Name that riff, Version 2

October 6, 2008 at 6:18 pm (Name that riff) (, , )

You guys did pretty well with the first one, and I had a lot of fun making it. I raised the difficulty level this time, so let’s see if you all can keep up! Comment with any or all of the riffs and I’ll let you know if you’ve got it or not. If you have any other comments or questions, let me know, I love to hear from you!

Edit: This is turning into a real group effort! Was this too hard? Check the comments to see the guesses and my response….Still no takers for Riff 7!


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Name that metal riff, version 1

September 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm (Name that riff) (, , )

Hey everyone.

I love to hear from readers, but I think that reviews and interviews don’t lend themselves much to feedback. So, I decided to do a “Name that metal riff” game for you! I created a Youtube account just for this, so if I get a lot of feedback and you all want more, I would be happy to do more videos.

These get progressively harder! Good luck, I bet most metal fans would be able to get a few. Only the TRUE can get all seven!! Leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Guesses, technical advice (My picking hand looks strange!), insults, whatever you want. The whole point of this is to hear from you.

EDIT: As of October 1st, 2008 we have a partial winner. Silence got six of seven right. Hats off to him or her, so if you’re stumped you can scroll down for the correct answers. If you want hints, I put some hints for the only remaining mystery: Riff 6.

Have fun!

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Interview with Mike Majewski of Devourment

July 9, 2008 at 9:33 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , )

Mike Majewski live

Mike Majewski

Devourment vocalist Mike Majewski is an easy guy to find. He’s frequently on different death metal discussion boards, chatting about old school death metal, women, and a whole lot of video games. Despite his presence online, he rarely discusses his band, so I decided to get some info about the band’s next album, artwork, merch, and those crazy horse photos on the band’s Myspace.

First off thanks for the interview.

Any time.

Biggest question first: Give us an update on Devourment. Do you have a studio picked out yet? Realistically would you be able to give a time estimate?

Pretty much. We always recorded with Braxton Henry and the one time we strayed from him, we regretted the shit out of it. Not gonna make that mistake again, he is an amazing engineer and producer. We aren’t as far along as we’d hoped, but realistically we are looking at late 08, early 09.

Speaking of art, I know Seagrave re-did the maggot for you, are you pleased with that? Are you yourself going to do any other art for the album?

Yes, its absolutely amazing. He just re-imagined the design while staying true to the concept, the man is brilliant. We are going to make the next album layout a who’s who of underground artists. Seagrave is already known, and I won’t spoil any of the others, but lets just say there is gonna be art from several major underground artists, some already in our possession, some in progress. I’m stoked

Describe some of the new songs.

What we are really shooting for on the new one is variation. We want each song to have more of an identity than that of Molesting and Butcher. We will stay true to our style, but we are going to expand as well. We don’t want to continue with the same formulas that we, and a lot of other similar bands are currently doing. We are focusing a lot more on intensity. There will be a couple of trademark groovier songs, there is one that is pretty much straight grind. We are losing a bit of convention to keep things interesting. Are we gonna piss off some of our old fans? I hope not. Are we looking to make new fans? Not really. We just want to be smart about what we are doing and surprise some people.

What kind of production are you going for on the new album? Would you be happy if it sounded like Butcher the Weak?

Butcher is a chapter for us and I love the production on it. The next one for me has to have a much beefier guitar tone, perhaps a bit less bass distortion. Ruben upgraded his rig quite a bit since then, so its pretty much taken care of. I’d like the vox slightly louder in the mix as well.

Any chance of the recording sessions being filmed? You could be 3:3 for CDs/DVDs…

For sure. We did that for Butcher the Weak which is on our second DVD. The studio experience for us is as good as playing live. We all get along great, we have a blast and documenting it is pretty much essential.

Is Ruben going to do vocals on this album? Would guitar solos ever fit in Devourment?

I want him to. I think I could probably convince him. I have a lethal weapon at my disposal so it would be a shame not to utilize it. Solo’s? Nah, not us. I’m not opposed to some leads though if it feels right.

What kind of misogynist slogans are you cooking up for the next line of Devourment shirts?

Haha. Actually you’ll probably be seeing less and less of that, even in the lyrics. Again, trying to expand and not repeat ourselves. Not entirely though, you’ll definitely see some whore bashing lyrics. I had some girl troubles since Butcher came out so I gotta vent a little at least.

If you had to choose only one, would you rather continue being a vocalist for Devourment or continue to create images and logos for other bands?

That’s actually a tough one because my first passion is art. But I’d choose vox. There is no better feeling than knowing you will have an insane crowd no matter when and where you play. That’s the dream man.

What was the deal with the horsehead photos on your myspace?

The captain

The Captain

HAHAHAHA. That’s the Captain. He found this place in Tokyo that sold masks and he said it was instant, he had to have it. His theory is that all woman are whores and need horse cock, so he shall now be known as Captain Horse. The Horse may be making some live appearances from what I hear.

What was Japan like? What were some of your impressions?

Dude, there is no words. It’s the best place I have ever been. I have never witnessed a friendlier, more organized civilization than I saw there.

Did you do anything differently after the UK customs fiasco?

We just try to find out the stipulations of getting into the country trouble free. We weren’t properly informed about the UK’s requirements, so we paid the price. Live and learn.

Do you think Brutal Bands will help you finance a US tour after the new album?

Hmmm. If it happens, I’d like to think so. Seriously they are a great label but I’m not sure that we would ever do a major tour. We have to break it up because of our jerbs.

What merch do you have right now, what’re you doing in the near future? Who should be contacted, and how?

It would do you no good to contact anyone else in the band, as they have an aversion to fan mail. I do not however. At the moment we have 2 new cool maggot designs, by myself and Mark Riddick, so we’ll push those for a while.

If you could remix 1.3.8. and make it sound like any Roadrunner death metal album, what would you choose?

Cause of Death

You have legions of fans who buy any shirt you do art for, but do you ever feel held back? Have you ever explored painting? Would you ever try a non-violent piece?

At times a bit. The reason I haven’t been doing color lately is because I have been trying to improve my skills there. I have gotten better at that though and did some recent color pieces that I feel are my best. As for non violent stuff, I have a whole portfolio of fine art, pastels, figure drawing, airbrush, pencil, you name it. I went to art school for 2 and a half years.

OK, now for the fun. One or the other?

Here in After or XBOX 360?

Son of a bitch.

SMN or your own forum?

Can’t decide. I go to both for different reasons and I like them and the members equally.

Your mother’s love or the breakdown in “No Jesus, No Beast”?

Pssh, sorry ma.

If you were forced to switch vocal cords with King Diamond or Varg who would you choose? By the way, Devourment is headlining Wacken the next day…

Haha. Gotta be the King, I worshipped him throughout highschool and still do.

Ask yourself a question I didn’t…

Hey Mike, what would you change about the current metal scene?

More Unity!

And thank you!

Thank you man


Devourment Myspace

Mike Majewski’s Art Myspace (logos, shirt art, etc)

Devourment homepage

Brutal Bands (Devourment’s label)

Video of Devourment playing “Babykiller” live

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What are drum triggers, and are they for cheaters?

July 4, 2008 at 10:48 am (Essays) (, , , )

Drum triggers have received an unfair beating (pardon the pun) in reviews and discussion forums. I’ve seen countless reviews attributing magical powers to triggers, often claiming triggers make drummers faster. This is unfair and ignorant. There are instances when using triggers can either hurt or help a drummer, but they aren’t inherently cheating devices.

Microphones or drum triggers can be used in live or studio situations. There is usually be a blend of the two techniques in either situation. The original approach to drum amplification or recording is with microphones. Usually, this involves dedicated microphones for the bass drum(s), toms, some cymbals, and an overhead microphone. The signal can then be recorded analog or digital, though purely analog recordings are becoming more and more sparse.

Drum triggers are small transducers that are placed on the drum, each one dedicated to its own drum. The trigger sends a digital signal to a drum module, which can then export the digital information to a P.A. system or recording software. A sample for each drum is selected. Simply put, “digital” means something is either off or on. So a trigger is either “firing” and producing a signal, or not.

Therein lies the complaint with trigger systems. A drummer can lightly tap a snare, or smack it with a 2 foot wind-up, but the module will report the same signal. High quality microphones will pick up a light tap or strong hit with greater fidelity, producing a nuanced and dynamic signal. This is the only place the “cheating” accusations truly belong: a drummer can merely feather-tap the double bass pedals and the module will produce an optimized and consistent signal. So there is no auditory reward for a powerful drummer with stamina who uses triggers.

Triggers are still a double-edged sword. The inconsistencies in timing will become much more apparent. With microphones, a flurry of double bass can become blurry and the drummer can sometimes scoot by on less than perfect playing. Triggers expose flubs and off tempo hits more clearly than microphones.

It should be noted that in metal, most drummers trigger the bass drums for live performances. A mic’ed bass drum is very difficult to mix, and will more often than not sound like a muddy thud. Triggers in a live mix can be tricky, but they provide much greater clarity and a great bass drum sample can make the whole band sound better. Another note: I can think of no recording or performance I’ve heard that has utilized triggers for cymbals. Metal cymbals don’t work well with triggers.

A third option in the studio is sound replacement. After recording digitally, each drum hit can be replaced with an optimized recording of that specific drum. For example, if a drummer hits a snare weakly, the bad snare hits can be replaced with strong sounding samples. The end result can sound identical to triggered drums. For an example of this, check Necrophagist’s Epitaph.

After reading all of this, you may want some examples of triggered and mic’ed drums on different albums.

Triggered (entire drum kit):

Decapitated – Nihility

Behemoth – Zos Kia Cultus

Not Triggered (entire drum kit):

Dismember – Dismember (entire recording was done analog)

Suffocation – Human Waste

Immolation – Dawn of Possession

Bass drum triggered, Snare mic’ed:

Brutus – Slachtbeest

Inveracity – Extermination of Millions

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Malevolent Creation – Retribution review

June 26, 2008 at 4:13 pm (Reviews) (, , )

Retribution front

Roadrunner/Roadracer Records were essential to the early 90’s metal scene. Gorguts, Atheist, Deicide, Exhorder, Pestilence, Obituary, and Malevolent Creation released some of their best material on Roadrunner. After the commercial peak of death metal in the early 90’s Roadrunner dropped most of their roster in favor of radio-friendly rock. Metal fans will never forgive Monte Connor, the face of A&R for the label, but a record label is a business, not a foundation for the arts. Instead of being bitter, lovers of extreme metal should rejoice: without Roadrunner bands like Malevolent Creation wouldn’t have had the money to record in top studios like Morrisound in Florida.

Malevolent Creation had worked with Morrisound Studios to record 1991’s The Ten Commandments, but in 1992 they recorded what I feel is one of the best death metal albums ever. The production is unusual for Morrisound: the guitars are blurry and bass heavy while the drums sound have a more wooden resonance, unlike the usual clicky drum sound of the ’90s. The bass is spongy and wet, easily heard occupying the lower register. Bret Hoffman’s vocals are frighteningly upfront, with heavy reverb only applied at appropriate times. Bret doesn’t sound like the “cookie monster”, it doesn’t “all just sound like a bunch of unintelligible yelling”. The usual death metal vocal clichés just don’t apply: Bret is easily understood, and his voice sounds all-too-human.

The band talks of this album’s recording experience being one of their most laid-back. Phil Fasciana, lead guitar, has mentioned in interviews that it was essentially a 2-week party with microphones, but the result was a very tight and disciplined effort from a group of obviously skilled musicians. Every individual performance is extraordinary. But what makes this album above average is the final combination. The guitar parts are heavy at the right times, fast at the right times, but they would lack their attack without Alex Marquez’s drum performance. Retribution catches Marquez at his absolute peak. Retribution shows his ability to blast comfortably as well as perform catchy drum rolls that are guaranteed to have you air-drumming after a few listens. The drum patterns are essential for the rhythmic feel of the album, but Bret’s vocals compound the mesmerizing cadence of songs like “The Coldest Survive”. Sometimes the album’s tempo launches vicious surprise attacks, other times it lurches slowly and powerfully. Check out the groove at 1:09 in “No Flesh Shall Be Spared”: every individual part is good, but the combined result is mind-blowing.

“Slaughter of Innocence” and “Monster” have become live staples, but they aren’t the only good songs on the album. The undeniable groove of “Coronation of our Domain” and “No Flesh Shall Be Spared” compliments the ferocity of faster songs. “Mindlock” opens with my absolute favorite vocal pattern of all time, the combination of drum and vocal patterns make it undeniably catchy.

Malevolent Creation are tireless death metal workhorses, but have never come close to topping this album. Retribution simply set the bar too high. Bret’s voice would never again sound as thick and hateful. The guitar parts would never be as catchy. Marquez continued drumming for Malevolent for one more album, but soon after he lost steam and dropped out of the metal scene.

Over the course of 21 years and 10 full lengths, Malevolent Creation have had three vocalists, five guitarists, eleven drummers and seven bass players pass through their ranks. Retribution closes with a quote from hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski discussing his killing M.O.: “I’ve done it all ways, as far as you’ve known, or heard…there isn’t [sic] too many things I haven’t tried…”. With an endless supply of musicians coming and going, Malevolent Creation have tried many different formulas, but they’ve never topped the lethal combination of musicians on Retribution .

Pictures of the Japanese edition:

Retribution Japanese edition

Retribution Japanese edition

Retribution Japanese edition back

Retribution Japanese edition back


Malevolent Creation Myspace

Malevolent Creation Homepage (out of date)

Retribution Front and Back high-res scans

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Interview with Paulo (Guitar) of Copremesis

June 22, 2008 at 10:35 pm (Interviews) (, , , , )


I’ve known Paulo for more than a year now from a forum we both post at. He would talk about his band pretty often, mostly about how lousy they are. Well, in May he sent me a few tracks off of Copremesis’ Muay Thai Ladyboys album, and I was really, genuinely impressed. Yes, the band doesn’t take itself very seriously, but there’s a level of technicality and brutality that serious bands don’t always achieve. I was really excited to hear that Copremesis would be going on tour with Defeated Sanity and Mucopus up and down the east coast in May before playing Maryland Death Fest 2008. I met Paulo in person at MDF, and he was as friendly and entertaining as he is online. I sent him an e-mail to get his thoughts on his new album, label, and tour experience. I threw in some extra questions to make it a bit more fun. Enjoy, and I wish Paulo the best of luck in the future!

P.S. I’ve been cruising the ‘net for more than 5 years, and rarely have I seen anything more horrific than the layout for Muay Thai Ladyboys. Look at it only if you have a strong stomach, or a penchant for shemales. Salamat, Paulo!

Copremesis formed in 2001 and you just released your first full length. What took so long?

One word: Procrastination. Besides that, we had a couple of line up changes. When Wilson left, first we had to look for drummers. Everyone just thought we were just a joke and no one took us seriously then we remembered Daniel originally played drums for us. So he switched back from Bass/Vocal duties to Drum duties. Another thing was that we had to BUY a drum set. So whatever money we made from the split with Pustulated split and colored logo shirts we had all went to buying the set.

By the time we recorded the drums, Daniel was well on his way to leave for the USMC. There was no pressure from anyone because at the time a lot of people thought we broke up or simply suck. The only label that showed interest of putting out our album at this time was Paragon. All other label interest before the split basically either flaked or lost interest. So we [Alex and I] took our sweet-ass time and just recorded the guitars whenever we have the chance to see each other.

Sad thing is that we did NOT take advantage of this opportunity. The album could’ve sounded much better but at the end result we’re pretty much satisfied with it. There are things that I would like to change but what done is done.

How often did Copremesis play gigs before going on tour? Did you feel adequately prepared for touring?

Prior to the tour, we’ve only played 19 shows in our existence as a band and I think 2 of them wouldn’t be really considered a “show.” Besides being lazy and procrastinating we had a very busy personal schedule from work/school/internship/going to jail/kicked out of the house/etc. We also thought that playing too many shows sucks. We don’t have enough funds/time to do that and people that genuinely like us will eventually get tired seeing us.

Somehow I felt we were pretty adequate for it. The short 4 day mini-tour was PERFECT for a band like us. I know a lot of bands out there are into hardcore touring, for us we just want to tread on this as carefully as possible and lessen as much losses; especially with the rising gas prices/recessions. It’s tvff.

I remember talking to you on the phone two days in to your tour, and you told me someone in the touring package had had an accident with an ambulance. What happened?

HAHAHAHAHA, yeah that was us! And during that day it was Jacob’s (Defeated Sanity) birthday too! Yeah, we were on the Bronx going to the highway for our FIRST DATE of the tour. It was raining cats and dogs. There was this NYFD Ambulance van in front of us, they had a car pulled over because of some accident and in front of that car was a NYPD car! Somehow our driver didn’t notice how wide both our van and the NYFD van was and our side mirror annihilated theirs. At that moment, we just looked each other trying to decide if we should jet it. Alex said that a Cop saw us so we just played it safe and parked. The NYFD and the NYPD took their sweet time. We had to deal with BOTH of them, both had to get the license and insurance and at times looked like they were playing Tug-O-War with the papers. Load in time at the Allston show was 6:00 pm, we got there at 9:45 pm.

Bless Dysentary, Sexcrement, Mucopus and the whole entire time for being patient with us. I remember when we finally got to the highway we were hauling 90+ mph, while it was raining. NEVER AGAIN!

Oh yeah while waiting for the cops and the firemen to come get our info, I went across the street to buy Jacob’s bday cake. I totally forgot to buy plates and utensils. We had to eat it by hand. HAHAHAHA!

How do you feel about the final product of Muay Thai Ladyboys? Are you satisfied with the production? Layout? Performances?

As the artwork, lay out, sound quality [compared to the master] and physical product itself, PARAGON and DGR totally ruled! As for the production of the album, I wish we didn’t procrastinate so much, we could’ve done so much. Lowering my main vocals, fixing the toms [which are barely audible], better kick trigger sample, better compression/mastering. All of these things are learning experiences for us. Now that we have Ian on the boat, I’m sure the future material will sound a lot better.

What are you doing to make that incredibly irritating high pitched vocal for the album’s first song? You pulled it off live, too….

You love that. Yes you do, Sam. HAHAHAHA! I’m speaking “Thai” at that part. On the album we pitch-shifted the vocals up and we did the same for the MDF set but usually we don’t do that. I just go in aZn mode and squint as hard as possible.

Why don’t you wear shoes on stage?

At the Alston show, my shoes were SOAKED. I had to take it off. Personally, I like the feeling of the rug on my feet. Yum! FUNGUS!


I heard if you play the silence after Tetsuo backwards and amplify it 30 dB, you can hear a cover of Iniquity’s “Once Encysted and Dormant”. Is that true?

We do not kiss and tell…yes.

In all seriousness, there IS a bonus track on the album. What’d you cover? Whose choice was that?

ITS CREDITED IN THE LAY OUT!!! ITS THERE! HAHAHAHA! You don’t even have to squint!!! Here’s a clue: JAPAN.

What are the future plans for Copremesis? Do you have any albums left on your deal with Paragon records? Would you ever tour again, or was it too stressful?

We are working on new material for 2 splits. 7″ with Buckshot Facelift [Super pissed off Grindcore from Long Island] and a 3 way split with Cesspool and Gorged Afterbirth. We’re still looking for a label to put these two out. Especially the 7″ with Buckshot. We’re aiming to record this late fall.

We only have a one album deal with Paragon. They’ve been really generous to us and a blessing. Nothing is written in stone yet. Personally, it’s too early to say for now but I could see ourselves releasing a 2nd full-length with them. That also depends if they dig the new material/direction.

Now for the fun part of the interview: One or the other

Iniquity or Malignancy?

This question hurts. IniQuitY does have my favorite album of all time but their later releases aren’t to par with that. In the other hand Malignacy have only gotten better and improved at each releases and has so much riffs that people wouldn’t notice if we stole 40 or 60 of them….so I have to decide…that I hate you, Sam.

Brodequin or Copremesis?

Brodequin, no contest. I get tiny penis rage whenever I listen to this band. We are no where in their league of pure ping-blasting brutality. We are not worthy!

Fry’s persistant unrequited love for Leela or Jurassic Bark?


I’m sorry, Sam but I am a romantic, Fry’s undying love for Leela wins it for me. PLUS, Seymour and Fry got to chill a little longer in the movie! [I know you hate that movie because of that reason hahahaha]

And I’m perpetually in the same state as Fry. I need to move on. I hate women and I can’t stop loving them.

Maryland Death Fest or Wacken Open Air?

I would totally pick WOA. More diversity, awesome beer, OPEN AIR! Plus, EUROPEAN WOMEN!!! Though, it lacks the super awesome death/gore/grind acts that MDF packs.

Tagalog or Human Remains?

“RICH AND CREAMY! JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT!” I would deny my nationality over Human Remains. YES. WONGH.

Bob Vigna or Danny Nelson?

Both awesome dudes. Bob wrote an e-mail one time to my mom trying to convince her to let me go to see an Nile show. It didn’t work but the gesture was awesome. Danny Nelson is more like of a big brother to us. He gives us advice like on Transformers, GI JOE, Star Wars and all the best things in life.

Wicked riffs vs Brutal Howls? Baldy Bob.

Personally: I’ll take Danny, he’s help us a lot. Band wise and personal issues also.

Thanks, Paulo. Now ask yourself a question I didn’t think to ask.

Did you get laid at MDF?

No. *sigh*

Any closing words?

Thank You so much, Sam! This is one of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever had so far! This rules!

As for closing words for ya’ll out there: Remember, you only have what you have on your hands. Do not let it go because eventually, everything must die, even dreams. Live life happy, it’s too short to be pissed off all the time. Regrets, we all have them, make choices that lessen that.

Come full circle.


Copremesis Myspace

Paragon Records

Return to the Pit photos of the band’s MDF set

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Portal – Seepia review

June 20, 2008 at 10:41 pm (Reviews) (, , , )

Portal band photograph

The Australian Portal have a small and devout fanbase, but remain mostly obscure even within the already obscure realm of death metal. Even though Australia has an active metal scene, it’s difficult for bands to leave and tour due to travel expenses. Therefore, Portal have a relatively low chance of ever being a household name. After a hiatus, Portal have resumed playing gigs in Australia, but even now they remain (willfully?) in the shadows.

I remember the first time I heard this cd, I had received it in a shirt trade with the band’s old bassist Werm. What he sent was actually the remastered version, though on my first listen in my car I was instantly put off. Even with the best sound systems, the guitars sound scratchy and flat. Their other releases, including a more recent full length, Outre, retain this signature guitar sound. The drum sound on Seepia is what pushes the production from unique to frustrating. The bass drums are all but non-existent, and it sometimes feels more like a noise cd than death metal. I believe the band captured their best production on the Lurker at the Threshold EP, which has more powerful drums and a slightly more controlled sound. The easiest way for me to describe the effect of this CD is to compare it to the video game series Silent Hill. If you remember, those games always had a faint layer of static obscuring the horror, some fuzz blocking out the monsters. Sometimes what you can’t see, or hear in this case, is scarier than what you can.

The production is so strange and creepy it really hides the actual music. The guitars are generally just a wall of scratching, as though they have the gain on 10 and are just sliding their hands up and down the fretboard. This will continue for minutes until finally, like in “Tempus Fugit”, they stop palm muting and hit some chords. Even scarier is when they accurately tremolo pick individual notes at the song’s end. After so many riffs of just scratch and hiss, the isolated notes are jarring and attention grabbing. I haven’t ever paid much attention to the vocalist, who calls himself The Curator. This band’s music has no place for a Frank Mullen, so his indistinct and monotone vocals fit perfectly.

If you go to the band’s website, myspace, or flip through the liner notes, you’ll see that there are no faces to this music. They hide who they are and their appearances. The band wears garb that looks like a mesh between Steampunk and the Silent Hill monsters. I’m not one for theatrics ala Behemoth or Immortal, but in this case distancing themselves from this music was a great artistic choice. This album is definitely better when digested as art more than music for listening purposes. There’s no standout single, no riffs you’ll remember, or anything like that. Listening to Seepia is more akin to running through a series of shadowy rooms, catching glimpses of ghastly things here and there, but in the end you’ll emerge without any distinct memories. All you retain after Seepia is the sense that you stumbled into something that is horrifying and unsettling.

Note: I’ve included some digital pictures of the digipack version of this CD. I think it’s pretty hard to come by, and the layout is really cool. I didn’t photograph every page of the booklet, but this will give you a feel for the vibe the band creates. Click these for super hi-res photos (they’re a bit blurry, sorry).

Seepia frontThe booklet opened up
Seepia CD Open digipack


Portal myspace

Portal Official Website

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