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For almost two decades, Sweden’s PORTRAIT has delivered their brand of heavy metal darkness to the masses. Following 2021′s critically acclaimed At One With None, the band returns with their sixth album The Host, their first ever concept album, set for release on June 21st through Metal Blade Records.

Founding guitarist Christian Lindell describes the new offering as “an occult tale of sword and sorcery, accompanied by some of the most passionate heavy metal ever recorded. The story takes place in seventeenth century Sweden and revolves around an unnamed protagonist who, because of his experiences with the injustice and hypocrisy of this world, decides to seek truth and strength through its ‘Adversary.’

Although partly inspired by historic events, the story should not be mistaken for a history lesson. “No, definitely not. There do exist court documents from that era in which people who were forced to join the army stood accused of having made pacts with the Devil, asking for luck, strength in battle and so on. That is what inspired us to place the story in that particular setting. I just caught that ball — or Baal — and ran away with it. That being said, it is no fantasy tale either, and the ‘sword and sorcery’ part will be understood by everyone reading the lyrics.

On the musical side, PORTRAIT‘s co-founding drummer Anders Persson adds that the album “is a versatile entity, showing all sides of what has become our own style of heavy metal, identity, and sense of melody, yet with some new areas explored in several directions. There are songs that are our fastest and most ‘extreme’ so far along with songs of an almost semi ballad feeling. It blends perfectly together musically and fits the dramaturgy of the story. There are songs that will make you cry and songs that will make you shit your pants.

As a precursor to the record’s release, today the band unsheathes their first single, “The Blood Covenant.” It is on this track that the soldier at midnight on Midsummer’s eve enters a pact with the Devil, asking for strength in battle and future abundance in exchange for the sacrament, which is to be stolen from church.

Elaborates Lindell, “This is the opening track of the album, in which the story’s main character enters an unbreakable pact and sets foot upon a path of no return. Musically, this is one of the fastest songs on the album and a straight-forward true PORTRAIT banger.



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