The Reticent - The Oubliette review



Reviewer:
8.0

9 users:
7.56
Band: The Reticent
Album: The Oubliette
Release date: September 2020


01. His Name Is Henry
02. The Captive
03. The Palliative Breath
04. The Dream
05. The Nightmare
06. The Oubliette
07. ________


Prog's most emotionally gutwrenching one-man band returns with plenty more feels.

I haven't heard any of The Reticent's earlier material, but I am familiar with 2016's On The Eve Of A Goodbye, a highly evocative album centred around the period immediately before and after the suicide of a friend of The Reticent mastermind Chris Hathcock. The album had some of the pitfalls that one might expect to appear in a one-man prog project, with the odd moment or song that could have benefitted from an editor or second creative voice, as well as an occasional overreliance on Opeth influences in its more extreme passages, but it was also full of enchanting prog passages and emotionally resonant vocals, and really maximized the impact and creative possibilities of the concept. The Oubliette is the next album released under The Reticent's name, and tells the story of the protagonist Henry's decline as a result of Alzheimer's disease, heavy subject matter again inspired by life experience of Hathcock. The Reticent's track record for dealing with such serious subject matter was promising, and with The Oubliette they deliver on said promise.

On The Eve Of A Goodbye was a hefty listen, clocking in at 73 minutes; The Oubliette is still long, but runs for a far more manageable 64 minutes. However, whilst my recent review of Oceans Of Slumber's most recent effort highlighted the challenges that maintaining listener interest over a lengthy extreme prog record can pose, The Oubliette is not an album that feels bloated and tiring to listen to; I found it far easier to put in the necessary replays to write this review than I did for Oceans Of Slumber. Part of that comes from the structuring of the record; The Oubliette focuses its more extreme moments for the darker periods of Henry's (based on a relative of Hathcock's) story, such as "The Captive", where Henry believes he is wrongly imprisoned at his nursing home, and "The Nightmare", where he believes he is in Hell. In addition to fitting the subject matter, these extreme songs are positioned in the tracklist in a manner that both flows naturally and provides a varied listening experience.

In between these songs, The Reticent explore a more melodic style of prog, whether ripping out complex, jagged prog-metal riffs ("The Oubliette"), quiet acoustic melancholy ("The Palliative Breath") or serene soundscapes ("The Dream"). Hathcock is similarly adept at pulling off all these sounds, meaning that The Oubliette is both consistently satisfying and also sufficiently varied to keep me hooked. "His Name Is Henry" sees Hathcock display his full vocal range early on, switching from softer crooning, to rapid-fire delivery, then strained soaring and semi-shredded exclamations; this track isn't my favourite on the album (it, along with subsequent song "The Captive", are the ones that venture most obviously into Opeth territory, whilst some of the later tracks feel a bit more unique), but it's an enjoyable scene-setter and throws in the odd curveball (such as the lounge jazz break halfway through) before an intense, tech death-y ending. "The Captive" also has a sprinkle of jazz courtesy of some tenor sax from guest Andrew Lovett, one of several guests on the album, with live guitarist James Nelson also featuring as a lead guitarist on The Oubliette.

The Reticent throw in a few other little surprises in addition to the dabbling in jazz across The Oubliette; "The Captive" opens with unorthodox hand-drum percussion, which is reprised later in the record, whilst the wind ensemble that cameos on "The Nightmare" adds an element of grandeur to this relatively vicious song. However, the album shines brightest in more conventional territory; the stirring harmonized vocals during the climax of the otherwise soft "The Palliative Breath" cut right to core of listeners, whilst the rhythmic riffs and lead guitars during "The Dream" serve as a quality example of how enjoyable complex instrumental prog can be.

The Oubliette isn't perfect; it features a lot of very good music, but relatively few true standout moments. Additionally, the longer songs don't always have the most natural flow between sections. However, these are minor nitpicks of what is for the most part a reliably engaging, adventurous and intelligently composed record. It doesn't necessarily deliver the gutpunches that tracks on its predecessor such as "Funeral For A Firefly" do, but it does a respectable job of capturing the devastation and deterioration that Alzheimer's disease causes, and will hopefully help further grow the reputation of this impressive yet mostly unknown project.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


 



Written on 21.09.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 8   Visited by: 62 users
21.09.2020 - 20:33
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Honestly never heard the name before, but this review does make me eager to check it out.
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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21.09.2020 - 20:42
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 21.09.2020 at 20:33

Honestly never heard the name before, but this review does make me eager to check it out.


I don't even know how I found them; I've had On The Eve Of A Goodbye in my digital library for a few years but who knows where I discovered it, maybe the progmetal subreddit? They've certainly got very muted coverage elsewhere, but I think there's plenty enough here to give them the potential for a bigger following; having other full-time band members may help with ironing out some of the creases with the songwriting that occasionally pop up, but the quality's there for sure
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22.09.2020 - 04:47
Lanthros
Written by RaduP on 21.09.2020 at 20:33

Honestly never heard the name before, but this review does make me eager to check it out.

My sentiments exactly. Never heard of them before but the review makes me want to hear them.
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25.09.2020 - 23:46
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 21.09.2020 at 20:33

Honestly never heard the name before, but this review does make me eager to check it out.


This is out now, give it a go and lemme know what you think
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29.09.2020 - 14:24
JoHn DoE
Just finished listening to it, this is a good album, needs more listens to sink in properly, but i enjoyed it quite a bit.

2020 albums list worthy.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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29.09.2020 - 16:44
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Damn this guy really loves Opeth. Really cool that they sampled this.
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
Loading...
29.09.2020 - 17:02
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 29.09.2020 at 16:44

Damn this guy really loves Opeth. Really cool that they sampled this.


Yeah, the Opeth-isms come and go, but when they're there, they're very obvious
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02.10.2020 - 13:57
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Now that I also found out where the cover art is from, the sample I mentioned earlier makes more sense. This does strike a sort of personal chord, so I will have to pay closer attention on a relisten.
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
Loading...

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