Portrait - Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae (Metal Blade/Riot)

Swedish act Portrait keep it simple and reap the dividends.
Release Date: 
10 May 2011 (All day)

Straight up-and-down heavy metal. Not many bands attempt it these days, apart from those that have been doing it for decades, so it is an utter, utter breath of fresh air to hear an album from a comparatively young band that is so, well, honest. That’s not to say CLMD (the translation from the Latin is, I think, about suffering the crimes of the Divine Majesty – ie God, but I’m not too sure) is simplistic in any way. The entire album will delight fans of intricate duel-lead guitar based rifferama, whilst the vocals of Per Karlsson, which veer between the grittiness of Virgin Steele’s David DeFeis and the stratospheric wailing of King Diamond, will delight all fans of the genre. In fact, if there’s one band that keeps cropping up whenever I sit down to write something about this album, it’s Mercyful Fate. The whole thing reeks of brilliance in the same way that that band's classic album Melissa reeks of brilliance. Even the guitar solo on opener Beast of Fire brings to mind the great Michael Denner and Hank Sherman, cutting through the hellish noise in the background with crystal clarity.
If I have one problem with the album it’s that the band don’t seem to know when to stop; Beast of Fire takes nearly eight minutes to achieve what could easily have been done in half the time, and this meandering quality about the songs leads to some saminess of material creeping in as the record nears it’s end. Too much of a good thing? Certainly, but the good thing is so very good – one listen to the chillingly brilliant Fateesque Infinite Descension will tell you that – that its a small complaint. But guys – next time could you get a producer in who’s not scared to say ENOUGH!!!??