Portrait Speak To SonicAbuse

Portrait, whose epic new album ‘burn the world’ is available via Metal Blade Records now (and which we reviewed here), are a trad. metal force to be reckoned with. Layering elements from the likes of King Diamond, Mercyful Fate and Hell into an all-encompassing sonic assault, the band deliver a satisfying rush of sheer metal-fuelled Adrenalin to the heart. We caught up with the band’s dexterous guitarist and creative force, Christian Lindell who talks us through the development of the band and the formation of ‘Burn the world’. 

Per Lengstedt has a stunning voice, how did things change for the band when he joined after the release of the debut album?

Things changed quite a lot I would say. Per has a wide range and a personality of his own in his voice (even though it to me sometimes strongly resembles Jeff Scott Soto on the Marching out album…) so when he joined the band we had a much bigger chance of striving towards something original compared to earlier.

How do you feel the band’s playing and style has evolved since your debut album? Has that evolution been a conscious development or simply the result of the band playing together over such a long period of time?

I would say both. We consciously strive to shape our music into something of our own, something that is relevant today and not something that someone else have already done before. This is done by trying to find inspiration within ourselves, instead of just looking outwards upon our musical inspirations, and thus creating strong personal bonds to the music and the lyrics. Apart from that there is no conscious strategy behind our development, and of course playing together for years also adds to the final outcome.

Over the years the band has had a number of line-up changes – is it difficult to balance the pressures of life and the needs of work with that of a professional, touring band?

Yes, to me it has been the hardest part to cope with out of all band related matters. You do want things to work out and the band to be as active as possible, but yet you have to understand the personal situations of others, and decide whether it is worth it or not to continue with the same line-up. In one way any full line-up with good enough musicians is better than an incomplete line-up, but on the other hand there is indeed a limit for how frustrated you can handle to become when it comes to having to turn down offers on gigs and tours and such things as a consequence of a band member’s personal situation.  

Who created the artwork for ‘Burn the world’? How involved are the band in developing the art for each release?

It was done by Adam Burke. I gave him some ideas and he also had a lot of visions for it himself and of course we are very satisfied with the result. We have always tried to be as involved as possible when it comes to artwork, layout and so on. We don’t have any expertise ourselves, but lack of inspiration there is not.

How is the music developed in the band, is it primarily around jamming on ideas and riffs, or is there a driving force in the band?

I write most of the music at home, then me and the drummer Anders arranges everything and do some rehearsal recordings to send to the other members for their input. Everyone helps in colouring the end result, but most initial ideas and songs comes from me and Anders.

How long did it take to record the album itself?

It is a bit hard to say as we only recorded the drums in a proper studio, it was done in two days. Then I recorded guitars and bass at home only during night time for a couple of weeks, and then Per did the vocals in the same way, at his home studio. Mixing and mastering was then done by Tore Stjerna (Necromorbus) in 2-3 weeks if I remember correctly.

How did you come to have Set Teitan and Kevin Bower guest on the album? How was it to record with them?

Both of them are friends of ours and Kevin Bower recorded his stuff at home in England. We basically sent our recording to him and he was free to add his keyboards to the parts where he thought they would fit, and he also wrote the album intro himself. Set recorded his solos at my place and we had a great time, and the recording went smoothly.

A particular highlight, for me, is the contrast between the beautiful ‘further she rode’ and the brutal ‘the sower’s cross’ – was that a pairing you planned form the start, or did that come about when you came to sequence the record?

We thought it fitted perfectly there musically as a ”calm before the storm” and also lyrically after Martyrs, as ”Further she rode” is dedicated and written as an instrumental tribute to a friend of Per’s that passed away and Martyrs is of course related to the dead in another way also.

What’s next for Portrait? Do you have tour dates planned? Will we see you in the UK?

We hope to be able to do as many shows as possible the coming year. Nothing is confirmed yet but I really hope we will be able to announce a European tour soon. And we definitely want to come back to the UK, so hopefully it won’t take long! We did a short tour over there after Crossroads was released and had a great time. We even managed to go and see Saxon and Hell in Wolverhampton on our day-off.

Any final words?

Dedicate your life to heavy metal or die!

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