Kneading together elements of blackened death metal, screamo, and post-hardcore, Portrayal Of Guilt blister through a bleak soundscape. Finding their sound somewhere between Converge and Botch, Portrayal of Guilt quickly gained traction for their chaotic sound interjected with bursts of eerie melody. Shortly after its release, the Austin-based quartet’s self-titled 7″ through Contrition Recordings and Miss The Stars Records sold out, receiving positive feedback from CLRVYNT , No Clean Singing, and Heavy Blog Is Heavy. Upon the second pressing, Deathwish Inc. released an exclusive variant, which also sold quickly.
Portrayal of Guilt’s fast success ties to their masterful songwriting and pummeling performances, but also has roots in their undeniable work ethic. The band played frequently from their beginning, landing spots on shows with such powerhouse bands as Majority Rule, Pg. 99, Touché Amoré, and Street Sects. Their artwork and photography embody their exacting vision. Their presence throughout the web showcases their ambition. Portrayal of Guilt is a finely-oiled machine billowing clouds of blackened screamo as they barrel forward.
Showing no signs of stopping, Portrayal Of Guilt leave for a fall tour spanning the east coast and Canada on October 29th. Before their twenty-two day excursion, I talked to Matt King (guitar/vocals) about art, aggressive music’s therapeutic qualities, and the odd ubiquitousness of Yerba Mate in the Austin DIY scene.
KM: Complimenting Portrayal of Guilt’s sound, your lyrics explore some misanthropic themes — something that can be all too relatable, lately. Where do the ideas behind your lyrics originate?
MK: My depression has a lot to do with the negativity, but our country’s current political climate doesn’t help. Injustices are more blatant than they’ve ever been and morality seems to be headed out the door. There’s a lot to be angry about right now… and rightfully so.
KM: Would you say that performing these songs provides a sort of catharsis?
MK: This music is therapeutic for me. If not for music, I’m not sure where I would turn in the face of depression. I suppose I’d channel those feelings into another creative outlet. Some of the most meaningful art in the world was created in this state of mind, and I feel like I’ll always relate to that.
KM: From show flyers to your photo book True Emptiness, you’re very impressive in your other creative outlets. How often do you design for Portrayal of Guilt, and has your vision as an artist/photographer in any way shaped your approach to music?
MK: I designed the first couple of images for the band and I handle the majority of our flyers, but I prefer working with artists whose work I personally enjoy. I think everything I take interest in—whether it be music, art, or photography—stems from the same place, so I can’t say any one thing shapes my approach to another.
KM: It makes sense that expressing yourself creatively relieves tension in its own right, but what happens when you add the people experiencing your work to the equation? How much does connecting with people play part in the restorative experience of your music?
MK: We started the band with the mindset that we were going to do whatever we wanted to do. Not having to answer to anyone but ourselves and being able to experience growth firsthand is very meaningful and motivating. So far, people have been so nice and accepting of us. I appreciate every single person I’m able to speak with at any show. It all continues to be a learning experience.
KM: Before Portrayal of Guilt’s upcoming East Coast/Canada tour, you went on a summer tour through the US and made a series of weekend sprints with bands like Majority Rule and Bleach Everything. What motivates you on the road, and what artists do you feel you’ve connected with?
MK: When you enjoy what you’re doing, there’s no problem staying motivated. James and I recently drove over thirty hours from Austin to Brooklyn to play a show with Pg.99 & Majority Rule. That was probably the best experience we’ve had as a band, thus far.
Bands like Pg.99 and Majority Rule seem to have a similar mindset to that of our own—doing things from the heart and for the right reasons. I respect and appreciate those bands a lot. We also recently played a few shows with Bleach Everything, whose vocalist runs Magic Bullet Records—another artist and label that I have deep respect for. It’s people like that who I’d like to continue to work with and learn from.
KM: When Portrayal of Guilt played Barracuda with Bleach Everything, you made a unique request. You said you’d exchange a spot on the guest list for a revel berry Yerba Mate. I’ve never had one, myself, but the drink seems popular in the Austin DIY scene. Is the drink just undeniably good, or is there some kind of culture that’s grown around those tall, yellow cans?
MK: I remember when I hadn’t tried one, yet. That was a weird time in my life. I know it was pretty popular around here a few years ago, but I was late to that party. I enjoy it, though. It’s my alternative to other, much less healthy energy drinks. I even sent an e-mail to Guayakí trying to work with them in some aspect.
KM: Would you say that your offer to exchange Yerba Mate for a guest list spot stands in perpetuity?
MK: My offer stands.
KM: With the first pressing of the self-titled EP sold out and the second on its way to the same, folks must be chomping at the bit for more Portrayal of Guilt. Can we expect a full length in the near future?
MK: When we return from our tour, our main focus will be on recording the full-length. I don’t want to spoil anything, so keep tabs on us if you’re interested in what we’re doing. We wholeheartedly appreciate any and all support.
Catch Portrayal of Guilt at these following tour dates:
OCT 29 – San Antonio, TX @ The Korova
NOV 1 – Birmingham, AL @ The Firehouse*
NOV 2 – Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern*
NOV 3 – Asheville, NC @ Static Age Records
NOV 4 – Boone, NC @ Reckless Arts
NOV 5 – Richmond, VA @ House Show
NOV 6 – Washington D.C. @ DC9
NOV 7 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Safari Room at El Cortez
NOV 8 – New Brunswick, NJ @ Anarchtica
NOV 9 – West Haven, CT @ Crunch House~
NOV 10 – Manchester, NH @ Blackheart Sound
NOV 11 – Quebec City, QC @ l’Unisson^
NOV 12 – Montreal, QC @ Geist House^
NOV 13 – Toronto, ON @ D-Beatstro^
NOV 14 – Buffalo, NY @ Electric Avenue
NOV 15 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rock Room
NOV 16 – Elyria, OH @ Blank Slate
NOV 17 – Lexington, KY @ Rain Damage
NOV 18 – Kansas City, MO @ Revolution Records
NOV 19 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Warehouse B
NOV 20 – Denton, TX @ Killer’s Tacos
NOV 21 – Austin, TX @ Sidewinder