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Finland at its filthiest - 93%

UncleMeat, June 7th, 2009

After Purtenance Avulsion released their demo in 1991, they changed their name by dropping the ‘Avulsion’. With this name change came their first official release, the ‘Crown Waits the Immortal’ 7” on Drowned Productions. This EP was a clear indicator that Purtenance intended on keeping the vile nature of their demo intact while making refinements at the same time. This bumped them up even higher on the list of best current death metal bands (well, back from when it was good, at least). A short while later, Purtenance released their magnum opus, the ‘Member of Immortal Damnation’ LP, ranking them up there with Rippikoulu, Depravity, Demigod, and other classic Finnish bands. This album is a perfect, and I mean perfect, example of the preeminence and mastery that bands from this country were achieving at the time.

The production does wonders for the band, as not only does it enhance the filthiness that was already put in place by the music, but it also highlights every instrument, giving each one a proper place in the mix so nothing has an overpowering effect. The vocals aren’t extremely upfront in the mix like a lot of death metal albums. They are somewhat buried, and blend in with the barrage of darkness flawlessly. This kind of gives the same effect that the vocal mix gives Molested’s ‘Blod Draum’ LP in that it becomes another instrument rather then a dominating everything that’s going on (but of course stylistically the two sound nothing alike). The guitar and bass have a pretty equal balance, and both are playing with some extremely hideous tones. The drums are also given their fair share of space in the mix, and are prominent enough to keep the bus moving forward but not to the point where drown out anything else going on.

After things get started off with an intro comprised of a heavily reverberated guitar lead, the bludgeoning begins with the crushing doom-laden opening riffs of “Black Vision”. This element of doom metal keeps appearing throughout the album, but not quite frequently enough to deem this death/doom. These morbid, sludgy sections work as the perfect contrast with the mid-paced sections as well as the faster, blasting sections, which keeps things moving along at a nice enough pace to pull the listener in and not let go. Now of course this is certainly nothing new, as lots of bands from Finland at the time were doing the same thing, but like the previous reviewer mentioned, there weren’t too many doing it quite as well as the mighty Purtenance.

The vocalist, Timo, has a good, powerful growl that you can tell comes from the deepest part of his gut, and maybe picks up some of the shards of glass this guy eats with his cereal every morning. It stays in the mid-lower range, sitting somewhere between Swden’s Crematory and Carnage. The riffing, as I said, alternates between doom-laden devastation and grinding death frenzies, always staying on the low-end of the fretboard and tuning down to somewhere near A or B. The leads are actually more melodic and coherent then you would expect from a lot of other bands, especially during the slow sections. However, sometimes, where the pace picks up and a solo comes in, then it might resort to whammy-abusing atonality, which is never really a bad thing, but it’s just refreshing to hear a band who can fuse melody with sinister evilness as well as these maniacal death metal masters. The guitar tone and bass tone mesh perfectly, as both have equal amounts of filth and putridity caked on top of them, creating a huge wall of towering decay. The drummer is pretty efficient, never missing a beat but never overdoing it with excessive fills and overbearing double bass when it’s not necessary. He also knows how to use the bell of the ride cymbal really effectively, and it doesn’t sound like he just hits it accidentally when beating the shit out of his skins with blastbeats.

This is an excellent piece of old-school Finnish death metal at its finest. I would recommend downloading it first and waiting until The Crypt does the double-LP reissue, which will contain the demo and 7” on one slab and this masterpiece on the other. That is unless of course you are okay with paying a pretty penny for an original pressing, but even then, good luck finding a copy.