Swedish purveyors of pure Heavy Metal darkness Portrait are back with their 5th full length entitled At One With None, and their guitar player Christian Lindell is here to share with us his thoughts about ongoing Portrait’s journey into supremacy…
Hello Christian and welcome to the pages of Metal sound! How are you doing these days?
Hello! I am OK here thanks! It feels great to finally have the fifth album out.
The main reason for this conversation is of course your fifth album entitled At One with None. Now that everything is said and done, how are you satisfied with its final outcome and where would you position it in band’s discography?
Yes, I am very pleased with the result. I don’t really know where to place it if thinking of our releases as some form of chart, but it is definitely a great addition to our discography and I feel proud that we have managed to now do five albums of high quality metal while continuing to develop our sound all the time.
Whereas your previous album Burn the world was fiery and angry, At One with None is much more malicious and works its way through slower passages. What would you say about the direction of the new album?
Yeah, I totally understand what you mean. We did not decide anything about the direction, we just started writing songs and this is the way in which it turned out. We have to follow our inspiration wherever it takes us and don’t force things through. It has to come by itself, or not at all. That is the way we have always done things and the only way that I see fit. When bands start thinking too much about what they are doing the genuine feeling becomes lost and they try to do something they have already done. Development is important!
You have spoken about Portrait’s own style and I would agree with it wholeheartedly. Were you guys annoyed when people were calling you Mercyful Fate rip-offs at the beginning?
No, not annoyed really. We did not hear that many who called us rip-offs actually. More like VERY inspired by Mercyful Fate, and of course we were and are. But we have developed a lot since the demo days and by now I guess most people can hear that we have a more distinct sound of our own. And by the way, there are worse bands than Mercyful Fate to be compared to…
You were also referring to Portrait as old school but I would say that the band is far from mere rip-off, so how would you perceive originality vs. quality debate in today’s metal? Is it hard to
stay fresh in this genre where a lot is said and done?
As a musician I definitely feel I must aim for both quality and originality. As a listener… I don’t know really. I like the new Iron Maiden album for example. But did they really do anything specific this time, did they add any unexpected elements? No, I don’t think so. It is just great song writing, and they already have their own unique sound. Same goes for the latest AC/DC albums and the last Motörhead albums of course. And The Rods as well to give another example. But all of those are bands who have gone beyond duty already, created their own style and keep doing it with good quality until the end. When it comes to new bands I am not really interested if they show no sign of originality. The old bands have already helped with expanding the metal genre as a whole, new bands need to do the same so that things don’t stagnate.
Last time you had some high profile guests on the album but for At One with None only the band is responsible for everything one will hear on the album. I guess it was due to world’s situation, was it hard to work on the release in this kind of environment?
Yeah, that was partly the reason. I think there would have been another Set Teitan solo or two also on this release, but as we don’t live in the same country anymore it became too complicated. But other than that, everything worked out as planned with the recording so we were not really affected by the pandemic in that sense.
While we are at it, we all know that Covid turned the world upside down and logically it took its toll on metal scene as well. How do you perceive this new reality and do you think that the scene will get back to normal again?
Nothing else than going back to “normal” for REAL should be accepted. Vaccine passports are NOT “back to normal”. It cannot become part of the metal scene. I understand that promoters want to get things going as quickly as possible, but I hope that everyone will agree that the restrictions in place should be temporary and that a person’s choice of getting vaccinated or not should be up to him or her and should not be used as a permanent solution for being able to go to metal shows (or perform one for that matter). Everyone needs to stay awake and we need to make sure what is claimed to be “temporary” really becomes temporary. Politics should not be allowed to divide the people of the metal scene.
What is definitely new is the fact that you guys did two videos for Curtains (The Dumb Supper) and Phantom Fathomer. What can you tell us about this new experience for Portrait? Is the girl killing the religious prick that molests her a metaphor that you want to send?
Yes, the girl is being silenced and blinded by the man keeping her imprisoned and she decides to rise up against him. The metaphor can be applied to both political and spiritual contexts, the latter being the most important.
At One with None will be released the same day as Iron Maiden’s new album. Does it bother you, and do you think that your album will suffer because of it? What do you expect from the new Maiden, by the way?
No, it doesn’t bother us! I have by now been listening to the new Maiden album a lot and I really like it. It has an X Factor vibe to it in parts, which I really enjoy. I always have the highest expectations for Iron Maiden, and they always meet them!
You are no stranger to splits or singles, can we perhaps expect something in that vein from Portrait in near future? Loved that split with Ram!
Yeah we will see! We have one song recorded during the “At one with none” sessions that is still not released, so perhaps it could be used for some form of split in the future.
I know that all the plans by now are uncertain at least, but are you perhaps preparing some gigs to promote At One with None?
Yes, we have a few club shows booked in Sweden and also a festival show booked for next year. The situation is complicated but hopefully it will be better soon. We are doing our best to book as many shows as possible!
I know that you are huge HM fan and hunter of cult releases, so have you come across some good bands from our area of East Europe? Antichrist, Enforcer and Nifelheim did some covers from bands of Ex Yugoslavia…
Yes, I am far from expert but I love bands like Heller and Bombarder for example! In general I like a lot of bands from Eastern Europe. Stuff like Aria, Pokolgép, Ossian etc and also of course Master’s Hammer and Root.
That would be all for this occasion, I would like to thank you for your time and wish you all the best! Your last message…
Hope to see you all on the road very soon! Thanks for the interview!
Answers by Christian Lindell
Questions by Slobodan Trifunovic