You know how sometimes you ignore a band for no reason? And then, when you finally take a listen years down the road, you find that they are simply mind-blowing? I recently was messaged by a reader with a song from the latest album from Thence, “We Are Left With a Song”. Of course, I had seen the album cover around social media, but something kept me from pursuing it. I’m very glad I decided to change that, however, as this album is one of the most evocatively beautiful albums I’ve heard this year.
Thence hails from gorgeous Finland, and you can definitely hear that Scandinavian accent throughout the music. Their musical style is one that feels familiar and fresh at the same time. While the base of the music definitely feels like post-metal to me, fans of Katatonia and Anathema will find many familiar emotions and ideas therein. The music definitely is metallic in nature, but not in the traditional, riff-based sense. Instead, the songs are structured with various layers of instrumentation that all combine for a big climax near the end of the song. There is also a great amount of ambient space and transitional timing involved here that keeps the heavier bits quite few in number, but also presents us with a wondrous atmosphere that feels planetary in scope.
The band consists of two players: Juha Sirkkiä on vocals, keys, guitar, and bass; and Erno Räsänen on drums and percussion. These two players put down some amazing sounds here, and it blows me away that only two guys are involved. The driving nature of the bass and guitar are perfect for the big build up of each song, as is the burn of the guitar. Juha’s guitars are generally one of two styles: either high-tuned, emotional journeys or straight up distorted atmospherics. The former is one of the foundations of their style, and is quite catchy, despite the unconventional structure of the songs.
Probably the most remarkable part of the music, however, is the keys. These keys provide soaring orchestral highs that are vital to the melodies, and, just when you don’t expect the music to soar further up and up, it does and takes your heart with it. Imagine this bright, beautiful orchestral style up against dark, even depressing, textures with driving guitars that are almost metallic in style, and you’ll begin to understand the style here.
Just when you think you grasp the style here, however, the band throws a curve ball: classy, jazzy sax in the vein of Pink Floyd. So, as the music builds and builds, it generally breaks on the shore of a wonderful sax solo that joins the chorus of layers. “Pursue”, my favorite track here, is a great example of this jazz and blues influence. It is longer in length, and the build comes quite early. However, it climaxes in the middle and transitions into a beautiful, sax-led melody that floors me every time.
All of this music surrounds a general theme that can be quite depressing. The main thrust of the album is that life is basically what we make of it. Nothing and no one is going to live it for you, so leave behind all the useless things in life to pursue self-knowledge and understanding. But the album ends on a sour note: Life will get you eventually, anyways. In some ways, I feel like it addresses this idea of the cyclical nature of human life, wherein we strive and fight, but it all ends the same way: death and nothingness. Whether you agree with that or not, the music will transport you there and it’s quite poignant.
As I said, my favorite track is “Pursue” with its big transition in the center, but I also love “I Burn the Day, the Ghost”, “It is Truth That Liberates”, and the ever beauteous “Life Will Get You Eventually”. Every track is a scenic, textured trip through darker places and grey soundscapes, and all of them appeal to the emotional, longing side in each of us. “We Are Left With a Song” is essentially human in all its moving parts.
So, don’t wait to check out that band that you see hanging around on the Internet. The worldwide web is literally the reason that prog has survived thus far, and it’s the reason I discovered it. Thence’s latest is a wonderful example of how gorgeous, artistic music is still being created all over the world, so support it as much as possible.