234: PORTAL

How the fuck is Portal a thing? How does this abrasive, confronting, utterly bizarre yet critically adored experimental metal band hail from… of all places… sunny old Queensland? To hear (and see) Portal, the outlandish appearance, the chaotic, frightening, explosive sounds – one would likely assume the band’s origin to be some little-known country, tucked away in a dark corner of Eastern Europe. But no. Fucking Brisvegas birthed this monstrosity.

It’s hard to even know how to explain Portal. If you’ve never fucked with any sort of extreme subgenre of metal, you’re gonna probably struggle. Hell, even if you have, Portal is an exhausting listen. And I certainly don’t mean that as an insult. With Portal, the listening experience requires active engagement. The multi-layered textures, erratic riffs, and utterly inhuman vocals, are far more intricately composed than apparently at a glance.

On the surface, Portal is some brutal death metal. But the song structures, as well as rhythms and instrumentation are deeply experimental. The music takes on some jazz-like qualities, and bears loose similarities to Imperial Triumphant.

In 2021, the day Portal released their latest album, ‘Avow’, the band surprised released ‘Hagbulbia’, a 38 min album essentially serving as a companion piece to the main release. But Hagbulbia is something unique. Where Portal are infamous for their merging of experiment death metal and noise, Hagbulbia does away with any semblance of metal music, and presents as a work of exclusively experimental noise, yet somehow still feels very Portal. It’s a bold move, especially the surprise paired release strategy, but it’s also exactly the kind of thing only Portal could get away with.

Portal are one of the crowning jewels in Australia’s metal scene, yet are such with out ever having at chance at mainstream success. This is because Portal’s unique, and bravely outlandish style will always be too much for the general public. But, for those in the know, here be one of the most innovative, critically acclaimed metal bands on the planet.