Portrait are a Swedish metal outfit who formed in 2006 (slight confusion here as some sites state 2004 however 2006 is sited on their official Metal Blade page) and are made up of Per Lengstedt on Vocals, Christian Lindell and David Olofsson on Guitars, Mikael Castervall on Bass and Anders Persson on the drums. Crossroads is their third full length album and was produced by Tore Stjerna at the Necromorbus Studio near Stockholm.
The album opens up with “Liberation” which is a misleading opener as your ears are gently massaged by acoustic steel string guitars and piano which then fades and “At The Ghost Gate” begins which is much more along the lines of what I was expecting, a single guitar intro then beefed up with all the other elements joining in and layered with a tasty riff which leads in turn to the vocal, Per’s vocal is slightly eerie but balanced and full, the track is quite complex with a nice time change towards the end, It’s certainly one that takes a hold of your attention and holds you in anticipation of the rest of the album.
Track three “We Were Not Alone” has a higher paced start to it, consistent vocals so far and the track gallops along with the bass and drums, so far the album has a very epic feel to it and this continues with track four “In Time” which opens up with beautifully executed squeal of guitars, lots of double pedal in this one. Having not ever seen Portrait before (or heard them before this album) I can imagine a very vibrant stage show with the styling of the tracks whether this actually transfers to their live performances I have no clue however I would like to find out (when ya touring guys?).
This eight track offering doesn’t seem to have any filler on it so far, in my honest opinion they have come up with a nicely polished but not over produced piece of work which you can comfortably imagine them delivering in a live environment.
If you like the skillful executions of Maiden style time changes with unique delivery then these guys are probably right up your alley. However describing their individual sound is extremely hard as I am struggling to come up with accurate comparisons. This in an old school heavy metal album which does not sound dated in any way, you could almost use the moniker of New New Wave of Metal.
Track seven “Our Roads Must Never Cross” (a sentiment I have about a few people) is thunderously paced example of who Portrait are a skillful bunch, again lots of double pedal, dual guitar and soaring vocals, sandwiched between verses is an excellent example of a very technical solo, a build at the end with a rather epic vocal pattern which feels like it’s reaching up from the gates of hell and lapping at the shores of heaven (if you believe in that sort of thing).
“Lily” closes out the album in a similar manner as “Liberation” began it, steel strung acoustic guitar and very relaxed vocal yet still retaining some of the eerie screams however this track is a bit of a tricky one, as when it begins you feel like you are going to be given an outro as per the beginning. However just as you expect in to fade out and the album come to its conclusion the drums kick in and deliver another metal blow, great track and a great album.