The Swedish guys´ "make-or-break" album is titled "Crossroads". Before its official release, the record label intensely advertised the album through elaborate promo and the first single “In Time”. The quiet acoustic intro, "Liberation", initiates the epic "At the Ghost Gate", which is actually more or less a seamless continuation of the previous album called "Crimen laesae Majestatis Divinae". However, with the 2011 album it took me two or three runs until I could appreciate the album, “At the Ghost Gate”, manages this feat within seconds. "We were not alone" starts with a riff reminiscent of Ozzy Osbourne in his Ultimate Sin days and doesn´t pale, whatsoever, in comparison to the first track. The previously released, "In Time", starts with an "early Judas Priest memorial riff" and Judas Priest, and almost needless to say, of course, King Diamond, echo in Per Lengstedt´s way of singing and in the entire arrangement of the songs. Portrait present us with catchy songs that are, not for one moment, too simple. "Black Easter" is, in my opinion, the most obvious nod to the early King Diamond creative period. It´s good but nothing more. The following songs, "Ageless Rites", and the musicalised threat, "Our Roads must never cross", are both gems of Retro Heavy Metal/US Metal. But extra-long "Lilly", the last track on "Crossroads”, is nearly outclassing all previous titles, the sawingly singing guitars alone are insane.
Summing up, "Crossroads" is a strong contender for the "Album of the year" title. All available thumbs up! After just a few runs, all titles already sound so familiar that one might think, “Crossroads” has always been there and Portrait just set the music free. Somehow it reminds me of the grand old ones.....Cthulhu R´lyeh wgah´nagl fhtagn.
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