Following the release of their acclaimed third album, ‘Crossroads’ back in April (read our review at https://planetmosh.com/portrait-crossroads-album-review/), Swedish metallians Portrait have been keeping busy, touring in support of said opus. Not content with that, however, they’ve also teamed up with fellow countrymen and Metal Blade labelmates RAM to record and release a split EP, ahead of a run of dates in the UK and Ireland at the end of January and beginning of February.
Thus, it seemed the perfect time for PM to grab a chat with guitarist Christian Lindell about what is happening in the Portrait camp, now and in the future. And the logical place to start was by asking why, just eight months since the release of their last album, they had decided to undertake the split project now?
We discussed it with RAM and Metal Blade and we all agreed that there was no reason to wait as both bands liked the idea and already had some new songs written anyway.
How did the collaboration come about? Who approached who?
I think it was my idea but it was a natural outcome of a few longer drinking sessions with the RAM guys. The initial idea was to only include one new song each and a cover of one of each other’s songs, but after a while thought it would be cool to also record some other covers.
You’ve described RAM as a band who have inspired you from the very beginning of your career, and also “one of very few contemporary bands that [you] feel connected to”: did this admiration for them make the prospect of taking on this project any more daunting?
No, not really. I mean, if you are to record a cover of another band it is always of a song you like and of course you want to do a version as good as possible in any case, so the fact that we have known them for a long time did not really add any pressure if that’s what you meant. But if someone had told me 10-12 years ago that this would happen it would indeed be another story…
On the EP, you each perform one of the other band’s songs: why did you choose ‘Blessed To Be Cursed’?
It was one of the first RAM songs I have ever heard and one of the early favorites as well. Besides that we wanted to choose a song that we could change a bit and not play it exactly as the original, and “Blessed to be Cursed” was thus the perfect choice.
Yeah, some of them were in the studio just after we had recorded it and as far as I understood they liked it…
And what do you think about their version of ‘Welcome To My Funeral’?
I like it a lot! Especially what they have done with the vocals, adding very fitting choirs and so on
You also each do a cover: can you tell us why you chose the Exciter classic, ‘Aggressor’?
It’s a song that has been a favourite within the band for a long time, as is pretty much every song from ‘The Dark Command’ and ‘Blood of Tyrants’. We wanted a song of total metal terror and it felt good to take one from the 90s as well in order to show our appreciation for bands that don’t give up.
Of course, you’ve also unveiled a new song, ‘Martial Lead’: can you give us a wee bit of background on this one?
It’s a song about the deadly crossing of Mars and Saturn, spreading insanity and death upon the enemy. Some of the riffs in there are old but most of the song was put together by me and our drummer Anders some time after we released ‘Crossroads’.
You strike me as a band who like to keep busy, and you certainly will be in January, when you head to the UK and Ireland for a series of headline shows: assuming that you’re looking forward to the visit, what can we expect from a Portrait show?
You can expect to be blown away by heavy metal darkness. We will do songs from all our albums and from the new split. We have a lot of songs rehearsed now and we will probably change the set from night to night, we’ll see… it will be great, in any case. We’re looking forward to it a lot!
Apart from getting to play to (hopefully) legions of your fans, what else are you looking forward to in relation to visiting these islands? Is there anything on your ‘to do’ list?
We’ll see how much time there will be but I think we will have days off in Scotland and in Birmingham. I would want to visit Stonehenge, and tons of other stuff too. Maybe K.K. Downing’s golf course, or at least the hotel bar there if there is one. The British Museum would be nice but I can’t imagine there will be time for that.
You’re being supported by a damn fine band from Belfast called Rabid Bitch Of The North: do you know much about them?
Not much really, but I look forward to meet them. Their manager contacted us when we began planning for this tour and suggested them as support act, we took a listen to them and liked it so it seemed like a good idea.
After the tour, what does the rest of 2015 hold for Portrait?
We have more shows in Greece, Finland, some festivals in Sweden and Germany, and we are also writing the next album right now and I guess it will be ready to be recorded by the end of 2015.
Portrait will bring their ‘Seven Ageless Rites’ tour to Ireland and the UK on the following dates:
Friday January 30 – Limerick, Dolan’s Warehouse (with Brigantia, Stereo Nasty, Twisted Wrath)**
Saturday January 31 – Dublin, Gypsy Rose Rock and Blues Bar (with Stereo Nasty)
Sunday February 1 – Belfast, Voodoo (with Terminus)
Tuesday February 3 – Glasgow, Ivory Blacks (with Toledo Steel)
Wednesday February 4 – Lancaster, The Yorkshire House
Friday February 6 – Birmingham, The Asylum
Saturday February 7 – Camden, Black Heart Camden
Support comes from Rabid Bitch Of The North (except **).