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It's TIME to go IN THE SHADOWS! - 88%

Thorgrim666, March 29th, 2012

In Solitude and Portrait's career seem to follow a parallel path. Both are from Sweden and play the same style of Mercyful Fate-inspired heavy metal. They released their debut albums in the same year with underground heavy metal labels. Now in 2011 and during the same month, they released their sophomore albums with the legendary Metal Blade. Despite this coincidences, both bands have taken separate ways this time.

While In Solitude have gone for a '70s-inspired, doomy retro sound, Portrait have taken the path of pure occult heavy metal with a bit less of Mercyful Fate (still very present, though), yet with a really extreme and dark edge. In fact, this album is one of the most intense heavy metal recordings that I've heard in a long time. It's fast, it sounds superb (Necromorbus Studios this time), it's heavy, and it's really dark. Songs as "Beast of Fire", "Bloodbath", and "The Passion" barely leave you any time for rest with their unrelenting heavy metal attack. In fact, sometimes it sounds so heavy that it even reminds me of a remote music genre of black/death metal. I know that the relation is not very logical, but together with some dark melodies, the speed of some songs, and the sound achieved in Necromorbus, this make me think of bands like Dissection (for example, the beginning of "The Nightcomers" reminds me of some things in "The Somberlain"). Don't be frightened by this opinion because it's just that, a very personal appreciation, and these guys are a straightforward heavy metal band, but a really intense and dark one. I also want to praise Per Karlsson's job on vocals, which is a definitive improvement from, maybe, the only weak aspect on the band's debut. This must be one of the best heavy metal releases of 2011, so you better not lose the opportunity to check them out.

Originally written for Ample Destruction 'zine.