The Portrait are a refreshing downtempo four-piece metalcore band from New Mexico, and even then it’s pretty hard to describe the band as ‘metalcore’ alone, as there seems to be influences of a sparse range in their sound – especially ‘djent’, ambient and progressive metal. If you’re hoping for a The Devil Wears Prada sound-a-like, then you’re looking at the wrong band.
This 6-song EP runs along a concept of the relationship between the Royal Stars and the Earth. Earth discovers the Royal Stars, a collective entity above the planet that watch over it. Then Earth creates humanity while giving it conscience; a right reserved only for the Royal Stars – eventually the gift becomes clear and the stars are initially unhappy with Earth’s actions, and events unfold.
So, with this story in mind, you can expect philosophical lyrics involving Gods, scenes of apocalypse, denial and acceptance, etc. The EP is split into four parts with an instrumental intro and outro. The opening track Arches prepares you with this ground-shaking rumble with all these echoing sounds, before these deep, tremelo-picked guitars jump in and the rest of the band follows in this metalcore/’djent’ mixing sound.
This sound is pretty continuous for the whole theme, obviously with alterations. The second track Part I. Gaia starts with this really nice spacey high-end guitar riff while vocalist Matt West introduces himself with clear pronunciation despite the almost spit-like shouting, with slight reverb. The track also features guest vocalist John Luzietti, who speaks as the Earth, having this mean guttural shout which morphs into growls. It’s pretty intense.
The following tracks also feature different guest vocalists with their own styles, speaking as the stars or Earth, keeping the listener on their toes the whole time. Matt Sanchez on Part III. Taurus has this very emotional hardcore sound which is accompanied by sombre waves of low, ringing guitars. Polyrhythm riffs also come in and out of each song – Part IV. Leo opens with one that just sounds punishing and judgemental.
The problem with “Infinity” is that its story seems so deep, yet only explored so briefly, that it should be material for a full-length album and maybe explained in more detail. It can be difficult to distinguish different tracks too, instrumentally.
But “Infinity” is definitely worthwhile for anyone looking for something more thoughtful and experimental than most metalcore bands, and sounds like unimaginable mix of Brutality Will Prevail, Hopesfall and “Hollow Crown”-era Architects.
You can download the EP for free here: http://theportraitnm.bandcamp.com/
Favourite tracks: Part I. Gaia, Part III. Taurus.