The Provenance - Red Flags
Peaceville Records
Gothic Rock, Progressive Metal
10 songs (47:48)
Release year: 2006
The Provenance, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Although Swedish five-piece The Provenance may on the surface be easily categorised as Gothic Metal due to the dual vocals, here shared between keyboardist Emma Hellstrom and guitarist Tobias Martinsson, in reality the band are light years in front of many of the clones that populate the genre. Musically more Indie Rock than Operatic Metal, The Provenance also takes in elements of genres from Noise to straight-up Prog, all whilst never letting go of the essential Rock. There is a fair amount of influence from Dutch giants The Gathering, moreso than obvious Gothic touchstones like Lacuna Coil, and beyond that The Provenance are pretty unique.

Despite having been active since 1995, Red Flags is only the band’s fourth full-length, and is a well-crafted and professional effort. Of course, the main feature of the band is Emma Hellstrom’s voice, which shuns the Tarja-impressions in favour of a more Poppish, mid-pitched melody. Tobias Martinsson’s vocals are more typical, but still quite impressive in a genre where male vocals are often the failing of many a well-established band. Also worthy of mention is drummer Joel Lindell, whose rhythmic poundings are the driving force of the music.

The songs themselves are fairly similar in style meaning the album has a natural flow to it, and although it takes a good few listens to really get the most from it (and when that moment finally hits and you ‘get’ it, you’ll find it hard to tear yourself away) the songs are catchy enough that listening is never a chore. A few tweaks here and there and this could quite easily be an album of singles (the insistent, throbbing drumming of One Warning is practically danceable) each track having its own hook, some admittedly more obvious than others, but all clearly bearing the marks of seasoned songwriters.

For the most part, the band keeps keyboards firmly in the background, passing almost unnoticed unless you concentrate, but some interestingly psychedelic sound effects are used to great effect every so often, such as on Crash Course. There are even certain moments, Leave-Takings, for example, when you’re reminded of Norwegian legends Enslaved’s more recent output, the keyboards matching that spacey ambience perfectly. Elsewhere, tracks such as Second And Last But Not Always have a curious power-ballad feel to them that’s very endearing, whilst in Revelling Masses and several places further on in the album there’s an urgent tone to the vocals, which when matched with the instrumental passages on some of the lengthier tracks creates a subtly epic atmosphere – Deadened is a perfect example, moving from soft Jazz at the start to slow, practically Doom Metal riffs.

The Provenance are definitely a breath of fresh air in a genre that is growing full rather quickly. If you’re one of those that can appreciate progression and experimentation in music without sacrificing the essential catchiness then this is a perfect album, and even if that doesn’t apply to you, the odds are that you’ll dig it anyway. A good band, well worth checking out - does it get any simpler?

Killing Songs :
At The Barricades, Second And Last But Not Always, Revelling Masses, Leave-Takings, The Cost, Deadened, One Warning
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by The Provenance that we have reviewed:
The Provenance - Still At Arms Length reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
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