The Reticent
On the Eve of a Goodbye

 

It’s all too easy to be sceptical about a one man progressive metal band with the audacity to release a fully fledged concept album, stretching across an exhausting 70 plus minute duration. However, being the open-minded individual that I generally am, the challenge of absorbing this monster opus thankfully oozes rewards for the painstaking emotional rollercoaster The Reticent mastermind Chris Hathcock drags the listener through. Yes, this isn’t typical prog concept territory; The Reticent’s whopping fourth LP is a harrowing ride detailing the days before, of and after the suicide of Hathcock’s close friend Eve. It’s heavy stuff and certainly one of the most emotionally raw and powerful albums I’ve listened to since the tragically sad, premature swansong, Woods V: Grey Skies and Electric Light by Woods of Ypres.

Right off the bat, On the Eve of a Goodbye sounds slick, muscular and musically proficient, masking the fact that it was almost entirely conceived by one very gifted person.  Nimble and fluid prog metal is the order of the day, with winding melodic passages complimented by Hathcock’s prominent clean vocals, giving way to heavier bursts of Opethian prog-death, where Hathcock’s excellent growls and screams take hold. From its delicate and sombre beginning, to the emotive riff driven melodic metal at the song’s core, “The Girl Broken” is a dramatic, aggressive and musically dynamic tune that sets an early high standard, incorporating bruising heavy parts, strong riffs and a rousing climax. Hathock’s clean vocal style is fairly no-frills and might be a sticking point for some listeners, but his emotive vocals and thoughtfully woven melodies are very well executed.

Despite its challenging length, On the Eve of a Goodbye is exceptionally well arranged and sequenced, taking the listener on a rich journey of bleak discovery, where the multitude of hooks sink in far deeper due to the raw honesty and emotion dripping from the album’s pores. Even though the songs are complex and often lengthy, there’s an unpredictable yet catchy and cohesive flow, free of overly self indulgent fodder and grounded by the distinctive and memorable songwriting and an overall accessibility that belies the depressive themes and emotionally oppressive nature of the album. And while the album is bookended by a strong melodic focus, ample moments of speed and aggression mark tracks like ‘The Confrontation” and keep the album firmly rooted in the metallic side of the progressive equation. On the Eve of a Goodbye is a difficult listen, but there’s little in the way of weak moments or ill-conceived choices. The album remains consistently immersive and powerful, though its sheer length makes the depressing and emotionally exhausting ride hard to digest in one sitting. But given the time to properly delve into and investigate the intricacies of this artfully conceived creation, the rewards are bountiful and well worth the emotional grinder Hathcock puts you through.

On the Eve of a Goodbye’s latter stages ratchet up the intensity and emotion, driving the album towards its painful conclusion. This is particularly evident on “The Decision” as the sombre acoustic passage and intense clean singing eventually hurtles into a thought blocking white noise climax. However the most powerful and heartbreaking of all is the incredibly sad, bravely executed and gut-wrenching “Funeral for a Firefly.” The piano led semi-ballad features heartbreakingly sad yet beautiful melodies and gentle female backing vocals, however its Hathcock’s one take vocal delivery where he sounds overwhelmed with grief and anguish that leaves the most haunting and devastating impact. Eventually the song takes a fierce, stuttering detour into metal territory before closing down gently and segueing into another tense emotional journey on “The Day After.” Aside from the exhausting length and some patchy spoken word narrative interludes, On the Eve of a Goodbye remains consistently gripping and is a thoroughly rewarding though emotionally draining listen.

The production generally suits the material well, sounding crisp and organic, making it easy to pick out the subtleties and finer details. I would have liked the tones to be beefier sounding overall, but this is merely a personal preference and minor nitpick. The Reticent’s On the Eve of a Goodbye took me by surprise and proceeded to floor me in all its heartbreaking, sophisticated glory. It’s a painful, flawed and often brilliant work of emotional art and a first rate progressive metal album in its own right.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
November 18th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Grymm

    “Funeral for a Firefly”… I still can’t listen to that song without tearing up by the end.


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. Your post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and maybe held up for further approval. We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Appalling - Inverted Realm
  • Euphoria Ω - Nanotech
  • Pig Destroyer - Head Cage
  • Amon Amarth - Berserker
  • Corrosive - Nourished by Blood
  • Black Sites - Exile
  • Noisem - Cease to Exist
  • Whitechapel - The Valley
  • Critical Extravasation - Morbid Existence EP
  • Yanari - Marine Leg EP
  • Meadow's End - The Grand Antiquation
  • Kull - Exile
  • Wounds - Light Eater EP
  • Blodhemn - Mot ein evig ruin
  • The Asound - Impalement Arts