Portrait
"The Host"
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June 21st, 2024

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Per Lengstedt: Vocals
Christian Lindell: Guitar
Karl Gustafsson: Guitar
Fredrik Petersson: Bass
Anders Persson: Drums

For almost 20 years, Portrait from Sweden have delivered their 'heavy metal darkness' to the world. The bands' development since the debut demo in 2006 is remarkable. Ever since then, Portrait has managed to develop and stretch their sound into several territories, without losing touch with their original core. Their current day live shows are testimony enough of this, in which songs from the first album or even the Welcome to My Funeral demo can be thrown into the set and blend in perfectly with songs from later releases, even though the songwriting and musicianship have developed greatly since the early days of the band.

According to the band themselves, their evolution is a result of the goal of finding their own identity as a band. Musical influences will always be part of that process, but the important thing is that the music is mainly channeled from within, rather than from any outside sources. In this way, the music becomes an extension of the songwriter and that process is according to Portrait something essential in order for contemporary music to become interesting.

Following up 2021's acclaimed At One With None, the band returns with their sixth album The Host, the first album to feature guitarist Karl Gustafsson as part of the bands' line-up.

Founder and guitarist Christian Lindell describes the new album as "an occult tale of sword and sorcery, accompanied by some of the most passionate heavy metal ever recorded. The Host is our first concept album. The story takes place in 17th century era Sweden and revolves around an unnamed protagonist who, because of his experiences with the injustice and hypocrisy of this world, decides to seek truth and strength through its' Adversary."

Although partly inspired by historic events, the story should not be mistaken for a history lesson.

"No, definitely not. There do exist court documents from that era in which people who were forced to join the army stood accused of having made pacts with the Devil, asking for luck, strength in battle and so on. That is what inspired us to place the story in that particular setting. I just caught that ball (or Baal) and ran away with it. That being said, it is no fantasy tale either, and the "sword and sorcery" part will be understood by everyone reading the lyrics."

One can imagine that the writing process of a concept album is different compared to that of a standard album. When asked about if this reflects the outcome and if the album showcase any new sides to Portrait, Lindell answers that "As soon as the 'outer lines' of the story had been shaped, the music almost wrote itself. It has been a very inspired writing process, both musically and lyrically. As far as lyrics goes, what I wanted to do was to let some of my own insights, opinions and experiences manifest through a (hopefully) entertaining story. These aspects are all in there, some in literal form and the rest in a more symbolic manner. There is a line in the last song that goes 'The sacrament shall take many forms', a sort of 'prophetic warning' uttered by the protagonist in a clairvoyant state. That sentence underlines one of the essential points of the whole story: we are not dealing with historic events, but rather an ongoing process that remains the same in essence but has manifested in different forms throughout history and continues to do so to this day."

On the musical side, drummer and co-founder Anders Persson adds that the album "is a versatile entity, showing all sides of what has become our own style of heavy metal, identity and sense of melody, yet with some new areas explored in several directions. There are songs that are our fastest and most 'extreme' so far along with songs of an almost semi-ballad feeling. It blends perfectly together musically and fits the dramaturgy of the story. There are songs that will make you cry and songs that will make you shit your pants."

The album was recorded in JFK Studio in Sweden and the mixing and production tasks were handled by singer Per Lengstedt in his own Perilous Productions Studio.

"It was a challenging task for sure. The album has 13 songs and the duration is almost twice as long as what would be considered normal. The important thing was to conjure up a production that would fit all aspects of the album, the aggressive and fast songs as well as the slower ones. It was a challenge, but there were also a lot of advantages with doing this myself instead of having to explain things to others and instruct them to do it. We are all in the end very satisfied with how the album turned out, both production and song wise. All killers, no fillers. There is so much going on in every song that we are convinced that even the youngsters of today with an average attention span of 5 seconds will be able to let go of their phone for some focused quality listening of the album in full, to experience and to receive…"



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