I’m a sucker for futuristic and abstract sounding and themed death metal, punishing downtuned guitars, churning cyclic riffs, growled low death vocals, face melting bass lines and dreamy progressive realms, and this album has it all.
Disassembled is a moderately old band which faced inactivity and lack of commitment by members and was mostly inactive since 2001. However main man and guitarist Samuel Trindade tried to keep it alive, and over 10 years continued working on his dream, a full-length album he aptly named Portals to Decimation. It took a while to complete the album, but boy did he deliver when he really got into finishing it.
The amazing cover art caught my eye and I had been following the project closely after hearing a new completed single released by the band. The guy had me stumped when I finally got to hear his full album. Its as if he took many different elements of death metal and amalgamated into one epic album. You can hear the raw brutality and anger of old school death metal, the polished cybernetic elements of modern metal, the crushing grooves of down tuned bulldozing guitars, sprinkles of melodies and symphonies of beautiful atmospheric melodic metal with just enough progressive complexity in one album. I cannot even decide which parts and tracks I like more, each track combines to make a journey I want to repeat forever.
The album opener ‘The Cosmogenic Rise’ certainly sets the heavy tone for the rest of the album and serves as the perfect opener before going into ‘Hand of Doom’ which sounds like a futuristic sci-fi movie channeled magically into death metal music. Blasting tracks like ‘Decode 144’ and ‘Ecce Calamitas’ towards the end smash your face with the heaviest smooth yet angry grooves while tracks in the middle ‘Vessel to Utopia’ and ‘Astral Karma’ take you into awe-inspiring unknown worlds. ‘Route to Eden’ and ‘Traveller of Deceit’, well set into position 3 and 8, were also the pre-release singles and are definitely highlights of the album and in my opinion go down as some of the best music tracks in progressive and melodic death metal, which I feel are so powerful they can convert non-listeners into the domain of death metal.
The guitars are absolutely my favourite thing about the album. I had long wondered when would a death metal band arrive influenced by or make me feel stunned like the work of Jeff Loomis with Nevermore. Samuel honors the legacy left behind by Jeff and his thrashing seven-string guitar work and masterfully creates his own fantastic style along with a wide range of other flavors and influences.
Samuel’s bandmate from their other band (Bleeding Display), Sérgio Afonso took up vocal duties for the album. He is an absolute monster, and definitely one of the best death metal vocalists I have ever seen. His voice and excellent technique remind me of the great Christian Älvestam. He matches the riffs and structure of the songs seamlessly, and has a commanding presence, throughout the album till the final instrumental track ‘Revelations’. The bass (fretted and fretless) was also handled by another friend Alexandre Ribeiro (also in Grog) who delivers a stellar performance with a solid resonant and heavy foundation to the album aside from tasteful fretless bass lines.
I believe execution is very important in death metal. Production, mixing and mastering to me are extremely important to this style of music. Samuel has also left no stone unturned in this department to create his magnum opus. Even his guests bring remarkable performances with some clean vocals and guitar solos to complete the whole package.
Portugal has delivered yet another first-class album to the metal community. The album is another ideal example of how death metal keeps evolving and what it has achieved since the time it started years ago. I consider the album as a fine mature aged special and unique wine, which needed to take its time to be honed to absolute perfection. There is no wankery, no flaws and nothing in excess, just unbeatable composition, heaviness, variety and delivery! I am glad Samuel Trindade decided to complete his album and such a work of art could exist! It is nothing short of a masterpiece, which I hope inspires death metal bands and delights fans for generations to come.
Rating – 5/5