SOMETIMES there is no need to rationalise anything - it's just metal, and it's glorious. When Portrait played the Voodoo in Belfast on February 3rd there was even less need, as the Swedish act were backed by two of Northern Ireland's finest.
Opening up were Terminus, whose sci-fi inspired metal rocks like a bastard on all the best drugs - Centaurean stands out amidst a metal blur of righteous noise.
Rabid Bitch of the North have been getting better and better over the past 18 months and when they took to the stage that improvement was evident. What's more they have the songs to back up their improvement.
From 'Your Misery' opening the set, through to closer 'Us Against Them' they epitomise what metal is about - power and passion. The faultless 'Trapped in 1999' is the anthem many bands wish they had written as Joe's vocals reach a register that is so high the dogs in the street begin howling along with it.
Nevertheless what they played was pure, classic metal. The twin guitar attack of Christian Lindell and David Olofsson works throughout the set with serious intent and interaction. There is a definite homage to Judas Priest in their work.
But many bands deliver this type of shredding and melody without reaching the sublime soulful quality.
It is vocalist Per Lengstedt's presence that brings the additional factor that separates Portrait from many pretenders - not to mention a drum and bass combo that simply overpowers the audience.
Portait have so many strings to their classic metal sound that more people should turned out for this; and Portait could have played a longer set.
Having said that what they did display was a set of excellence; a set that encompassed what is great about this thing we call metal. Given that they derive their name from King Diamond's début album we'd expect no less!
Review and pix by Darren McVeigh - MetalplanetBelfast