys seamlessly mixes infectious hooks with sweeping electro-metal soundscapes.
The band have a specific talent for song dynamics, they gently allow room for a song to build, giving the music room to breathe. The low key verses of "The Simple Things" fade almost to nothing, creating a momentary calm before the towering chorus. "We Kuffar and Your Kettle", in perhaps a deliberate move, gently bubble away for some time before reaching its climax. "Enemy" changes gear brilliantly between verse and chorus, and The Light is a brilliantly moody closer, with contemplative and haunting melodies punctuating the rest of the album.
Soaring, Climatic and Positivity are the key words for the album though. Portal share some musical similarities with bands like Tool, however, the tone is wildly different. Like so many metal acts, they do focus on the problems faced by society. However, there is a sense that unlike many of their contemporaries Portal believe these problems are structural and not simply due to human nature. This lends their music an optimistic underlying tone, despite the challenging subject matter.
A highly recommended work… just don't mention Alanis.
1. Jebel Moon
3. Your Kettle
4. The Kingdom
5. Six Degrees
6. The Simple Things
8. We Kuffar
9. Bank in the Day
10. The Light