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PURTENANCE... My first thought about this band is "oh, it's that Finnish band where the guitarist had the worst haircut in the history of death metal" he he. Funny, but just check the picture on the layout for "Member of Immortal Damnation" LP! Ain't that mate, Tony, looking hilariously? But serious stuff now. Purtenance was also one of the best Finnish death metal acts in the early 90's, no doubt about that. Despite their short lived history, they managed to unleash really cool EP and LP. They never really got much attention, as the band split up already in 1992 and as far as I know none of its members played in other bands afterwards, so for many reasons Purtenance is almost forgotten. Almost, as there are diehard old school fans, who pay unbelievable money for the first pressing of CD or LP of the mentioned "Member of Immortal Damnation" album. The Crypt Productions has re-released that full length on the ultra limited vinyl adding the demo and EP as bonus... and man, there were 300 copies pressed only, what makes this item as ultra rare and special as the first pressing. I'm lucky to own a copy of "MCMXCI - MCMXCII", as that's how they've titled it... and it's one of the most precious items in my collection.
The Crypt always shred with the layout and content of their vinyls. This time they also have done something special. The double LP comes in the folder with golden prints on it (with liner notes by Harri Salo, drummer of Purtenance) and each LP has its own cover and booklet. LP 1 has the "Purtenance Avulsion - Demo 1991" on Side A and "Crown Waits the Immortal - EP 1991" on Side B. The LP comes with a 2 sided insert with classic photos and lyrics as well as original artwork for both covers on the 350 gram heavyweight jacket. LP 2 is the "Member of Immortal Damnation" album. 350 gram heavyweight jacket is complete with the original classic, newly supplied, unaltered artwork by Chris Moyen. The LP includes a double-sided lyric insert with the original layout from the 1992 LP, full color art-print style, 12" x 18" poster. And all that in just 300 copies, can it be any better idea than that?? Oh, did I mention it also has logo sticker, patch and a colour button??
Side A is occupied by the "Demo 1", by Purtenance Avulsion, as this is how they've been called in 1991. I must be honest with you and say that this demo material isn't anything special. Four songs that got there are very typical for the demo stage death metal bands from that time and so quality and sound are very underground, primitive and raw, with hardly hearable riffs or whatever... But such recordings have their own charm and sometimes I tend to listen to such old demos for the whole day. Purtenance Avulsion's demo wasn't as good as those by Abhorrence, Amorphis, Demilich, Funebre or Disgrace, but I think it's cool to have it on LP and definitely it's an important recording in Purtenance history, so the demo deserves its place on the compilation. And such songs like "Inside the Crematory" and "Cannibal Souls", despite their primitiveness still sound damn brutal nowadays!
Side B is something many of you will get wet while thinking about, as "Crown Waits the Immortal" is one of those seven inches, which are very wanted by the collectors. The EP was recorded in 1991 by the Stratovarious guitarist, Tomi Talkki and that's the first interesting thing about the EP. Music wise it's just much, much better than "Demo 1". Purtenance developed their style a bit, into slightly more technical and the song structures are simply more interesting and thought about... Finally the production is good, at least for the EP standards of that time. The first song, "Apparition of the Mist", is something I fuckin love. It's basically slow instrumental piece, but the doomy riffs in it are so damn cool and heavy that I would love to hear them as a proper song. "A Dark Cloud Arises" is one damn brutal track! Occasional slow riffs are mixed with grinding parts, so in the end it's a song that will please fans of Demigod or even Suffocation totally. "Crown Waits the Immortal", the title song is very similar, massacring with massive wall of riffs and brutal vocals. I think the childish front cover is the weakest point of that legendary EP.
The second LP is the main dish of this death metal feast - "Member of Immortal Damnation". Cult album nowadays, definitely I can say so, even though I doubt there are that many fans, who remember or even heard it before. The band didn't get the recognition many Finnish or Swedish acts had. But I must say this for many reasons LP can't rival the best death metal albums of the old era. In my opinion it's not as great and devastating as "Left Hand Path", "The Karelian Isthmus" and so many other LPs. It's not as melodic, not so catchy, not even that aggressive and well recorded... I think that Purtenance was pretty much mediocre band and "Member of Immortal Damnation" was also like that, but years after its recording, it gets more and more charm and that rotten smell surrounding it isn't so pushing away anymore. There are many fantastic riffs on the album. The opening theme in "Black Visions" is just supreme doomy melodic death metal. "Deep Blue Darkness" is another fantastic song and if you're not only into the Finish bands, but also worship Incantation or even Autopsy or Swedish Crematory, then this is for you!!!! The songs are very much all on the same quality level. Purtenance tries to keep the balance between grinding fast parts and morbid slow playing and mostly they manage to do that well, so in the end we get a solid, brutal death metal.
If there's anything more I can say about Purtenance, it's a shame they never went any further with this LP and split up so early. I would really want to see how their future would sound like... Of course, if you look at most of their Finnish companions, basically all of them either split up at that time or went into completely different musical territories on their second albums. Bands like Convulse, Amorphis changed the style but did it quite well, Funebre and Demilich split up, but just look at say... Disgrace, Xysma... Eh, I hope Purtenance wouldn't follow their path. I can only guess now. But "MCMXCI - MCMXCII" is worthy compilation. If you ever have a chance to buy it, sell your kidney, but buy it!