The Reticent - On the Eve of a GoodbyeOne-man bands abound. Is it because these guys have no friends? Too much ego to get along with others? Or are they just introverts who prefer to putter around on their own, with no accountability to others? Hard to say, and while these ‘projects’ can dominate the black and doom metal genres, it’s a little less common to see them on the progressive metal front. So when I see a promo that comes from The Reticent, a one-man (Chris Hathcock) project hailing from North Carolina, I’m a bit leery. Then I read he’s a Grammy-nominated individual. Cool! For what? Well, for being a music teacher, and you know what they say: those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach (or review). So I expect a lesson in obscure scales and don’t hold out much hope for awesomeness.

A bit about this record. On the Eve of a Goodbye is, yes, a concept album. Queue the eye rolling: it’s not as if this isn’t the norm in this genre. And it’s 70+ minutes long. Yay, prog metal bloat! But hold on, because the concept here isn’t the overused “a young man in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future must find the chalice/artifact/woman and save humankind.” No, this is an autobiographical concept, detailing the day before, of, and after Hathcock’s friend Eve’s suicide, his feelings, and what he imagines her thought process was. That’s heady stuff. And one final note, production is handled by Jamie King, he of Between the Buried and Me fame. So sonically this might sound like Coma Ecliptic, but I hope there’s at least a modicum of song structure on this album, and not just chaotic wankery.

And there is. On the Eve of a Goodbye opens with a brief narrative, something that reoccurs throughout in an effort to convey more thoughts than the songs do. These narratives are one of the minor issues here: the style is mixed, at times coming across like Thomas Hayden Church and other times breaking down a bit more like the singer. These narratives needed to be more consistent, but the songs quickly make us forget this. Hard-hitting opener “The Girl Broken” is a great song – fast, aggressive, complex yet well-arranged, with a mix of clean and harsh vocals similar to Watershed-era Opeth. Considering Hathcock plays all instruments except horns, and provides all male vocals, the talent here is remarkable. While he has a somewhat plain-sounding clean voice, his harsh growls and screams are stellar, and as the story gets more emotional, so does his delivery.

The Reticent 2016

The entire album is as strong as “The Girl Broken,” but the emotional impact really picks up in the second half. The climax of the story comes in the two songs “The Decision” and “Funeral for a Firefly.” The former builds to a stunning, white noise crescendo before abruptly cutting off and the latter is simply one of the most emotional songs I’ve heard. In fact, the vocals for this track were cut in one take and not cleaned up at all. You can hear Hathcock sobbing, his breath shaking between lyrics, and the anguish drips from his words. I’m a big tough olde metal dude, but I definitely get something in my eye every time I play “Funeral for a Firefly.” Album closer “For Eve” is a touching, poignant acoustic instrumental, reverently plucked at first before building to an uplifting finish. The whole record leaves the listener, and almost certainly Hathcock, exhausted.

I haven’t talked about the album’s problems, but they are nitpicky, really: a narrative voice that can’t decide on character and a lack of lead breaks – there’s a sax solo, and a couple of short, tasteful guitar solos, but more leads would have increased the emotional impact of some of these songs (think Operation: Mindcrime without solos).

These issues don’t detract from the overall package, though, and the fact is On the Eve of a Goodbye is one of the best concept albums of recent memory, a lengthy prog metal opus that fires on all cylinders. The concept is beautifully executed, the songs are actual songs with stellar arrangements, crystal clear production, and a ton of emotion. The Reticent have released a great record here, one that needs to be played beginning to end, and one that’s sure to finish in my year end top 10 list of prog metal, if not the top 5.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Heaven & Hell Records
Websites: thereticent.net | facebook.com/thereticentmusic
Releases Worldwide: October 5th, 2016

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  • “Funeral for a Firefly” is a tough goddamn listen.

    • El_Cuervo

      It’s so powerful.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      I can’t think of a more emotional song in recent memory.

    • GardensTale

      Holy fuck I was almost bawling in the train listening to him scream inbetween his shaking breaths

    • Hammersmith

      Why did I listen to this at work? I’m not crying, you’re crying!

      • Dude….

        • Hammersmith

          Work is generally the time I get the most music consumption in since I have little ones at home. This was a rough listen though, almost got a bit misty, not gonna lie.

    • Grymm

      Goddamn, this.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Return of the boob!

    Edit: This is some seriously good shit. I was worried after I saw Btbam and Opeth mentioned but the sample was a pleasant surprise. The clean vocals sound strangely similar to Aaron Lewis of Staind fame…

    The review was great as well, really piqued my interest. Good job, Huck.

    • GrimStilt

      Is it just me or anybody else wondering why there’s no ‘Sorceress’ review yet? Forget review, nobody even talks about it. I thought people still like Opeth

  • Syn

    Sounds really nice. Will have to look into it further!

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Neat! Taking on moonlighting work as inconsistently as I do, it’s pretty cool to see this band still using the logo I did for them a few years back. He’s super friendly and committed to his work, it’s great to see him get a good review here.

  • El_Cuervo

    That song is badass. I wish it wasn’t just available on iTunes and Amazon though…

    • Huck N’ Roll

      I believe it is also a limited run of 500 CDs.

  • Kronos

    Remind me to listen to this when I’m done with meshuggah

  • Anarchist

    That was one of the most disconcerting music videos I’ve seen in a long time. I imagine it was meant to be.

    Powerful stuff. I’m making sure I set aside time on the weekend to listen to this from start to finish. I’ve always loved albums that can make me feel.

  • Zadion

    The sounds amazing and like exactly what I look for in my music. I’m sold.

  • Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick

    I thoroughly enjoyed the embedded track. Never would’ve guessed this was a one-man project. I like some one-man bands, but some have difficulties with self-editing. Not having listened to more than this one track I couldn’t venture a guess if he suffers from this syndrome. In reference to “why” one-man bands exist, I’m sure there’s many reasons (some of which the reviewer most likely hit the nail on the head). But from the review and the track, I would guess he did this solo from a purely personal space; not wanting to have to share his pain with other muscicians. Just a guess. Bottom line, this sounds great! Thanks for a great review.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Pleasure! As far as individual songs go, no real self-editing problem on this album. The whole thing is pretty long but works within the context of the subject matter. I’m sure it could have been ten minutes shorter, but due to the personal nature of this I bet there’s no way he could decide what to cull.

  • Ein Sophistry

    Fantastic album and, yes, certainly one of the most emotionally powerful I’ve heard in quite some time.

    Also: Hammered dulcimer in the last track! m/

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Dulcimer! Thank you :) I was wracking my brain for the name of the instrument and it wasn’t coming to me.

  • Adjudant

    Finally a concept album with an identifiable concept!

  • jetblindracos

    Powerful stuff.Love the bass.

    lo

  • GardensTale

    I went to an art school, and every year we had a week with a pressure cooker project with people from different faculties. One year we did the most emotional project I have ever been a part of: surrounding themselves with objects from their lives or symbolic for it, each 10 minute performance was one of the group members presenting something from their lives, followed by a reading of the speech written for their own funeral by a parent or loved one. No one was allowed to read the speech in advance so the emotion displayed was 100% real and raw. Plus it meant every performance could only be done once.

    The single take vocals on Funeral for a Firefly brought that racing back. Deeply moving and very powerful stuff. I’ll make a point of clearing out 75 minutes from my schedule before putting this on.

    • Ein Sophistry

      What an awesome idea for a project.

  • I don’t think I’m going to make it beyond the third track. So much Watershed era Opeth. Drowning.

  • brklyner

    I was prepared not to like this, but the embedded track won me over. Quite impressive. The clean vocal harmonies and production sound a lot like Maynard James Keenan to me, which usually would signal a lame Tool rip-off, but here it is executed so well that it just works. Thanks for the review, I look forward to hearing the rest of this album.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    This is something of a soul mate to albums like Hand. Cannot. Erase. and Voices’ London, and even to Johnny Cash’s song “25 Minutes to Go”.

  • Rina and Raven

    Does anybody know if I can find lyrics for this album somewhere? Without narrative it will only be a half of experience, and I probably won’t get even 50% of lyrics on my own, especially parts with harsh singing. There are no lyrics on Bandcamp. =(

    • Zadion

      Seconded. I ordered the CD version, so hopefully the album booklet will contain the lyrics. But I refuse to listen to this until I get them. I’m thoroughly expecting the most powerful emotional impact I’ve experienced since Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and I don’t want to ruin that.

    • Anarchist

      I’ve ordered the cd. If it comes with a lyric booklet, I’ll see if I can’t transcribe them online and make them available.

      • Rina and Raven

        That would be great! I simply don’t get why lyrics get neglected. I waited for half a year for October Falls’ Plague of a Coming Age and for about a year for Serdce’s Timelessness lyrics to become available on lyrics sites. Why the hell bands can’t just post it on Facebook? Is there some kind of conspiracy?

    • Reticent Chris

      The lyrics will be available in the booklet of the CD. There is a lyric video made for the song “The Comprehension” on youtube if that is of any use to you.

      • Rina and Raven

        That’s not an option. It’s American, isn’t it? Standard shipping time from US to my country is between three months and half a year. Or never, if our post desides to lose it. And they do it sometimes. Fun fact is that a parcel needs only two weeks to reach the border. After that it’s all black magic. No-no-no, only digital downloads, please!

  • Willem Stander

    This is a tough album for me, it’s great, but proves a difficult listen as I can relate. This may be my album of the year. Astonishing work.

  • MastersApprentice

    Excellent review, just bought this digitally and really enjoying it so far. As a side note I’m not sure where you got the DR11 reading as I ran the raw WAV files through the TT meter and I got DR8 overall with most of the actual songs clocking in at DR6.

  • Reticent Chris

    I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to listen to and review my album. Excellent writing. Best wishes to you and may all be well in your part of the world.

    -Chris

    • Cheers, Chris. Great album, and on a personal note; sorry for your loss.

      • Reticent Chris

        Much obliged to you for listening. Thank you for the kind thoughts and condolences.

    • SegaGenitals

      Nice work, pal. Keep it up.

      • Reticent Chris

        Thank you very much for listening. I will do my best.

    • Done great . Love the album .

      • Reticent Chris

        Thank you so much for listening. I am very glad you enjoyed the record.

    • Reese Burns

      I’m pretty late, but I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine what you were/are going through.

      • Reticent Chris

        It seems I’m late as well. Thank you for the kind words. It is not something I’d wish upon another, that is for certain. But hopefully the silver lining in the sable cloud is that this experience now documented might help someone else.

    • Grymm

      It should be us thanking you, Chris. This is a stellar album, and you should be proud of what you accomplished. “Funeral for a Firefly” made me cry like few songs have before.

      And again, sorry for your loss.

      • Reticent Chris

        I’m terribly late with this reply but I am honored to have affected you with my music. Thank you so much for listening.

        • 7yhnmju8

          I’m joining the late party just because I didn’t know how else to communicate, but I love this album and have listened to it a ton since it came out. It’s criminal that I haven’t seen it yet on any best-of lists for this year!

    • Jukka Alanen

      Hello Chris and thanks for the awesome record! My only complaint is that the postage is so huge (CD €10.86 EUR, plus €11.78 shipping for Finland).

      So I was wondering if there will be a digital version for sale in Bandcamp at some point? I would gladly pay $10 or something like that for just the digital version. :)

      • Reticent Chris

        Thank you for the kind words Jukka. Unfortunately, the shipping costs are dictated by the US Postal Service that raised prices again this year. It cost me $15 just to ship one CD to Japan yesterday. I wish so much that I had the resources to be able to do it cheaper.

        The digital version of every album I’ve ever done (including my horrible first demo record) is available on The Reticent’s website. Just go to the music tab. All are available for under $10. I hope that helps. Best wishes!

  • Great Review I enjoyed it along with the album itself . Yes top 5 best prog and for sure is in my personal top metal list. I love the emotional and Technical pieces of the album lot .

  • Peter

    I know I’m coming late to this. Ordered the CD the day I read this review. With it came a very nice letter about the album. Extremely personal touch for a personal record. Made it through about half but hadn’t made it the rest of the way. Yesterday (while on a 6 hour flight) I out this one. When “Funeral for a Firefly” came on I expected some emotional impact based on the comments here. But holy shit. When the anguish filled his voice it literally took my breath away. I felt an almost crushing sorrow. That is what good music can do. This is an excellent album.

  • Borden Webb Brown

    I’m sold after that. The Girl Broken.

  • dedseed1

    Jesus Christ! Having only started listening to this album yesterday, I’ve already listened to it at least 10 times now. This has grabbed me like no other album has in a long fucking time. 2016 AOTY as far as I’m concerned.

  • Sean Sky

    My only real issue with this album is that I found the spoken word sections to be kind of cheesy / poorly acted.