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While a lot of blood and sweat has been put into trying to revive the sound of heavy metal's primordial period, metal classicists Portrait are a band taking a different approach. On Crossroads, the third album from the Swedish outfit, the band skips past the era of stoner blues and thick fuzz to the leather-clad age of the new wave of British heavy metal. Evoking pioneering titans like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, the band's sound harkens back to a time when drums were galloping, solos were ripping, and soaring falsetto vocals reigned supreme. Listening to the songs here, it's clear that this isn't a joke for these guys. Without a drop of irony, the band take listeners on an epic, old-school metal journey with songs like "At the Ghost Gate" and "Ageless Rights." While these songs will certainly make metal fans nostalgic for a bygone era, Crossroads is solid enough on its own that you don't need to have a studded leather jacket and a bullet belt hidden away somewhere to enjoy it. With its brilliant combination of drive and drama, this kind of metal is easy to get swept up in, and the fact that Portrait rock these songs out with the vigor and passion of their metal forefathers makes it easy to get on board with what the band is trying to do. When talking about bands like this, it's easy to call them revivalists, but given Portrait's earnest execution and attention to detail (right down to the occultish, cross-laden cover art), Crossroads makes it clear that, for these guys, that era never really ended in the first place.

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