Portait from Sweden are one of the hottest new bands around. Founded in 2004, they released a demo called "Welcome to my Funeral" in 2006, followed by a 7" single with the name of "Into the Nothingness" a year later (both are already collector's items). Sweden Rock, the biggest mainstream rock magazine of the country, voted Portrait as the best unsigned band of 2007. "That was great", says guitarist Christian Lindell. "We received an ace review of our demo in the same magazine as well, and we also got the chance to play at the 'Sweden Rock' festival which was great." As a result, Portrait were very much in demand and played at the German "Keep It True" festival also. Christian Lindell remembers: "It was awesome. It is definitely the most respectable festival there is. We were confirmed for the festival about a year in advance, but we didn't get to tell anyone about it because the billing was going to be announced at the spring edition of the festival, as usual. It was hard not to brag about it earlier I tell you that ..." After this superb gig, Portrait were going from strength to strength, leading to an album deal with High Roller Records. Isn't the band surprised about the huge level of success so early in their musical career? "Yes, we are a bit surprised to tell you the truth", says Christian Lindell. "Personally, my highest goal from the start was to get to play abroad, in front of headbangers who really dig the bands' music, pound their fists and raise hell with us. This, and much more, has been achieved already. We got booked to play the 'Keep It True' festival after only having a demo tape out. Wouldn't even dare to dream about that when we started. To be honest, I still don't believe it ..."
Signing to High Roller Records, Portrait have taken the next logical step in their career. Is Christian satisfied with the way their self-titled album (strictly limited to 666 copies) has turned out ? "We are very satisfied with it, much more so than with our earlier releases", is his prompt answer. "Everything has improved. There's more spitfire and razorsharp-ness to it than before. More professional without being wimpy in any way." A lot of their fans love Portrait for being close in sound to Mercyful Fate, how much of an ifluence was Fate? "They are one of many really", finds Christian. "They were fucking GODLY in every possible way of course, but they are not the main reason for us starting the band or anything like that. Personally, I don't think we sound much like them either. If anyone would hear an instrumental recording of ours I don't think that he or she would have thought of Mercyful Fate being our main inspiration. I agree that Philip's voice is similar to King's sometimes, but Mercyful Fate was so much more than just a voice." The hometown of Portrait is called Kristianstad and Christian has no good things to tell about Portrait's base: "We are the only traditional metal band from Kristianstad. There doesn't really exist a 'scene' as far as I know, and Kristianstad is like most places on earth - nothing but a big bad joke." It is not Heavy Load, not Mercy, not Overdrive and not Nemesis/Candlemass Christian cites as the most important band of his home country: "I'd say it is Bathory. No one but Quorthon has ever succeeded in coming up with those damned riffs. Their influence on the metal scene as a whole is undeniable, both musically and image-wise (or 'ideology-wise' as I believe is the right term nowadays). They certainly took it all one step further in every way."
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)