"Abandon every hope, ye who enter here." Forget about the Gates of Hell inscription, Dante had visions of "Seepia" by Australia's PORTAL. The death metal contained herein is not intended for the "traditional" fan or those with weak stomachs and closed minds. "Seepia" is a terrifying mix of technical savagery and horrifying soundscapes that'll send you scurrying back to your holes.
Originally released in 2003, Canada's Profound Lore Records has released the re-mastered version as a digipack with new artwork. Production-wise, if you're not one that enjoys the decidedly underground mixes of certain primitive black or death metal bands, this one may annoy you to no end. But then, that cold, abrasive mix is part of what makes the atmosphere of "Seepia" so full of dread and disease. Beginning and ending with unnerving terror trips of sound on the opening and closing parts of "Glumurphonel" and "The Endmills", respectively, everything in between is a Luceriferian vortex of swirling scythes and body parts. As imperfect as the comparisons may be, consider a black metal version of INCANTATION crossed with a reckless, barbaric NILE and one begins to understand the paralyzing madness of "Seepia" (and I do mean "begin"). Visions of the treacherous flying ball from Phantasm waiting just around the corner crept in and out of my brain as I took the tour with this nefarious rabble of Aussies. The album begs you to spend time with it at high volumes, a double-edged sword to say the least, as the more you understand, the more susceptible you become to severe bouts of dementia.
Ratings don't work so well with an album like "Seepia". It is clearly not for everyone, and those straddling the fence of opinion will be few and far between. Regardless, the creativity and passion for the art is without question. The jarring arrangements and maddening aversion to traditional structure will be a tough pill to swallow for many. I found that once the initial shock wore off, "Seepia" became more and more intriguing, even though it is not one to toss into the player just any old time. Prolonged exposure to evil of this magnitude cannot be healthy anyway.