Blending in-your-face punk rock energy with a piercing metallic edge, Portrayal of Guilt sound monumentally powerful on their heavy new album We Are Always Alone, a Jan. 29 release from the label Closed Casket Activities.
The record sounds unhinged. Featuring nine songs totaling under 30 minutes, the attention-demanding collection of vitriolic musical blasts packs a staggering level of searing energy.
Portrayal of Guilt move rather swiftly through their performances, which stay hard-hitting even in the comparatively less intense moments. On “The Second Coming,” the album opens with a musical flamethrower of blistering blackened punk chaos that shifts into an aggressive swagger as the track concludes, and this feeling reappears on follow-up track “Anesthetized” and elsewhere. Frequently, the tones themselves carry a ton of weight, as if the band has dipped their entire album into some kind of sonic sludge, which makes the whole experience feel even more unmoored, like drifting across a menacingly roiled sea. Amid the comparatively less pummeling moments — like some of “It’s Already Over” and clean singing and a jarringly grim post-punk vibe towards the end of “My Immolation” — the sense of devastation remains clearly palpable while the instrumentation sounds like a wail.
The music feels like an internally surging maelstrom, as if capturing the experience of suddenly feeling metaphorical emotional ground give out. With a ton of relentless unease marking even the most straightforward musical elements, the songs feel like the sounds of exhaustedly stifling feelings of emotional collapse and, perhaps, largely failing in the effort. There’s an interesting sense of sonic intricacy on the record that makes these tracks feel like a very personal experience — there’s really nothing major that feels distant about the presentation. Instead, in line with the title, the music feels like lonesome emotional devastation, as though lying alone in the dirt and in the dark.
There’s definitely a sense of freedom on We Are Always Alone, which doesn’t feel particularly restrained. However, this freedom allows for an immersion into a metaphorical simmering pool of despair. A feeling of light on the horizon doesn’t figure particularly prominently in the experience of this latest Portrayal of Guilt effort, but the record feels unmistakably compelling, and a perhaps strange sense of peacefully clear-headed morbidity courses through the songs.
Listen to We Are Always Alone below!