Portrait - Crossroads
25 April 2014

01. Liberation
02. At The Ghost Gate
03. We Were Not Alone
04. In Time
05. Black Easter
06. Ageless Rites
07. Our Roads Must Never Cross
08. Lily

I fully expect Portrait to explosively materialize out of your stereo, grab your flabby face-flaps with their leather-gloved hands, and scream, "WE LOVE MERCYFUL FATE" into your blood-belching eardrums until you give them your Don't Break The Oath vinyl and they finally go away. I mean that in the best way possible.

Within the first ten seconds of "At The Ghost Gate," it becomes obvious why Portrait are thusly entitled. Their riffs go unsettling places, the bass is punchy, and the ghostly atmosphere reeks of unholy sacrifices conducted in ancient, musty, torch-lit dungeons. Vocalist Per "PerilOZ" Lengstedt lets loose with ethereal screeches and banshee wails that scrape the ceiling of human perceptive capabilities, laying down haunting harmony after haunting harmony. He, like the rest of the band, wears his King Diamond worship proudly on his sleeve; his siren falsetto, grittier and fuller, could give the King a run for his money.

The production might be more polished and the year might be 2014, but Crossroads dusts off that old, classic Mercyful Fate sound and takes it for a spin. When evil things age, they either get scarier or campier, and most of our favorite horror movies, ghost stories, and first-wave black metal bands take the latter route. Portrait have figured out how to access the vault of horror nostalgia without aging first. The product is some well-written and fabulously-performed NWOBHM, with an extra dash of old-fashioned evil kitsch to give it a vintage black metal feel.

"Black Easter," for example, would be welcome on the soundtracks to Nightmare On Elm Streets 2, 5, or 6. You wouldn't hear "We Were Not Alone" thundering from down under if Satan actually rose from the abyss right about now (since we all know that Satan hates this devil music crap), but it is exactly what you would play while applying corpse paint before a Tales From The Crypt marathon with your buddies.

Crossroads is, in all likelihood, the closest we will get to a new Mercyful Fate album, and it sure does one hell of a job of sounding like one. If you enjoy King Diamond, or perhaps other modern practitioners of the gaudy ghoulishness that frightened your grandparents (like Ghost B.C.), you will love Portrait.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 5
Production: 9

Band profile: Portrait
Album: Crossroads


Written on 11.06.2014 by
Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.
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Marcel Hubregtse - 12.06.2014 at 00:20  
This one is a lot less MF than the previous ones
ScreamingSteelUS - 12.06.2014 at 00:37  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 12.06.2014 at 00:20

This one is a lot less MF than the previous ones

The last one, at least, often sounded like it was directly lifted from Mercyful Fate, whereas this one sounds more like they are just trying very hard to be Mercyful Fate. I think Crossroads is stronger.
The Galactican - 13.06.2014 at 06:53  
For my own part I liked their previous effort a bit better, but this is definitely a great album!

As for the Mercyful Fateness of it all, I'll take a hundred more bands that want to sound like MF circa 1984. It is a sound and a style I love, and lord knows Mercyful Fate never came back to it even when they were still making records. I think there's still a fair amount of that sound to Crossroads.
toxx - 13.06.2014 at 14:04  
Love this album! Looking forward to seeing them live in September.

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