In the modern age of traditional heavy metal music, fewer bands aspire to reach the top hierarchy status. Swedish heavy metal powerhouse Portrait represents the upper tier of such exquisite quality. Over half a decade, they crafted a grandiose sound by combining the facets of Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. Though there is always a continuous need to evolve the band, they seemingly entered a phase of an epochal musical score. Following the two successful albums “Crossroads” and “Burn the World”, Portrait present their fifth studio album “At One with None” out via Metal Blade Records on September 3rd, 2021. In spite of the monumental scale of the guitars and the towering vocals, the method of songwriting isn’t of the same paradigm that you’ve heard before. The quartet of Per Lengstedt (vocals), Christian Lindell (guitars), Fredrik Petersson (bass), and Anders Persson (drums), offers eight luxurious songs which stand on their own.
The opening track “At One with None” is a brilliant piece that invites you into the breathtaking epics of classic heavy metal. The warm and effective sensation of the blazing guitars and the pounding drums encroach new sonic landscapes. With layered solos that could have an electrifying effect, the percussion and the evocative vocals possess a growing power of might. These homogenous compositions are masterfully integrated to create a fully animated dynamism. Though the songs are complex and twisted, the ability to reinvent the wheel with different perceptions remains a notable aspect of the album. There is enough diversity among the songs to shift between sections. “Curtains (The Dump Supper)” is built on intricate rhythm and dense riffs. Vocalist Per Lengstedt combines his flamboyant style. Although his singing is a bit toned, it impeccably remains charming and emotionally charged. The guitars are multi-layered, showcasing the strong roots of heavy metal. Particularly the soloing parts, which are very akin to Michael Denner and Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate.
With a refined sound quality, the overall musical arrangements of the instruments show the aesthetic and an innovative scale. “At One with None” is a driven mid-tempo album measured by its uplifting solos and catchy vocals. On a technical level, Portrait’s latest album is skillfully crafted with twisted riffs and beautiful vocal textures, like their counterparts In Solitude. The atmosphere here is immensely profound unfurling between dark and awe-inspiring moments. The guitars on “Phantom Fathomer” convey grandiose metallic riffs, whereas the harmonies and the rhythm work are well-structured. The bewitching vocals joins in dramatically. While the drums burst into a full gallop, the bass guitar constantly changes.
Songs such as “He Who Stands” demonstrate inspiring rhetoric of songwriting. The spectacular concoction of blazing riffs and the guitar strings seemingly work well to create an eerie atmosphere. Offering a catchy mixture of the acoustic guitar segment that is backdropped by the booming riffs, the vocals ebbs and flows. Yet the most binding element are the ominous whispers, which adds a charming feel to this superb track. Being the longest track of the album, “Ashen” begins with an acoustic intro followed by a monstrous riff. It is not surprising that Portrait can conjure superb elements. Each track is filled with haunting vocals and lush lead guitars emphasizing rich sonic textures. The harmonizing leads are perfectly executed. Given its epic proportions, “At One with None” embodies new musical traits. One of the highlights of the album is how the melodies and storming riffs work dramatically.
The intricacy of the guitars on “A Murder of Crows” showcases traditional heavy metal. The classy performance overflows with vibrant energy. Striding with powerful metal riffs, the solos appear from nowhere. there is a spellbinding quality that surrounds the coherent musicianship. You can expect to hear pounding drums and Iron Maiden-esque style of harmonies on tracks like “Shadowless”. Portrait’s flamboyant style recreates that nostalgic sound of the eighties. Too often the songs merge ethereal rhythm and polyphonic melodies. The atmospheric guitars deliver one epic riff after another as endlessly as the songs stream into lofty heights.
While the haunting atmosphere of the vocals on the album closure, “The Gallow’s Crossing” unveils the superior craftsmanship of the performance. The unsettling vocal anthems and the chilling composition of the acoustic guitars leading to electrifying sonic eruption. The guitars unleash waves of melodic leads without being repetitive. This epic song harnesses extraordinarily musical abilities. The song features a deeper innovative and artistic side, which shows the sheer passion for such music.
“At One with None” is an epic heavy metal album, masterfully achieved by the clear refinement in the songwriting and vision and marks a new phase in the band’s career.
Release Date: September 3rd, 2021
Label: Metal Blade Records
- At One with None
- Curtains (The Dumb Supper)
- Phantom Fathomer
- He Who Stands
- A Murder of Crows
- The Gallow’s Crossing
- The Blood Is the Life (Bonus track)
- Farewell to the Flesh (Bonus track)