Rating:
6.0
Xasthur - Portal Of Sorrow
26 March 2010


01. Portal Of Sorrow
02. Broken Glass Christening
03. Shrine Of Failure
04. Stream Of Subconsciousness
05. Karma/Death
06. Horizon Of Plastic Caskets
07. Mesmerized By Misery
08. This Abyss Holds The Mirror
09. Mourning Tomorrow
10. Miscarriage Of The Soul
11. Obeyer's Of Their Own Deaths
12. Released From This Earth
13. The Darkest Light
14. Hiver De Glace


If there is one thing that I really like about the US, it's their black metal underground which has been simply blooming in the past few years. Xasthur is the project that introduced me to it, and pretty much remained my favorite act. Yet, ever since Malefic made it known that Xasthur will disband, there has been a tiny hole in my heart, one that I had thought would disappear once I heard his final opus, an album I assumed would shake me to the core. I was wrong. Portal of Sorrow makes for a clumsy, uninspired retreat from the scene by a once great band, with a few gems buried in the mud.

Xasthur's entire work can be described as 15 years of Malefic waging war on himself. It's depressive suicidal black metal bent on making you understand how small, irrelevant and pointless your existence is, how completely worthless everything you've ever done or been through is. All Reflections Drained made a shift in style, merging black metal with drone and ambient, whereas Portal of Sorrow continues and expands upon this sound and hardly makes it work.

To start with the musicianship itself, it's sorely lacking. Xasthur has never been a technical band, and part of its charm is precisely the sloppy performance making the sound ever more unnerving and vile, but this is too much. The drums sound particularly amateurish, even off-tempo some of the time; the guitars also contain a number of mistakes and missed notes. Haters of black metal say that the reason these bands use such extremely low-fi production is to hide their lack of skill, and Portal of Sorrow proves them partially right.

As for the emotional impact, which is where Xasthur used to shine, there is much left to be desired. A few tracks could easily be called some of the finest Malefic has ever written, but the majority of the album is simply boring droning. Eerie organs, muffled female choirs and Malefic's distant, tortured screams help build the atmosphere to the point of walking through a realistic nightmare in some tracks, whereas just sounding unfitting and cheesy in some others. For the most part, the album feels too long, lacking dynamics and proper build-ups to climaxes, instead simply droning on and going nowhere. If someone ever told me that Xasthur would sound like a bad soundtrack to a cheap, old horror movie called "Creepy Ghost in a Creepy Haunted Mansion", I would have laughed at his stupid ass. Turns out I'm the stupid one after all.

It's a bleeding shame what Malefic did here. This style has lots of potential, the prime example being "Stream of Subconsciousness", a track that sounds like someone turned a hazy nightmare into a song, or "Karma/Death", a shining gem in Xasthur's discography, a perfect swan-song to tell us all "good-bye". The problem with this album is that it sounds like Malefic had an awesome idea for a few tracks, which would have made a mind-blowing EP, but then decided to make an entire album in a similar vein, with very little inspiration.

Performance: 5
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Band profile: Xasthur
Album: Portal Of Sorrow


 


written by Slayer666 | 29.09.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Milena - 30.09.2011 at 01:39  
Don't say that, now the poor dude is gonna kill himself
rekkuza- - 30.09.2011 at 01:44  
Get drunk or high listening to this. You won't hear anything else but its oozing awesomeness.
Slayer666 - 30.09.2011 at 10:44  
Written by rekkuza- on 30.09.2011 at 01:44

Get drunk or high listening to this. You won't hear anything else but its oozing awesomeness.


Everything sounds at least decent when I'm under the influence, which is why I listen to music 100% sober if I'm going to review it.
Marcel Hubregtse - 30.09.2011 at 11:41  
His worst album by far, unfortunately.
weird thing is that it was re-released this year. Wtf? After one year already?
rekkuza- - 30.09.2011 at 14:04  
Written by Slayer666 on 30.09.2011 at 10:44

Written by rekkuza- on 30.09.2011 at 01:44

Get drunk or high listening to this. You won't hear anything else but its oozing awesomeness.


Everything sounds at least decent when I'm under the influence, which is why I listen to music 100% sober if I'm going to review it.

Of course. In order to be intoxicated to the point where this album becomes good, you wouldn't even be able to spell Xasthur, let alone review it.
Mr. Doctor - 30.09.2011 at 15:35  
Heh, funny... When I was reading the review (and after listening to the album a couple of times before) I thought "yeah, I guess this should have been an EP instead... You pretty much took the words from my mouth there

Good review man, It's sad that everything ended up like this. There's always the possibility to just delete all the tracks that don't work for you and enjoy the good stuff instead
Marcel Hubregtse - 30.09.2011 at 15:40  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 30.09.2011 at 15:35

There's always the possibility to just delete all the tracks that don't work for you and enjoy the good stuff instead


How the hell do I delete them from the cd?
Mr. Doctor - 30.09.2011 at 15:42  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 30.09.2011 at 15:40

Written by Mr. Doctor on 30.09.2011 at 15:35

There's always the possibility to just delete all the tracks that don't work for you and enjoy the good stuff instead


How the hell do I delete them from the cd?


Well, sucks to be you man XD. Nah, I just meant the tracks from my computer. But I don't do that. I'm too lazy and also quite OCD-nuts since I always want the entire cd in my computer no matter that all the tracks but one are shitty

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