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Portal - Portal - 50%

mentalselfmutilation, May 16th, 2008

With the demise of the legendary Florida death metal act Cynic, 3 of its members went on to new pursuits with the project Portal. To many this demo will be disappointing. By 1994 with the release of Focus the band seemed to have begun to really fall away from their original death metal roots and focused more towards a jazzy/fusion oriented death metal sound. Once the band had disbanded, death metal seemed all together a distant memory for the band as further explored from the once famous Portal demo.

To the average metal head this is the farthest from, and a disappointing release where the band has pretty much completely abandoned metal for a more progressive rock sound. With a mix of poppy sounding vocals with a mix of more jazz fusion sound reminiscent of the focus album and the addition of a heavy amount of keyboards which definitely play a dominant part of the music. The light atmosphere of this recording brings a whole new outlook to the songwriting of the band, and really shows their progression away from their previous sound to a new sound which actually works well for a quality and atmospheric mix. Infact, the poppy vocals by Aruna is probably my only fault with this progressive jazz/fusion demo. I really think that the male vocals done by Paul of Cynic fame would've fit the recording more properly. She's not a bad vocalist, more rather lacks depth and emotion that this recording could really use.

This is definitely a nice easy listening demo if you can find a copy somewhere, however those with high expectations who are looking for a more metal recording i'd suggest avoiding it completely, this is probably the farthest thing from metal. However as a stand alone demo it is a quality recording worth checking out with an open mind. Nothing amazing, but not entirely disappointing either.

How Could They...? - 20%

FrostbittenCandy, November 21st, 2005

I wrote a review of this demo before and gave it a 90. I have no idea where that comes from because this demo actually sucks and sucks hard. It's almost difficult to hear over the ear-piercing "dick suck" sound that rattles the speakers to their very core.

The music can be summed up easily with this decription: Cynic, minus the heavyness. Add more ambient keyboards and make most of the vocals female and there you have it. There are some distorted guitars, but they never play aggressive-like. Nothing heavy at all. Just relaxing, cerebral, spaced-out, poppy elevator music. Could have been good stuff.

I would really like this CD it weren't for the vocals, which ruin it. They sound like they're trying too hard to sound pretty and peaceful instead of just sounding pretty and peaceful naturally. They probably wanted to contrast Cynic's heavy side and prove that death metal was behind them. They're made even worse by some of the weakest lyrics I've ever heard.

"...above all fill my heart with thine unconditional love, with thine unconditional joy."

Cheese. Pure cheddar. I know it's a quote from something that they put in there, but the rest of the lyrics are just as sad. I know some people get off on that whole "spiritual" thing, but at least find a way to say these things without being such a tool.

Maybe they could have written songs about evil invaders from space who try to force all humans to abandon their spirituality, a war ensues and either we win or earth is scorched, or both. Sounds pretty far-out, but I'd rather hear that than this "divine mother" stuff. Save that garbage for when you're brainwashing weak-minded, depressed teenagers into joining your little Kool-Aid cult. At least in Cynic most of the vocals were buried in effects or rasp so you didn't have to worry about feeling like a faggot for listening to music with such pathetic lyrics.

Since the overall feeling of this is so different from Cynic and the demo is mega-rare, I recommend getting the remastered version of Cynic's "Focus," which includes three of these songs as bonus tracks before you waste time tracking it down and listening the poorly mastered (so quiet) demo. The only way you're likely to obtain an original is by stealing it from Paul. If you don't like it, at least you still have "Focus," which should be madatory if you consider yourself a real metal head. Not the kind that just wants to drink beer and headbang, but the kind that actually cares about when and how the different styles have evolved.

In short, Portal isn't for everyone and especially not me. If you liked the jazzy parts of Cynic (especially me) and don't mind cheesie vocals and weak lyrics, this may be right up your alley.

Boring! - 15%

nahuel666, February 17th, 2005

Well, CYNIC disbanded on late 1994, and PORTAL (band with 3 CYNIC members) recorded this demo on 1995. What can we expect? Maybe the latest and unreleased CYNIC stuff or, at least, an interesting mutation of. Damn, what happened? PORTAL is a mixture of a slow, very soft and very melodic Pop music, with a touch of progressive Rock. Metal? hmmmm...
This release starts with "Endless Endeavors", a promise which never will be reality on the rest of the stuff. Some interesting passages, a dark male voice, and female lead vocals. Is not CYNIC, but is very influenced for. "Karma's Plight", "Circle" and "Costumed In Grace" got slow tempos, lot of chorused clean electric guitars, keyboards, female and male soft vocals... well arranged music, but too borig for the metalheads.
"Cosmos" is, in my opinion, the best song. Written in the CYNIC vein, with the same spirit, but not complex as the band was. Here Masvidal uses his old vocal effects, and the structures remembers me FOCUS all the time. On the other hand, the piano and the female vocals contributes to make a relaxed song. "Crawl Above" is a mix of ballad and pop music that sucks. "Mirror child" is not too different. "Road to you" is not too different. "Belong" is not too different, but a little more progressive. And finally, "Not the same", is the same.
PORTAL is not CYNIC, I know, but for the CYNIC fan as I am, this is not funny...