The Provenance - _Red Flags_
(Peaceville, 2006)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
Sometimes there is nothing quite like going into an album without a clue of what to expect. That was certainly the case with me on The Provenance's _Red Flags_, despite the fact that this is the Swedes' fourth full-length record. It happens to be coming out side by side with the latest album by their new labelmates My Dying Bride, but instead of ending up hidden in its shadow, it sounds more enthusiastic and fresh, and deserves to be noticed.

Saying that The Provenance use both male and female clean vocals could well plant an unwelcome stereotype in most people's heads; if that's the case, then you'll be in for a surprise when you spin this disc. For the most part, _Red Flags_ doesn't really allow the listener to assume that he knows what comes next. Based on a production that is unusually gritty for the genre but quite effective, The Provenance discharge a mix of venom and sugar that is a far cry from any mixed vocal combos out there. It's all urban misery and a weariness of life and society, served in different shades throughout the disc -- some deceptively sweet, others just plain bitter. Riffs, rhythms and vocals are all remarkably infectious -- and what's more, there seems to be so much honesty in what they do, it just makes the whole thing all the more enjoyable.

Opener "At the Barricades" demonstrates their mix of angry, energetic riffs and softer passages to the point of rivaling Katatonia for best relatively radio-friendly single of the year. Further competition comes in the shape of the more melodic and rather heart-rending "Second and Last but Not Always", which is helped by very good keyboard touches and Emma Hellstrom's fine vocal performance. I hope I'm not scaring anyone away by using words like single or calling it radio-friendly -- commercial mush this most certainly is not, but it's easy to imagine it spinning on a good radio station in much the same way as you would Katatonia, for instance. Some musical links might indeed be established with Katatonia or Madder Mortem, but The Provenance definitely do their own thing and avoid coming across as anyone's clone. A couple of weaker tracks (namely "The Cost" and "One Warning" towards the end of the record) prove that The Provenance can't get it right every time, but even those are far from terrible. "Settle Soon" provides a very good finish to the album, bringing back to mind its best moments.

_Red Flags_ makes it very clear I need to seek all of The Provenance's previous albums really soon, because I have been missing out on a very interesting and unusual band, and by the end of 2006 it will have been one of my most frequently played records of the year.


(article published 23/10/2006)

1/14/2002 C Flaaten The Provenance: Spending Hours Bleeding For Music
1/14/2002 C Flaaten 8.5 The Provenance - 25th Hour; Bleeding
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