Portrayal of Guilt’s “Devil Music” is out today via Run For Cover and it comes with an experimental approach to heavy music, drawing upon a diverse array of musical influences, resulting in a sound that instantly captures the listener’s attention with its fresh and innovative approach. Devil Music’s sonic landscape transcends the boundaries of traditional blackened metal and hardcore, and is sure to leave a lasting, terrifying impression.
The album was tracked in two different sessions in early 2022 and offers five new original songs on Side A, followed by a reimagining of those same five songs on Side B, replacing much of the traditional guitar and bass setup with an orchestral string section, acoustic bass, and brass.
Portrayal of Guilt has evolved from traditional ’90s screamo to a more blackened and sludgy metal intensity, as evidenced by their previous releases, such as “CHRISTF**KER.” With a sense of ambition and scope is similar to Full of Hell, with whom they have toured extensively, they have also released horror-inspired videos, channeled Dante’s Inferno on their previous LP, and now on “Devil Music,” they have started to jettison familiar rock instrumentation in favor of gothic orchestration.
The album’s midpoint makes the bold move to sonically bifurcate, with the final five tracks reinterpreting the previous five as a horrifying orchestral epic. Vocalist Matt King’s abrasive screams remain, but they are accompanied by piercing strings, booming timpani, and doom-laden horns, creating a nightmarish atmosphere. The audacious experiment is exemplified by the terrifying “III (Burning Hand),” incorporating the most distinct instrumentation of the bunch, including frantic bells and layers of demonic vocals.
Side A is equally alarming, with the band’s raw and spacious textures put to punishing use on “Untitled,” whose hallowed space echoes like some impossibly large chamber. “Burning Hand,” on the other hand, opts for groove and movement, riding a discordant bounce that jitters and twitches like a possessed marionette.
Portrayal of Guilt excels at creating intuitively compelling atmospherics that never feel labored.
“Devil Music” is not for the faint-hearted and is only likely to appeal to those with a predisposition to grim and nasty music.
However, for those who like transgression and experimentation mixed in with their heaviness, Portrayal of Guilt has created something truly special with this album. Their previous dabbling in horror cinema, and the soundtrack-inspired B-side of “Devil Music,” suggest that the band may be considering an indie horror film in the future. “Devil Music” proves that Portrayal of Guilt has the skills to pull it off. We’re all in.