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Album Review: Portrait – The Host

5 min read

Review by Rick Eaglestone for MPM

For more than two decades Sweden’s Portrait have delighted fans with their own blend of heavy metal darkness, now they return with an occult tale of sword and sorcery for their sixth studio but first concept album The Host – set in 17th century era Sweden and revolves around an unnamed protagonist who, because of his experiences with Adversary.

Justice and hypocrisy of this world, decides to seek truth and strength through its’ Adversary.

The album’s instrumental piano driven introduction Hoc Est Corpus Meum creates a good atmospheric tone which is then followed up with an abundance of power-driven gallops for the album’s first real indication of soundscapes with the bands first choice for single The Blood Covenant and It is on this track that the soldier at midnight on Midsummer’s eve enters a pact with the Devil, asking for strength in battle and future abundance in exchange for the sacrament, which is to be stolen from church.

Continuing the concept is The Sacrament with has more of a majestic presence which moves into the darker, more foreboding Oneric Visions which has a great Mercyful Fate tinge to it.

Moving onto the ballad led One Last Kiss gives portrait the opportunity to add another dynamic to this concept piece, this is then complimented in stark contrast with progier tones on Treachery which still manages to keep a steady heavy metal heartbeat.

Sound The Horn unleashes a much faster, heavier side to the album, which continues into Dweller Of The Threshold but there is an undyeable panache as far a production and influence which flows into Die In My Heart

More of a methodical leaning seems the approach on Voice Of The Outsider which has some great dominating basslines, this is then followed by a plethora of solos and screams on From The Urn.

There is a great storytelling element to the clear future live favourite The Men Of Renown which would have also worked well as an instrumental piece.

The album concludes with the duo of Sword of Reason and the near twelve-minute opus The Passions Of Sophia which ultimately encapsulates the overall aesthetic wonderfully as it has been given the time to really explore and delve.

Portrait’s The Host, the first album to feature guitarist Karl Gustafsson as part of the band’s lineup, was recorded in JFK Studio in Sweden. Mixing and production tasks were overseen by singer Per Lengstedt at his own Perilous Productions Studio.

The Host” Track listing

1. Hoc Est Corpus Meum (Intro)
2. The Blood Covenant
3. The Sacrament
4. Oneiric Visions
5. One Last Kiss
6. Treachery
7. Sound The Horn
8. Dweller Of The Threshold
9. Die In My Heart
10. Voice Of The Outsider
11. From The Urn
12. The Men Of Renown
13. Sword Of Reason (The Steel Of Revenge)
14. The Passions Of Sophia

Per Lengstedt – vocals
Christian Lindell -guitars
Karl Gustafsson – guitars
Fredrik Petersson – bass
Anders Persson – drums




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