The Provenance
25th Hour; Bleeding

This is one if those really unusual releases that provided me with a serious split personality complex. You see, while I am listening to this debut from this promising and diverse quintet, I am enjoying it completely. Yet, when I am not listening to it, there is nothing about it that makes me crave listening to it again, and gives me that “one more spin” feeling.

The Provenance are truly a musical sponge – they have soaked elements from all genres, styles and influences and melded a very dramatic mix of gothic, NWSDM, doom and traditional metal. From the twisted opening symphonic Arcturus style riffing of “Deluded into Delirium” to the elegant, emotive structure of “Shut Down” that resembles The Gathering, you get it all. To give them credit, they actually do manage to pull it off without complete sense of plagiarism. Generally all the songs are guitar driven, punchy, upbeat songs with the occasional moody slowdown.

However, where The Provenance show a pinch of individuality if the use of a flute (ala Anglagard) throughout the album. Much like when Ebony Tears introduced a violin to the NWSDM, The Provenance have given the album just a small aspect by which they can stand out just a little from the hordes of similar bands. The flute (courtesy of very talented band member Emma Hellstrom, who also sings and plays keyboards), is not just utilized as a predictable backdrop to acoustics or instrumentals, but dances a melody nicely along with the main guitar/bass structures of the songs; the crunchy flute-led main riff on “Ignominy Embodied” and the closing few minutes of “Listening” being particular highlights. In fact, the songs that feature this element are definitely the standout songs; in contrast the flute-less songs merely seem average in comparison.

The album’s better tracks (“All of Reality,” “Shut Down,” “Ignominy Embodied,” “Listening,” and “Deluded into Delirium”) are tracks that combine multiple elements and stray towards the heavier side of the metal spectrum. They feature lush powerful keyboards that are atmospheric without being too cheesy. In fact, the keyboard playing is stellar and provides just enough pomp and mood to please any goth fan, but they really flow well within the heavier riffs to get the attention of your average metalhead. When they kick in on “Deluded into to Delirium,” it’s quite beautiful. The good songs also take advantage of Emma Hellstrom’s silky smooth voice that when sided with Tobias Martinsson’s cliched rasp produces an effective “Beauty and the Beast” ambience that I enjoy. (Czech doomsters Thalarion have this effect down perfectly). Tobias also has a fairly competent clean voice that adds to the mix well.

Unfortunately, the other songs drift into familiar Goth/doom territory, reaching out to the emotional side in us by being a little light and weepy for my taste (especially after recent clunkers by Danse Macabre and Alas). These less varied tunes wane and simply come across as The Gathering (circa Mandylion) clones, as they rely far too much solely on Ms. Hellstrom’s voice rather than the complete spectrum of the whole band. The guitar work of Martinsson and Joakim Rosen is competent and is a mainstay in the better songs, but far from technically awe-inspiring. As expected, the whole affair is well produced, organic and lush. Even after all the tangible positives I could find, I still had a hard time voluntarily listening to the whole album – after a while it just kind of drags into the realms of the uninteresting (I think that may be more of personal genre issue). However, this is a promising and varied debut that, if anything, highlights the talents of Emma Hellstrom, and hopefully in the future will pay dividends for the entire band. I feel they will be very deserving very soon.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
April 27th, 2001

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