Written by: Izzy
Let me open this up by saying this was one of my most anticipated releases of early 2021, and that undoubtedly affects how you perceive a piece of media, for better or for worse.
Portrayal of Guilt caught my eye back in 2018 with their debut Let Pain Be Your Guide, which was a brutal, blistering piece of raw metallic screamo, and one of my favourite records of that year. With their latest LP We Are Always Alone they take a pretty logical trajectory sound-wise, doubling down on the black metal and sludge influences and creating a much more sinister and hateful sounding album, all while still keeping that distinctly ferocious metalcore and grindcore spirit underpinning. Everything sounds perfectly in order and it should be amazing, right?
While I do enjoy most if not all of the stylistic changes, I think this album trips a little in the writing process. It gets caught in these very predictable and unexciting song structures--you have this repeating trend of shorter tracks being these breakneck pieces of blackened pseudo-grind, and then following them with a longer more mid-tempo atmospheric song. This provides a nice contrast between speeds and gets you some great moments that feel like straight up emoviolence at half speed, but leads to We Are Always Alone also feeling a bit meandering and aimless at times. Portrayal of Guilt’s tight songwriting doesn’t work as well when it is repeatedly ground to a halt by other tracks. As such, it doesn’t quite build up that same centrifugal energy that their previous work had--this album’s 26 minutes feel like ages in comparison to the briskness of Let Pain Be Your Guide and both their previous EPs.
That said, I like A LOT of what’s going on here, I don’t wanna give you the wrong idea about that. But it’s ultimately a bit of give and take, I suppose, Portrayal of Guilt made undeniable improvement in a lot of places but I think they still hit the sophomore slump here, We Are Always Alone is a good, even great album, but I know they can do better, so I hope they continue this sound and don’t get scared off by any bad press (although I can’t imagine a teenager who listens to black metal demos and Ecco2k all day saying “I think your record could be better” would be that intimidating.)
Portrayal of Guilt - We Are Always Alone was released Jan. 29th, 2021 from Closed Casket Activities
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!