Edition: 60
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Album reviews:
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Note: We don't give a mark to: MCDs, DEMOs, Compilations and Live albums.
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01. Welcome to my funeral
02. Black hole of doom
03. Prisoner behind the cosmic walls
The Great Horned Metal God be praised! Out of the Swedish nowhere, five hungry metalheads have risen to take your soul with a truly old school 3-track demo: Welcome to my funeral is a ripping Mercyful-Fate-circa-1982-flashback with a likeness to the King’s band that is, dare I say it, eerie.
The guitar duo of Christian Lindell and David Slaughter crank out the riffs and melodic leads in true Shermann/Denner-style – even managing to slip in some of that very specific, only so slightly distorted, semi-acoustic picking that is so essentially ‘Fate. Richard Lagergren’s bass brings back fond memories of Timi Grabber’s MF-four-string work. The drumrolls and cymbal technique of Anders Persson instantly remind you of a certain Kim Ruzz. Hell yeah!
But wait a minute, there’s one vital component still missing – that inimitable, almost supernatural falsetto voice, capable of infusing the molten metal with that specific horror atmosphere that creeps into your bones like evening chill in late November. And isn’t there only one person in this world who can do this job? Well, think again folks, because the moment singer Philip Svennefelt opens his mouth in Welcome to my funeral’, Portrait really start rolling. This young man must have hidden out for years in King Diamond’s attic and taken notes: his vocals bear a near unholy resemblance to the King’s. ‘Astounding’ is the word here, but before there’s time to dry those iron tears of eighties nostalgia, the Maiden-like leads are shooting through the Black hole of doom and the old air guitar needs some serious dusting off. In this second track at the latest, you sense that refreshingly raw NWoBHM-feeling that permeates the music.
The third and last cut Prisoner behind the cosmic walls (if that isn’t a Lovecraftian theme, I don’t know what is) speeds things up on a fierce double bass drive. With that basic riff (consciously or not) inspired by the classic Trial by fire of NWoBHM-heroes Satan, with those sharp breaks and great lead guitars plus Svennefelt’s aggressive vocal delivery, this Portrait is painted with energy and panache. Yep, the Swedish Flying V-masters Wolf have gotten competition – or perhaps better: have gained brothers in arms.
Sure, production could be better if you look at it from a present-day digital point of view. But isn’t the main thing here that it sounds authentic? If you were around during the early eighties, you remember clearly that part of the charm of metal recordings back in the day was their unmistakably home-made sound. I, for one, prefer the sound of the Mercyful Fate-EP, the first Angel Witch-LP or the Gaskin-album ‘End of the world’ – to name but a few majestic examples - to that of most albums released today.
Anyway, once again a heretofore unknown band proves that metal equals craftsmanship, vision and honesty – and thus is an independent and timeless art. Why stoop to the level of artificial innovation, i.e. half-assed garage sounds, irritatingly modern effects, pointless lyrics and a so-called ‘sophisticated’ image, just to kiss up to a pseudo-progressive, disgracefully superficial mainstream music press? Respect for certain traditions of heavy metal is what it’s all about. Welcome to my funeral is a must-have for any metalhead who has had the great fortune to witness the scene during the early eighties. It also comes highly recommended for those who were born just a few moons too late, but recognize and feel the old school spirit nonetheless. By the way, if you were into hardrock and heavy metal back then, you were a ‘hardrocker’ or ‘headbanger’, as I recall from my own pioneering days. The word ‘metalhead’ only came into being during the first wave of thrash metal (remember Piledriver?).
Back to topic: plans for further Portrait-recordings are already on the table, with a possible 7’-single to be released first. A number of songs have been written, according to guitar player Christian Lindell, who’s also the band’s main lyricist and inspired by Weird Tales-era fantastic literature. The demo (either on CDR or ultra-true cassette with a cool cover!) can be obtained directly from the band at portrait_metal@hotmail.com, or – CDR only - through Helmut Müller’s Underground Power distribution in Germany (helle.mueller@freenet.de). Order this demo and witness the genesis of a real metalband.

  Rating: 85 /100

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Prototype - Catalyst
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