Incarnations of Purtenance

PURTENANCE: Buried Incarnation

Release year: 2020
Label: Xtreem Music

Finnish Purtenance are without doubt part of the legends of original Finnish death metal. Formed in 1991, they released their classic debut Member Of Immortal Damnation the following year and, like so many other bands of the time, faded away. It took 20 years until the world heard more from Purtenance: their comeback EP Sacrifice The King was released in 2012, but since then the band has pushed out releases quite steadily. And, happily, kept up a respectable level of quality.

Even so, it seems to me that Purtenance are often somewhat overlooked when talking about Finnish death metal. Whilst the merits of the debut are acknowledged, otherwise it seems Purtenance falls into the shadows of the likes of Convulse, Demigod, Abhorrence and a slew of others – which is unfair, especially when looking at the latter day activities of these bands. Frankly put, Purtenance’s latter day output is both better and more true to the original sound than that of many colleagues.

Buried Incarnation, then, is Purtenance’s fourth full-length album and third album after reforming. It offers nine tracks and 40 minutes of solid old school Finnish death metal. You’re not in for any surprises here, but that’s part of what endears me to latter day Purtenance: they know what they’re good at, they know what people expect of them, and they deliver. Where Convulse, to mention one name, have post-reforming strayed from old school death metal to far more progressive tracks, Purtenance stubbornly continues down the chosen path without too many sidelines. And when the results are far from disappointing, I cannot help but approve.

So yeah. Guttural growls (courtesy of new vocalist Aabeg Gautam), mainly mid-tempo songs, heavy riffs, the occasional melancholy guitar melody, the occasional blast of speed. You know the drill, this is pure and unadulterated old school Finnish death metal. Nothing more, nothing less: no new paths are trod, no new perspectives shown, no trails are blazed. And there’s no need for that.

Still. I have to admit, that after the rather brilliant Paradox Of Existence mini-CD from 2017, I was expecting a bit more. That one was fierce, and in comparison Buried Incarnation sounds a bit tame. I’ve listened to this album many, many times trying to figure out what it is that rubs me the wrong way, and this is my conclusion: the sound. Where Paradox Of Existence had an aggressive and heavy sound, Buried Incarnation sounds tamer and thinner. The guitars fall in the shadow of the vocals, the rhythm guitars are sometimes reduced to a background buzz, and the drum sound could certainly be fuller.

It’s a damn shame, because as far as songwriting and performance go, I’ve no gripes with Buried Incarnation. It’s solid if a bit predictable, and offers value for money if not any future classics. The flat sound doesn’t ruin the album, but I do feel that with a heavier sound Buried Incarnation would have risen to the next level.

Ultimately, Buried Incarnation is a fine album, one that doesn’t cast shame on Purtenance’s solid if not absolutely illustrious discography. Purtenance is like a reliable workhorse, guaranteed to get the job done and deliver what’s needed, but not one to push the envelope of the genre. And, as already said, that’s fine. There’s always room for a band like Purtenance who you can rely on to deliver that old school sound. As such, Buried Incarnation is by and large another fitting entry into a discography of solid and stylewise rather consistent old school death metal.

Shame about the sound, though.


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