In the heyday of the original wave of death metal, bands hailing from Stockholm, Sweden and Tampa, Florida were (and still are) the heavyweights of the genre. Absorbing the very modest commercial potential potential of death metal as well as dominating the very small amount of media attention available, these bands condemned scores of equally talented bands to toil in obscurity. Finland in particular had a tendency to produce quality death metal. From a scene nearly as prolific as that of neighboring Sweden, not one band ever received acclaim on the level of Morbid Angel and Entombed; the hidden gems of Finnish death metal have largely been the domain of obsessive die-hards.
One such gem is Purtenance; formed in 1990 as Purtenance Avulsion, they Shortened their name in '92 for the release of their first and only full length release, Member of Immortal Damnation. Featuring artwork by Chris Moyen of Blasphemy/Beherit/Archgoat Fame, an unusual full color death metal piece in the portfolio of an artist whose work is 99% black and white black metal art, Member of Immortal Damnation embodies the crawling, doom inflected approach that was the Finnish regional sound in the early 90's. I once heard Purtenance described as the Finnish Incantation, and while I don't think that's strictly true I can see where the comparison comes from. They're not really as suffocatingly cavernous production wise or structurally abstract but the eerie doominess and tremolo riffing are there. The overall sound is closest to Demigod and Convulse.
The album opens with an unsettling instrumental intro, and then a tolling bell segways into the first vicious track, Black Vision. This is one of the highlights of the album, evenly mincing slow doom riffs under deathly leads with tremolo picked blasbeat sections. The rest of the album has the same kind of flavor, but stays thoroughly entertaining throughout. The atmosphere is great, partially due to the fantastic production; old school Finnish production I have noticed, doesn't have the crushing American Morrisound feel to it or what we at Witching Metal like to call the Swedish "TURN THE HM-2 TO 10 GO FOR THE FUCKING THROAT D BEAT D BEAT D BEAT UUUUUUUUUGH". It's somewhere in between, not as clean as American production but not as bent on overkill as the Sunlight Studios sound. The drums and vocals are what you would expect, not really anything exemplary but they do EXACTLY what they're supposed to do and allow the riffs to do the heavy lifting. The bass, sadly but unsurprisingly, is mostly inaudible.
The bottom line is, if you already like old school Finnish death or are newer to the genre and want to hear something that doesn't sound like Entombed, Obituary, Grave, or Deicide, get ahold of this fucker by any means possible.