Review: Portrayal of Guilt – Let Pain Be Your Guide (Gilead, Nov 16)

Somehow, armed with only a three track 7″ and a handful of singles, Portrayal of Guilt managed to make me anticipate their debut LP more than most upcoming releases this year. In my opinion, this is an album release done right; the only musical promotion for Let Pain Be Your Guide was a split single with Street Sects (“The Nihilist”) and the lathe picture disc “Chamber of Misery (Pt. I),” neither of which actually appeared on the record. Though I personally never listen to promotional singles anyway, it was a great feeling to go into the album with so much uncertainty about what it would sound like. That uncertainty doesn’t last long, though; Let Pain Be Your Guide starts strong with the vicious opus “Daymare,” the LP’s longest track and possibly the band’s most ambitious music to date. The vocals mine new territory with the low growls, accentuating the darker atmosphere and doom riffs with misanthropic fury. Industrial electronic textures that first appeared on “The Nihilist” are taken even further, adding to the already evocative songwriting; the outro of “Your War” with its noise contortions and pained gurgles is indescribably menacing, even alien. “Until We’re Dust” is a fittingly action-packed conclusion, thankfully subverting the tired cliche of an overlong sludge coda in favor of a driving build-up that culminates in the album’s most anthemic chorus. Really, my only complaint about Let Pain Be Your Guide is that it’s too short; and as far as problems go, that’s far from the worst one to have.