Australian blackened death metallers Portal headlined a show at Nambucca, a small venue in Islington, on Sunday. I had never seen the band before and was greatly looking forward to the gig. I had been turned on to Portal only recently after reading an interview with Phil Anselmo, who raved about them. “I think I have a mental problem because I can’t stop listening to Portal, for God’s sake,” said Anselmo in the interview with wweek.com. So being a big Phil Anselmo fan I had to check out this band. And I’m glad I did. Though I wouldn’t say I love the band, they’ve not given me the mental problem they gave Phil, I certainly do like them a lot. So going to show on Sunday, despite their being four acts on the bill, there was only one act I really gave a toss about. To my surprise, however, they weren’t my favourite act of the night. ThePortal set was great, don’t get me wrong, but something about Grave Miasma, a band I had never heard before, really clicked with me. They’re a London band who released their first album, Odori Sepulcrorum, in 2013. I recommend any death metal fan to check them out. I certainly will be keeping and eye on them.
As we were waiting in line for the gig, I mentioned to the friend I was with that Portal are obviously influenced by Peter Gabriel. Being a little unfamiliar with pre-Sledgehammer Gabriel my friend looked at me as if I was crazy. “‘In Your Eyes’ is far cry from ‘Omnipotent Crawling Chaos’ twat,” I could tell he was thinking. Of course, I wasn’t talking about their music, though I do believe Gabriel has a great death metal album in him somewhere. I was talking about The Curator’s penchant for eleaborate costumes. While the rest of the band wear executioner garb, The Curator, Portal’s lead singer, has a variety of different outfits, ranging from a clock head to a ghostly maiden. Gabriel, though, has The Curator beaten hands down. His costumes were legion, for there were many; Fox Head, Old Man, Rael, the Flower and more. Though I’ve not read Portal reference Gabriel in any interviews (a great interview with Portal can be found here), I’m sure the band are aware of what Gabriel did during his time in Genesis, how he would incorporate a variety of costumes during the band’s stage shows to help tell the story of their songs. “Nowadays there’s very little shock value,” said Gabriel in an interview for the book Genesis: Chapter & Verse, “but in those days when you arrived with make-up and a shaven head, it was other-worldly, scary and disturbing.”
‘Otherworldly, Scary and disturbing’, Peter Gabriel used to be so ‘death-metal’ and I don’t even know if I’m being ironic or not.