THE PROVENANCE – Still At Arms Length

THE PROVENANCE - Still At Arms Length


Release date: March 10, 2003

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The sophomore release from Sweden’s The Provenance, Still At Arms Length, is a very heavy, dark, atmospheric release – with flutes and death metal growls. Can’t have one without the other now, can we? Oh wait, Jethro Tull …

They call their kind of music “high-class avant garde gothic metal.” It makes you wonder what the low-class version of the same genre is. Probably music produced by some sort of lumpenproletariat band.

Let’s get to the best stuff first. The song “At Random Choose” begins with an eerie guitar piece and bombastic drumming. It rips. The vocals start in, death metal growls, yelling “Both on the ground, he’s forcing her, his kisses hurt like nothing else, he doesn’t care at all, pressing himself against her, wanting more at all costs.” Yeah, a rape tune. But in this case, these growls by Tobias Martinsson are accompanied by the singing of Emma Hellstrom. Having both vocals on top of each creates an unearthly combination. But, the song gets worse, if you are in to lyrics: “You cum as I please, constantly or never. I’m not through with you, my maker!” My maker? That’d make this a mother-rape song, or a God-rape song. And the track offers the lyrics “she’s cleaning herself, washing the memories free from her bloodstained orgasm of pain…” Umm, next song.

Most of the songs have this somewhat nihilistic approach, this clinically depressed vision of life, love and death. For instance, in the song “At Arms Length,” lines like “the tears, the crying, this world is dying, the lack, the sorrow, denuding the morrow …” are probably not lyrics you’d hear from Wham UK! And this formula for starting the song with the death metal growls, followed by Hellstrom’s singing, her voice guiding you through the journey of the song, flat out works. Martinsson can sing as well, and does in this song and others, in a deep, Peter Steele sort of voice.

The only song that might not fit the atmosphere of the CD is the fourth song, an instrumental called “The Ardbeg Experience.” It feels like a bridge if you listen to the CD in its entirety, a slow, mellow, resting point before the onslaught begins again. Of course, if that is the point, then it works beautifully.

Some other good songs on Still At Arms Length are “Tearful, Bitter, Broken” and “Mimic.”

If you go to their website, the one thing you’ll notice is how self-effacing they are all. When asked their professions, they say things like waitress, mailman and graphic designer. After listening to this CD, you’ll realize they should explain themselves in one word – musicians. This release might not be for everyone – most people either dig death metal vocals or they don’t – but if you want to experiment with music you’ve never heard before, then give this a whirl.

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