Released: 2007, Poko Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
It is not a new phenomenon that Speed/Thrash Metal bands that existed from the '80s to early '90s, and who got their shit released mostly on vinyl only, have lately got their old releases reissued in CD format, nearly 20 years later. Finland's speed merchants Prestige who recorded 3 full-length albums, one 12" EP and one very limited 7" EP during their whole career (unsurprisingly, these are almost impossible to find either in original CD or vinyl formats these days) are the latest band to have taken this path. Prestige, just like other Finnish Speed/Thrash names as Stone, Airdash, A.R.G., National Napalm Syndicate, Dethrone, Charged and a couple of others, were one of those luckiest ones who got a chance to ride on the back of the success of the Speed/Thrash Metal boom when it hit Finland back in the day. Unfortunately this died within a few years due to different musical trends winning more attention amongst the Finnish record companies, thus letting many new, potentially talented Speed/Thrash Metal bands wait in vain in the hope of getting signed.
Unlike f.ex. the Finnish speed merchants and thrash bangers Stone and Airdash that led the whole Speed/Thrash movement in Finland, Prestige never achieved the same success for themselves amongst the metalheads on Finnish soil that their aforementioned fellow countrymen enjoyed. In spite of that they still did have a pretty good following in Finland, and they got lots of gigs played both in Finland and on the other side of Finland's borders as well. That is some sort of background info for all of you curious and crazy metalheads, thirsting for more knowledge about Prestige.
Now, a sort of cultural thing has been accomplished again in the history of Finnish metal (thanks to Finland's Poko Records and Prestige); we - the metal fans, get a chance to enjoy Prestige's Speed/Thrash Metal havoc in CD format for a very long time (haven't seen original Prestige CDs around for a very long time either). And what's even better, we are offered a double-CD full of Prestige's material (36 songs in total) in a fancy looking digipack release that contains a very cool story about Prestige's entire history added with tons of pictures of the band from their early years. Not to forget Mikko Mattila's (of Isten Magazine fame!) humorously, but still professionally really very well-written liner notes either.
Prestige was never THAT seriously taken as a band when comparing them to other Finnish Speed/Thrash Metal acts that were thrashing and moshing around the best they could back in those days. They always managed to involve a slight punky/hardcore-ish edge into their songs - just like f.ex. Nuclear Assault did on GAME OVER (a song called "Hop 2.3.4" is Prestige's own "Hang the Pope"). The band even supported Nuclear Assault in Finland in 1989, so that should tell you at least something about their popularity in their home country, Finland.
Musically Prestige had a relatively - could I say, 'safe' Speed/Thrash Metal sound that was kind of typical for many bands at that time. It was pretty intense, straight-forward with many mosh type of parts - and yet it was sort of guaranteed to every Speed/Thrash Metal digger that they couldn't resist the temptation of banging their heads to the moshy rhythms of these 4 young, thrashing Finnish lads when they listened to Prestige's releases. If you were into bands like Anthrax, Slayer, Nuclear Assault and the likes, then Prestige was surely your cup of tea - not a slightest doubt about that.
The band's best release musically, which also happened to be their 3rd and last album titled PARASITES IN PARASITES, is introduced on this collection by 8 songs, so it's very cool from the band they have seen the importance of this release themselves. With that album, which was also their most technical, advanced and meanest to date, the guys really sunk their teeth deeply into listeners' asses, ending their career with pride and carving a memorable epitaph into their own fine tombstone. I'm also glad they made the right choice to select 7 songs from their debut album, ATTACK AGAINST GNOMES (released in 1989) for this 20th anniversary compilation release of Prestige. It was that album from Prestige that made them known for their weird fascination with gnomes through their lyrics, and which really put them firmly on the map of Finnish metal. A very solid and decent debut release from them, I would say.
SELLING THE SALVATION, Prestige's 2nd 12-song effort, was originally released in 1990, and I guess in the name of some sort of equality, 7 songs from that album have been accepted to be a part of this double-CD collection. The material on SELLING THE SALVATION was a bit faster, teeny-weeny bit fiercer sounding and even more technical Speed/Thrash Metal compared to the band's debut. I think it's rightful to say the band was heading toward more accepted paths musically at that time, also achieving a part of mainstream success for them with this album. As a whole, the album was far from being the most original Speed/Thrash Metal release, but despite that Prestige continued kicking some serious ass in an effective enough and successful way - there's just not a slightest question about that.
My only complaint is that Prestige's past 'gems' should have been re-released in their entirety. Now obviously just a well thought-out selection of songs have been ripped out from each of their 3 full-length albums for this anniversary collection of the Prestige's entire history. Well, having whined enough about this fact, probably their label thought reissuing all Prestige's albums would have been a bit risky business to do, I guess. However, two thumbs up for both Poko Records and Prestige for not slicing to pieces their rare, unofficial punk-ish 6-song VEIJO 7" EP (1989; limited to 300 copies; sold at their mostly!) and 5-song GODS demo for this collection though. Both of them deserve their places on the collection for sure, kind of to explain people what Prestige was all about, both musically and undoubtedly a bit ideologically as well (i.e. about metal, beer, punk attitude and drunken gnomes, ha!).
If Prestige is one of those strangely missing parts from your puzzle of the Finnish Speed/Thrash Metal of early times, then this collection is an absolutely mandatory purchase for you.