Seattle’s underground scene, and its surrounding areas, appears to be in a state of vibrant health right about now with the likes of Bone Sickness, Breag Naofa and A God Or An Other all releasing quality music of late, touching on death metal, sludge and black metal – meaning the scene has variety as well as fluidity. A Province of Thay are a very different prospect, though, and occupy the other end of the spectrum with their debut The Grieving.
Using a ballpark description, A Province of Thay have taken many cues from post rock to lay the foundation for their melodically-minded sound that’s focused on lush ambience, glistening pianos and angelic vocals.
But for all its melodicism, the band has a penchant for the grandiose and imposing, to counteract the serenity at their core. Throughout the album’s five tracks, there’s a strong push and pull between these two facets that makes the tension and drama all the more affecting.
‘All We Know Is Loss’ opens the record with an almost doom-like gauntlet laid down before gentle keyboards and serene lead guitars take over and the blissful wail of vocalist Ronald Navarro follows. What comes next is a gripping foray into melodic metal and gorgeous post rock.
The band has also taken a few cues from the likes of Braveyoung and Mono in their ability to create tension with these components. ‘A Legacy In The Trees’ begins with more spectral keyboards before a trudging and altogether dramatic charge of riffs and evocative vocals take control once again. You’ll find that this is a recurring theme throughout the album but never once does it become tedious or even predictable.
Rather, A Province of Thay have mastered a very tender balance. Many of the vocal melodies recall the imposing nature of Junius’ and when placed against the backdrop of the band’s own hair raising guitars and keyboards, it creates something a little more unique. It’s this dynamic that really sets A Province of Thay apart and their harnessing of this skill set creates the staying power.
‘A Sovereign Will’ can lay claim to being the album’s highpoint and staggering centrepiece, where almost-lethargic verses of dreary guitars and brooding vocals begin blossoming into something truly beautiful led by sleek lead guitars. Finally, ‘The Herald’ is an altogether more ebullient track that finishes the album well even if it comes to an abrupt end, perhaps deliberately so, as a message to us all that A Province of Thay have a lot of left to say.