The Reticent – The Oubliette

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label: https://www.heavenandhellrecords.com
Released: 2020
Buy Album: https://thereticent.bandcamp.com
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/thereticentmusic

Band line-up:

Chris Hathcock – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Vocals, Additional Percussion
James Nelson – Lead Guitar

Tracklisting:

1. Stage 1 – His Name Is Henry
2. Stage 2 – The Captive
3. Stage 3 – The Palliative Breath
4. Stage 4 – The Dream
5. Stage 5 – The Nightmare
6. Stage 6 – The Oubliette
7. Stage 7 – ________

Review:

The Reticent are a progressive metal band from North Carolina, who will be releasing their latest album ’The Oubliette’ on 25th September, through Heaven & Hell Records. It is an autobiographical tale about the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease. It follows their critically acclaimed 2016 release ‘On The Eve Of A Goodbye’ which was another tragic autobiographical concept album, but about the suicide of Hathcock’s childhood friend Eve. In their performances, the band are noted for creating impressive audiovisual and emotional experiences by utilising film and storytelling.

The vocal melodies are often real highlights of this album as they have some really nice, almost jazzy, dark notes, delivered with an emotional yet strong richness. Don’t worry, the group don’t sound like a boy band, though. They’re not THAT emotional. Far from it. To be clear, this is metal. Maybe the music is just a tiny bit slow to develop in places and some editing could be beneficial, especially where the melodies get samey, which unfortunately is quite a lot of places. However, those who are a little more patient and tolerant, wouldn’t perceive there to be any serious rehashing. For those modern metallers who need constant excitement on the other hand, things may be different.

There are certainly a lot of build ups in the music, but the songs don’t often reach true exhilarating crescendoes. The music is also lacking in originality a little as it does sound quite like Opeth. Track ‘The Captive’ has some really sweet saxophone playing in it, but one wonders if it is there simply for the sake of it as it stands out a little in an ever so slightly weird way, rather than a refreshing way. Especially when you consider the rarity of the instrument in the album. The playing IS good, but perhaps a more traditional guitar solo would be better. The axeman clearly is very skilled with his virtuosic, yet tasteful playing (he kind of brings to mind John Petrucci) so a little more of it would be more than welcome.

4th track ‘The Dream’ has a dark if not disturbing mood instrumentally speaking that is a refreshing break, but still the vocals sound familiar. After almost 5 minutes, some nicely developed riffs enter that are soon met with flashy soloing, then bass guitars and keys take the main role, then almost clean guitars. It’s all classic prog, but relatively stripped down. Again, more intense and wild metallers may be longing for things to be hurried up, though Tool fans would likely appreciate it. Track 5 ‘The Nightmare’ has a more raging death metal feel with frequent blast beats, providing a welcome boost to the listener’s adrenaline levels. Here, the unusual instruments (in this case brass) work as their powerful nature compliments the distorted guitars nicely. It would be good if there were more of them, though. There’s a really cool part in the song, where the same chords get played over and over but with twisting, complex rhythms. The mental drums at the end and overall chaos is a highlight. More of that very intelligent stuff would be awesome. 

In conclusion, this is a highly decent, adventurous album in all areas a fair amount of the time, but the songs tend to stick to the same formula. The vocals are outstanding in delivery which is lucky as you get a lot of them. If they were more varied and featured in the music only when necessary, that would be perfect, but after the first three songs or so, they mostly get tired. I wonder why the songs have to be quite so long as again some editing is needed, but some songs do build very nicely. In fact if this was an EP featuring the strongest tracks, it would get an easy 4.5/5. With more thoughtful and expert composing, a solid 5 wouldn’t be at all ridiculous. This album is still strongly recommended, but the group don’t reach the artistic levels of bands such as Opeth. 

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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