heavy metal

Album Review: The Reticent - "On The Eve Of A Goodbye"

thereticent Why do we listen to music, more specifically, heavy metal in all its forms; and genres? There are the usual reasons like: it’s really cool sounding, it provides a sense of belonging to a very loyal culture and so on. But the thing that really keeps us going to shows and listening to heavy metal at 50 years is that it is evocative and healing. It brings out emotions; it speaks to the heart and changes the way we feel. It can allow you to dream, feel glory or feel you are doing something wrong and sinister. It can scare you. Metal can bring you to dizzying heights of joy or bottomless pits of despair and fits of rage. In experiencing these changes in emotion it provides escape, catharsis, healing, and allows you to vent. Because most Heavy Metal fans are passionate and feel very deeply, they demand drama and contrast in their music – soaring climaxes and explosive starts, refrains and lightness, crescendos that build up and explode so fantastically that we can be caught rewinding 9 or 10 seconds to hear them again.

And when metal is dark or sad, it’s extremely dark - often disassociating and despairing. We are after all very intense people. The great irony in dark or sad music is that it is healing. The record I am about to write about is just such a record and it can bring redemption just by enabling purge itself. It is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is dark and sad, angry, aggressive, depressing and cathartic. This 4th album from the Reticent is the inspired writing of the Grammy Nominated, Christopher Hathcock, a symphonic conductor and composer whose counts Cannibal Corpse, Miles Davis and Neurosis among his favorite bands. He is a polymath, with talent, creativity and faultless authenticity.

Let’s start with an overview of the theme and academic description of the story line. This is the story of Christopher’s dear friend Eve’s suicide and the incomprehensible pain that she experienced. This is a true story that actually happened and was witnessed and experienced by Chris Himself. This is a story about Chris and all the bereft, angry, depression and guilt that go along with being the last hope for someone who takes their life. This is also a story about the indifferent immovable unbendable reality of life on its own terms. And it is a story of the tragic and baffling act of suicide itself.

The word Reticent means “reluctance to share painful secrets” in one interpretation. And it fits like a glove with this recording.

The structure of the Album is in 15 tracks containing 4 spoken interludes, but these “tracks” are less individual songs and more chapters or the evolution of a single song. You see, Christopher wrote the entire lyrical content in one piece without breaks, like a story. When read the way it was written it reads part literature, part poetry, part lyrical, the writing is extremely good with evocative lines such as:

…always something quietly tragic in her smile.

I wade drearily through the guilt and shame in a myopic acceptance that there is not atonement.

It’s so bleak beneath the blanket of sadness…where is dear brother Time

…inhale fire and exhale light.

This true story takes place over a 24-hour period and so the album was recorded the same way and in the same order, such that you can hear the exhaustion and pain build to the end giving it tremendous authenticity to the real event, for the listener.

The song structure is not the traditional rondo (ABACABA), but more of a series of musical ideas that don’t always build on one another but instead alternate with occasional returns to a common theme. The more you listen to the record the more it feels like one very singular song. None of the “tracks” or “chapters” end with grand finale’s but instead with fast fades, rapid capitulation or completely abrupt stops. This of course contributes greatly to the single story/song composition. There are no traditional “ends” to the tracks, no fantastic outros, they just lead into the next chapter.

Chris plays and records all the instruments himself, except for the horns. That’s right I said Horns and they fit perfectly; although how Chris manages to make a transition from syncopation to a straight 8 rock beat seamlessly is nothing short of amazing.

There are different vocal styles employed on the album. Throughout the song there are alternations between straight vocals and hard growling dark and angry vocals. It’s worth mentioning here that this is not the typical Death Metal vocals that switch to a pop song and back. The straight vocals are not poppy but worried and sometimes hurried as if Chris knows the time is running out. The hurried feeling is an effect that felt to me to be both actual and deliberate. The “track” funeral for a firefly is so emotional it almost sounds like Chris is weeping, the female voice (Eve) here has changed to what sounds like a small angelic women’s choir. When Chris gets mad on this song, the hair on the back of your neck should be standing on end, if it is not either you are not human or you just don’t like the record. Throughout the entire song there is an overriding pain in Chris’s voice. This song ends with the chorus from amazing grace down tempo on horns and wispy in the background.

The guitar work is excellent and perfectly matches what’s going on in the story. There are some very cool guitar parts including the beginning of the “Hypocrite” which uses an ancient practice amp with heavy reverb and some flange which created a sinking feeling for me. Similar effects can be heard on “The Day After.” There is a good degree of dissonance and some parts that evolve slowly in that direction giving one the feeling of unravelling. This is an oddly familiar sound and feeling combination – almost as if it’s part of our brain software.

The guitar and drums run a diverse range of incredible variations, but because they fit what is happening in the story they blend and contribute to the whole so naturalistic, sometimes after listening to the album you might feel like you hear it on the street or in traffic. The melody, harmony and groove are very pure and unaffected by parlor tricks or hooks, but catch you just the same.

Do yourself a favor and buy or at least listen to this album. Try to listen to it more than once because you may not get it the first time.

This record is why I listen to music.

List of Chapters:
1. 24 Hours Left
2. The Girl Broken
3. The Hypocrite
4. 19 Hours Left
5. The Comprehension
6. The Confrontation
7. The Apology
8. 10 Hours Left
9. The Mirrors Reply
10. The Postscript
11. 2 Hours Left
12. The Decision
13. Funeral For a Firefly
14. The Day After
15. Eve

This record will be released on Wednesday, October 5 and can be pre-ordered HERE
Although to fully appreciate this record one should listen to it actively from beginning to end, a sample chapter is available at the site Dead Rhetoric below:

The Reticent: “The Confrontation” at Dead Rhetoric.

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Tags:  The Reticenton the eve of a goodbyechristopherhathcockgrammy

    September 21, 2016

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