Three years after their debut Let Pain Be Your Guide which grasped the attention many heavy music critics, Portrayal of Guilt have started 2021 in the best way possible with the release of We Are Always Alone. While their debut was nothing short of a vicious and enthralling soundtrack, We Are Always Alone takes all the accomplished material the band had threaded on and amps it all up to an unprecedented scale. Process of Guilt are Matt King on guitar and vocals, Blake Given on bass, and James Beveridge of drums.
One thing that can be noticed right on the opening track ‘The Second Coming’ is that for a trio, PoG manage to provide a sound unexpectedly massive and abrasive. This comes as no surprise, however, if we consider the band’s consistency at playing fast tempos and complex rhythmic sections, the heavy and oppressive tone of the strings, the demonic and oftentimes unnerving vocal performance, and the technically remarkable drum work.
As the name clearly suggests, loneliness is a predominant motif in We Are Always Alone. Rather than a reassuring assessment about a sentiment many of us are currently going through, the present work strives as a declaration of hopelessness, a depiction of the ever-returning isolation of everyday life. King’s desolate vocal delivery, juxtaposed with the nihilistic tone of the record, translate into a lyrical approach that is not just unsettling, but downright surreal and at times beautifully devastating.
While the album does not necessarily come forth with never-before-heard concepts and designs all that frequently, where it is truly captivating is in its unpredictability. Even if passages on the album are resemblant of things you’ve heard before, it’s highly likely that you haven’t heard them in the way PoG have rearranged in this record. The boundaries of every genre here embraced (namely hardcore, black metal and grindcore, just to name a few) start to lose their contours as they are experimented with and ultimately tied together in exquisite fashion. As a whole, the album still feels very cohesive and structurally sound, but flashes its edge through the uncomfortable and unexpected journey it sets the listener up to. Even then, it’s a journey you can’t really get away from.
Take ‘Masochistic Oath’, for instance. The track cycles through an eerie introduction followed by a sudden ravage of blast beats and black metal-resembling riffage, then progressing into a skank beat-driven segue – all in but a few seconds. Similarly, ‘Anesthetized’ not only provides clever transitions between segments but features some of Beveridge’s finest chops in the album. Even the more straightforward track ‘My Immolation’, which starts out chaotic and eventually develops into a more submissive passage, manages to keep things interesting in its own terms.
We Are Always Alone is decidedly not an album for the faint-of-heart. And while it is certainly not the most earth-shattering record you’ll ever hear, it exceeds in its ability to voice isolation and the futility of hope through whatever lyrical and musical devices PoG dispose of. For that alone, it is without question worth the listen.