The combination of name and Holy Roar affiliation should be more than enough to parse out what Portrayal Of Guilt are like, another bleak, brutal hardcore band to add to the label’s already stacked roster. And sure, that could be something of a concern with regards to typecasting, given how many albums that could easily fit that description have been released this year, but Holy Roar have more than proven how savvy they are with this sort of thing.
And so, ’Let Pain Be Your Guide’ comes along, packed with all the blackened, burning violence and oozing misanthropy that you’d expect from hardcore in this vein, but with a pivot towards extreme metal territory to heighten those sensations even further. ’Daymare’ might start off the album with sonorous atmosphere before breaking into crushing, sledgehammer grooves, but fast forward to ’A Burden’ or ’Life Holds Nothing’, the sort of vein-popping flurries that never even approach the two-minute mark, and there’s a brusque brutalism that feels all the more potent.
Sure, that’s nothing particularly new in itself – hardcore bands like this always appear to be striving to one-up each other in terms of rage and brevity – but Portrayal Of Guilt are more successful than most. Not only do they know when to temper the full-force assault with seething atmospheric pieces to build up that tension. However, with Matt King’s array of larynx-mangling screams, this truly feels unhinged and dangerous in a way that so little hardcore does.
It’s true that can limit the appeal to only the most ardent fans of the genre, but Portrayal Of Guilt are well worth exploring, if only to get a feel for one of the darkest, most breakneck hardcore releases of the year. And at just over twenty minutes long, there’s really no reason not to.
‘Let Pain Be Your Guide’ by Portrayal Of Guilt is out now on Holy Roar Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)