Portrait is a metal band from the southern parts of Sweden, founded in 2006 by guitarist Christian Lindell and drummer Anders Persson. After playing together in different irrelevant extreme metal bands since they were about 12 years of age, and after in one of these constellations rehearsing a cover of the Running Wild classic “Black Demon”, the two came to the conclusion that what they really wanted to do was to play that same kind of timeless heavy metal, being the most elevated form of music there ever was.
The band name was stolen from a friend of Christian who some years earlier had talked about using it for his own band – a band that never came to exist.
Brimming with inspiration, songs were written at full speed and ideas about stage shows (many of which haven’t been possible to realize to this day) took form. The seemingly impossible task to find a singer was somewhat ignored after a while, but solved itself when the two heard their friend (and later also Baron of Sealand) Philip Svennefelt singing along to some Queen song (or was it Doris Day?) at a party, sounding so good amidst the noise of cracking whiskey bottles that it left no other choice but for Anders and Christian to invite Philip to try out some singing at the rehearsal place. It sounded great and it was decided that Philip would become a permanent member of the band.
At this point also guitarist David Stranderud had been a member for a while, but had not yet been around at the rehearsals. This changed soon enough and when the band had about 5 or 6 songs written and ready, also Richard Lagergren joined in on the bass. With this first full line-up the band recorded their first demo, “Welcome to my funeral”, in June 2006. This demo was first spread at the Headbangers Open Air festival that same summer, and later printed in cassette format. The word spread through the underground and the 400 copies of the demo were soon sold out.
The first gig took place on September 29th 2006 in Kristianstad, Sweden, and it didn’t take long until offers from festivals and other promoters came along.
In 2007, Portrait hit the stages at both the Sweden Rock Festival and Keep it true festival. During the spring that year the German label New Iron Age (later Iron Kodex Records) released the band’s first 7” single, “Into the Nothingness” and the same label later released a compilation album with only Swedish and German bands, including the Portrait song “Beware the demons”. This collaboration led to a contract for the band’s debut LP, set for release in the beginning of 2008. The album was recorded in singer Philip Svennefelt’s own Studio Misantropen during December 2007. Internal arguments during these sessions led to some switching in the line-up, and it came so to pass that David Stranderud took over the bass duties and Richard Lagergren took position as guitarist.
The self-titled album was released on the 3rd of April 2008 and a release party was held at the Keep it true festival that same year. The album was well-received by both the music press and the fans. Some gigging took place yet again of course, but during the summer Philip had to leave the band due to internal arguments. By this time two shows in Finland were already booked for the autumn, in Tampere and Helsinki, and as the band had not yet found a new singer Philip offered to do these last two shows with the band, which he did. At the show in Helsinki in October he made his last show with the band, handing over the microphone to Hannu Leiden of the mighty Sarcofagus as the band finished the show off with the mentioned legend and his bandmate and guitar virtuoso Kimmo Kuusniemi as guests on stage, performing a much appreciated version of the Sarcofagus song “Astral Flyer”.
For some time prior to those era-ending shows, the band got in contact with mr Frank Knight (X-Wild etc.) and it was for a while almost decided that he should become a member of the band and he actually sent some ideas for songs (lyrics, mostly…), but as it was not really what the band was looking for, the search had to continue. A friend of the band suggested the singer Per Lengstedt (formerly Karlsson) of the old Swedish band Overdrive, having the necessary vocal skills and also living close enough to the band’s hometown and rehearsal place. He was asked and replied that he was interested in trying out, and it was decided that he should put focus on three songs, learn them and then on a specific date some weeks later come to the rehearsal place to meet the band and sing those songs. The rest of the band was very impressed by his skills and instead of just the three songs decided on forehand he had learned the entire first album, and then some. This was indeed a blessing for the band and new greater goals could be set.
On the day before New Year’s Eve 2008 Per made his first performance with the band, in Copenhagen. One month later the band hit the road together with Enforcer for a two week tour throughout Europe, ending with a majestic show at the Up the Hammers Festival in Athens, Greece.
Internal arguments followed and David Stranderud left the band. He was replaced by Erik Jansson who made his first shows with the band during the spring and some festivals in the summer. At this time the work of the second album had already started, but as the band felt that a new release was needed quite fast, with the new line-up and everything, it was decided to release a new 7” single to start with. This resulted in the “The murder of all things righteous” 7” on High Roller Records. This release reached the offices of Metal Blade Records who contacted the band with a contract offer, which was discussed and later also signed. Erik Jansson’s time in the band ended already in late 2009 as he did not really have enough time to put effort in the band, and he was replaced by Joel Pälvärinne.
After some shows and a lot of rehearsing in 2010 the band was ready to enter the studio again, and this time around the Necromorbus Studio in Stockholm became the one of choice. “Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae” was thus put on tape and released in 2011, followed up by some festival shows during the summer. This album showed a much more thought through structure and in many ways showed the development of both song writing skills and musicianship in the band, and received rave reviews all around this accursed world, among other things entering the second place in German magazine Rock Hard’s chart, only topped by the then newly released Journey album…
Then it came so to pass that internal arguments appeared, and Joel Pälvärinne left the band.
Joel was replaced by David Olofsson.
A few select shows were done during the autumn and a tour as support act to Evile followed, that for many reasons had to include session members Patrick Dagland and Niklas Svensson (to whom the band will always be grateful ). This was the longest tour so far for the band, and the first one in a nightliner.
After this (we’re talking spring time 2012 here) the former line-up was back together again and played the Keep it true festival, the Rock Hard festival among other places during the summer, and the last gig in 2012 took place on the Sweden Rock Cruise in October. Prior to, and after that show, it came so to pass that internal arguments appeared and Richard Lagergren had to leave the band.
As David is first and foremost a talented guitar player, it was decided that he would take over the guitar and that the band should find a new bassist instead, resulting in Cab Castervall, formerly in Swedish thrash gods Hypnosia.
Since the first rehearsal with this line-up things have been very different, in a most positive way. This is for example shown in the mere fact that this Portrait line-up is the one that has lasted for the longest time so far. The latest album “Crossroads” was written and recorded between November 2012 and November 2013, mixed and mastered at Necromorbus Studio and released on April 29th 2014 by Metal Blade Records. The release of the album was celebrated with a show at Skansen Kronan (an old fortress in Gothenburg, Sweden). A CD single entitled “We were not alone” was also released together with Sweden Rock Magazine #4 (2014) and includes apart from the title track also “In Time” (taken from “Crossroads”) and a cover version of the unreleased Judas Priest song “Mother Sun” . The issue of the magazine including the CD is available for purchase for 12 EUR (including shipping) via this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the summer of 2014 the band has been busy playing festival shows. More concerts will follow during the autumn (see Concerts section), and a longer tour is in the planning and should be announced soon.