Swedish heavy metal maniacs Portrait are unleashing their latest album Burn The World soon. We had a chat with guitarist Christian Lindell to talk about the album, live dates, influences and heavy metal in general.
Your new album Burn The World is out soon, can you tell us a bit about the album and its creation?
We have put everything into its creation and to me the result shows a good development where we have taken all aspects of Portrait’s music further than before. There are parts that are more aggressive than what we have done before and also parts that are more melodic, yet with that desired red line throughout the whole album creating a good dynamic feeling.
How did the recording of the album go?
It went smooth. Some technical issues and so on in the beginning as is usual, but as the result shows it was all worth it in the end.
The albums intro Saturn Return certainly sets the tone for the album that follows. Did you always want to start a Burn The World off like that?
The intro is written by Kevin Bower from British band Hell. He does all keyboard parts on the album and it was actually his own idea to write an intro for it, and of course we are very satisfied with it.
How did you hook up with Kevin for him to do the keyboards on the album?
We thought that it could add to the overall atmosphere with some keyboards and we had also talked to Kevin about it some years ago. So when we were done recording, we sent everything to Kevin and he did what he thought was fitting himself, and as he has good taste and amazing musical skills and it turned out great.
What are the songs on Burn The World all about?
They deal with spiritual matters. If people reading them are interested in the occult they will be able to figure out the different symbolism and expressions pointing towards the inspirational sources.
Can you tell us about the cover artwork for Burn The World and its significance?
It depicts the creator of this world and how I visualize him, blind and blinding in confusion trying to imprison all sparks of spirit caught within his creation. Below him stands a man that has seen through the illusions of this world and thus broken his chains of fate, in defiance walking another path than the one originally planned for him.
Set Teitan from Dissection and Watain guests on the album with three guitar solos. Did you have him in mind from the start to guest the album?
Yes, me and Set talked about it over two years ago and I am very glad about his contributions.
Who would you like to guest on a Portrait album in the future?
There is no one specific that I can think of right now. It is not about just having a guest with a “name”, the person must be able to add something that we ourselves can not do, musically as well as personally.
What were the main influences on the album?
The biggest part of the inspiration comes from within, but of course everything we like musically influence us in some way or the other, overtly or covertly. The musical inspiration have been pretty much the same since we first started. Judas Priest, Maiden, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Accept, Dio, Motörhead, Slayer, Nifelheim, Candlemass.
How did your show at Stockholm Slaughter back in April go?
It went great. It was our first gig with the current line-up and also at a festival with mostly black/death metal bands so it was a challenge, but we did really good and the response was fantastic.
Did you play much new material?
No, only one song, Mine To Reap.
Will you be touring in support of the album once it is released?
Yes, hopefully. Nothing is confirmed yet but we are working on it together with our booking agency.
Where are your favourite places in the world to play live and why?
I would say Germany and Finland, mostly because the audiences are so great there. Fanatic and wild in a way that you seldom see for example in Sweden, where people are more afraid of unleashing the beast.
How would you describe a live Portrait show to someone who had never seen you before?
I would describe it as a musical version of Rambo 4.
What has been the best tour that you have ever done and why?
We did a few gigs with Primordial after the last albu, Crossroads was released and those shows were really great. There we also had the chance to expand our fan base as their audience is a bit different than ours. Also everything was very well organized and we had good times both before, during and after the shows.
You have previously released a split EP with Ram. Who would you like to do a split with in the future?
You covered songs by Exciter as well as Ram in that split. If Portrait were going to do another cover song, what would you choose?
Hard to say, and it also depends if we are going to record it or just play it live. Lately I have felt like playing Flash Of The Blade By Iron Maiden live, I think we could do that song very well.
What bands got you into metal in the first place?
Metallica, Iron Maiden, Guns ‘n‘ Roses and Judas Priest. Most of the music I got into early on came from my older sisters record collection.
What do you think if the state of heavy metal at the moment?
I think there are some good releases every now and then. What I think is lacking is that bands have very little to say. The surface might be cool and music OK but without any deeper message or statement behind it all it most often leads to shit after a few releases. But the state of heavy metal sure is more stable than the state of the rest of the world.
What are your top three metal albums of all time?
Very hard to say, but Defenders Of The Faith, Seventh Son If A Seventh Son and Don’t Break The Oath are what came to my mind now at this moment.
What is the best metal show that you have ever seen live?
Judas Priest in the Baltic States some years ago. Great audience and the best band in the world performing. In general all the classic bands have been my concert favorites, like Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, Accept and so on.
Sweden has a storied metal history. What are your best memories of the bands early days and those of the Swedish metal scene?
I have many fond memories of our early days. The attitude overall in the metal scene was a bit different then and it has changed a lot since then, even if we started only eleven years ago. During later years the politicization has become more and more obvious, at least in Sweden, and there aren’t many headbangers here that I feel connected to. We did a tour with Enforcer in 2009 and that tour is among my best memories from the earlier days with the band.
What is the metal scene in Sweden like today?
When it comes to bands it is pretty much the same as it has always been, a very trendy country and a million bands popping up trying to do the same thing as others whenever there is a “new thing” in the metal scene. The same thing has happened over and over again ever since The Final Countdown was released and all swedish metal bands wanted to do something similar, then came the early death metal boom, then the Gothenburg melodic shit and during later years the “old school metal” trend. These waves always brings both good and bad though, some good bands come out of it and develop into something of their own while the vast majority ventures into oblivion.
What bands are you currently listening to and which bands would you recommend to us?
Right now I am listening to The Dahmers, a rock n roll band from our town. Very good stuff. Otherwise I listen to new releases from classic bands and I enjoy for example the latest Accept and Alice Cooper albums.