Saturday, September 2, 2017

review: Portrait

[review by MMB]
Burn the World
Metal Blade Records
release: 25 August 2017
Is it Christmas yet?
To the people that keep asking what you want for Christmas, I think you now have one thing for the list. This one should be on the list for Santa Claus to get for traditional heavy metalheads. No presents for Christmas? No, Portrait for Christmas.
Perhaps it might have seemed to some pessimistic observers that Portrait (Sweden) was a glorified tribute band fixated on Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, but after years of turning in tremendous albums one after another that stand on their own two feet, in 2017 they return with an album that should make you do a double take if you decided to dismiss them before. It is true that they have chosen an excellent approach to the music (Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Judas Priest, you know it), but they should get their props for having the capacity to carry out the plan and making it all come to life in such a strong manner. From the very first listen, they are going for huge impact. They have that mojo, and they know it, too. Over the years they lave learned to make it good.
I like how every song is made like a hit. I get the impression that they feel a great sense of pride in the history that they are writing. I want that. I want those bands that have self-respect and self-esteem. You don't want to mess up and make a mediocre or average album. There are eight full songs here, plus an introduction and an intermission. That's fair. Eight songs. I couldn't ask for more. If this is all they had, perfect. Keep it trim and don't give us the leftovers and crumbs and fat. They have turned in only the best, and they must have rejected the rest. Good. I like it.
They have the big riffs, and they start the songs memorably, and they have the goods all the way through. There are fast songs and headbanging tracks; there are direct songs and ones with a bit more of a twist, including some melancholic moments. They have worked on the guitar melodies to achieve that classic feel. Overall, the band sounds tight. The singing fits the songs. They have the high vocals when necessary and the high screams, too. Sometimes you'll want to scream along, sometimes you might think the singing is a bit creepy and eerie. The high vocal harmonies in some places have an echo of Mercyful Fate/King Diamond. Of course! Good stuff.
When it's pure heavy metal that you need, look to Portrait to do the job right. Great album!

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