Review: “Desolation” EP by Portals

Bloomington Illinois quartet Portals have been around for 5 years now with their debut “The Empty” appearing in 2015. The group, who feature vocalist Aris Hess, guitarist James McHenry, drummer Bill Kaszubowski and bassist Scott McGinnis have their guitarist to thank for Mixing and Mastering this sophomore effort “Desolation” and bassist for re-amping the guitars.

A 52 second burst of single verse ferocious Deathcore in the form of “With You Removed” opens up the EP with Hess’s demonic vocals and a phenomenal range on show. Not only does the track intro the EP but it also acts as a part #1 stylistically at least for the dark and downtempo Deathcore groove of “Scorched Earth”. Again, the vocals are moody and bludgeoningly ferocious but this time they offer a hint at Dr Acula with some of the lead riffs and vocal pitch changes in a monster of a tune. Stepping in with some pause break stuccato riffing “Burdened” has a a fine balance of tempo shifts with the downtuned chugs of thick gauged strings against a higher pitched lead element that acts like a highligher pen across the blackened canvas.

Opening up with some climbing DJent inspired guitar work, there are hints at Traitors esq material in “Fate”, such is the brutality of some of those savage unclean vocals. There isn’t really much more that can be said about Hess’s vocals, except to say that the lows make you feel like being crushed by the moon if it was sucked in by the Earth’s gravitational pull and higher pitched resonance can take your skin off at thirty feet. The mid range bark is brutal. Simple as that. Continuing the trend and amplifying a strength beyond strength approach in all weathers “Persistence” talks of fighting the corner and holding it down. The Tech-Metal inspired riffage offers up breakdown after crushing breakdown with a decent solo in the middle. Well, lead flourish in a higher pitch that cuts through the main riff like a hot knife through butter. Title track “Desolation” has nothing to do with Thy Art Is Murder and instead speaks of the loss of something you’ve worked hard for in a puff of smoke. There is an almost spoken word against blast beats and an almost Blackened Death Metal passage that is simply outstanding as Hess screams “I hope you watch me burn” in a closing of sheer class [8/10]

Track listing

  1. “With You Removed”
  2. “Scorched Earth”
  3. “Burdened”
  4. “Fate”
  5. “Persistence”
  6. “Desolation”

“Desolation” by Portals is out now and available over at bandcamp

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