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THE OUBLIETTE

The Reticent

Experimental/Post Metal


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The Reticent The Oubliette album cover
4.34 | 34 ratings | 6 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stage 1: His Name Is Henry (9:46)
2. Stage 2: The Captive (6:00)
3. Stage 3: The Palliative Breath (7:13)
4. Stage 4: The Dream (11:47)
5. Stage 5: The Nightmare (12:14)
6. Stage 6: The Oubliette (10:38)
7. Stage 7: ___________ (6:10)

Total Time 63:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Hathcock / guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals, additional percussion

with:
- James Nelson / lead guitar
- Andrew Lovett / tenor sax
- Amanda Caines / female vocals
- Steven Wynn / additional gutturals (5)

Releases information

CD Heaven and Hell Records - HHR105 (2020, US)
Digital album.

Release date: September 25, 2020

A concept album about the emotional journey into the 7 stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Thanks to TCat for the addition
and to rivertree for the last updates
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THE RETICENT The Oubliette ratings distribution


4.34
(34 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
38%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
26%
Good, but non-essential (12%)
12%
Collectors/fans only (21%)
21%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

THE RETICENT The Oubliette reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars With so many different new progressive metal bands coming out, often they start to sound the same, and while many of them are talented and deserve to be on the site, it is so hard to find those that are original, that stand out among the crowd and that know how to utilize the emotion that should be present in the music if they really want to rise above the crowd. But then, there always seems to be a few that come along each year with an album that can still make you go "Wow, where did that come from?".

I always seem to find about 3 progressive metal albums a year that seem to stand far and above the rest. This year, The Reticent's "The Oubliette" is one of those. This is one of those that, even if you don't like progressive metal, you should listen to before you pass judgement that it's just another prog metal clone. So, I'm going to start throwing names around now?..

Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Tool, Riverside, Isis. These are all bands that made their mark in the genre and stood out because, at the time, they knew how to utilize emotion. With all of the new prog metal bands out there, one tends to wonder, where is the next band that will take the prog metal world by storm instead of being a clone of one of these bands. I would dare say that The Reticent's new album is that album. Take all of the things that made the aforementioned bands stand out and then build on that with not only an influx of emotion and ingenuity, but with surprises that come out of left field plus things that build off of that, and you have The Reticent.

This band is centered around the music of Chris Hathcock. In fact, pretty much all of the instruments and vocals on the albums is done by him, except for certain rare instances. However, because of the huge demand for the band to perform live, there is a full line-up that does all of the touring and live shows. But this is much more that just your typical artist-recording-in-the-living-room type project. It has stellar and professional production, so don't concern yourself with that. Before this album, however, I had never really heard of the band, and to be honest, I haven't heard any of the project's other albums either. All I know is that this album is quite amazing, so much so, in fact, that it is one of my top 5 albums for 2020.

"The Oubiette" is a 100% concept album in every sense of the word. That's another big plus that it has going for it. It's theme is quite heavy though, that is, the story of Henry and his emotional journey into the 7 stages of Alzheimer's Disease. This is quite a personal subject for Chris Hathcock and you can definitely tell, that is why this album hits you as hard as it does. The emotion and feeling of loss is authentic here. The fact that it all takes place as through the mind of the individual instead of an outsider looking in even makes it that much more impactful. As you go further and deeper into each stage, the album gets more emotional and real.

Each track (there's 7 in all) represents a progressive stage in the main character's disease. There are outside voices (nurses, doctors, family, etc) that the protagonist hears along with other sounds, and it is noticeable how threatening they can be, even though some might be everyday sounds. The lyrics represent thoughts and incidents that happen. Chris' vocals in the beginning are quite easy to listen to, but even as the first song progresses, there are incidents of "growling, yelling" vocals, not much, just enough to put you at unease. Also, the music is quite good, moving from smooth to heavy, transitioning easily along, at first staying in a more "accessible" style. There are plenty of surprises thrown in everywhere, things you might not expect to hear from a "typical" progressive band, and that will keep you interested. I don't want to give away too many surprises thought, just expect sudden smooth passages that feature saxophone and the like. There are interesting rhythm passages in "The Captive", and even what begins as a quasi- ballad atmosphere, almost ambient, in "The Palliative Breath". You start to detect a feeling of things going "south" by the time you get into "The Dream", but you are still drawn in to the intrigue of the music. Up to this point, you've got a pretty good progressive metal band with occasional bursts of energy and whatnot.

Then you get to "The Nightmare". This is where the album enters "experimental" territory. I will warn you that this track gets quite loud by the end and there is a lot of "dirty" vocals throughout, but that is where this concept is leading, and it is carried out expertly, sucking you in slowly before you notice that all hell has broken loose. At the end of this track, I always feel out of breath. If you listen to the tracks all the way through, you'll know what I mean. You can't skip around this album and expect to get the same experience. The title track appears next, "The Oubliette". After the mind-melting climax of the previous track, this one comes at you quietly, yet that feeling of unease is there now more than ever. By now, you know you are in the sufferer's head, and it's sad and scary. Anyone that has experienced a loved one that has suffered from this disease will know as I did. It makes you want to cry for the individual because you can imagine this is how their head feels as the disease comes to it's fatal closing act. Yet, it is all so strangely beautiful as life's drama is so well enacted here. The last track isn't a title, it's just a flat line "________". The patient has fallen into dementia and you might expect a tech-heavy wall of sound, but that is not what you get. It's more of a sound of innocence of losing all coherency and memory. It's sad and it's scary. And it should convince us that there is so much we can still do for these poor souls that suffer this disease.

I've tried my best to explain why this album is as great as I say it is. Of course, others might not raise it so far up on a pedestal as I do, but I think this album and this project needs to be heard. It has mostly gone ignored in the Archives, but I hope that changes because I can definitely hear something different in this album, the type of thing that deserves to be recognized as being top-notch progressive music, in the same class as the bands I mentioned earlier, yet progressed to the next level. It is exciting to hear a band that is willing to stretch the boundaries of the genre as they do come along, but rarely. There are other bands that might not appeal to as many listeners, such as "Litany" or "Cryptic Ruse" that are quite excellent, but this is a project that might hit that sweet spot where people can access it and then discover the real strength of the music on their own. 5 stars for originality, progressiveness, emotional delivery and a realistic concept. Just about perfect!

Review by Necrotica
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I can't even imagine how horrifying it would be to have Alzheimer's disease. Having your fondest memories slowly disintegrate from your mind as your body starts failing sounds like one of the worst ways to die, and it would be equally hard for your family and friends to witness it. Through a loved one of mine who passed away years ago, I do sadly have first-hand experience with how it affects people mentally and physically; it's also for this reason that The Oubliette is one of the most emotionally resonant albums I've heard in a long time. While The Reticent's progressive metal style is pretty familiar for anyone who's listened to an Opeth or Soen record, it's the way they use this sound that makes them so unique and interesting. The record, which follows a bedridden Alzheimer's sufferer named Henry, is almost entirely written in a first- person point of view, offering the listener a chance to know what it's like to be immersed in such a devastating condition and struggle. Every track showcases Henry's condition getting progressively worse, the concept bolstered by both the heartbreaking lyrics and the even more heartbreaking spoken word clips that often connect the tracks to each other. But something else this album excels at is what I like to call "musical imagery," in which the music is in service of the concept and the lyrics rather than being presented independently. This is even true of the more technical showcases on the record, such as on "The Nightmare"; the brutal riffs and skittering off-kilter drums perfectly illustrate the fear and confusion associated with this stage of Henry's condition, and it really leaves you both on-edge and incredibly sad that this is what his life has come to. But this approach works just as well the other way around; the sparse minimalistic piano work that begins the title track speaks so much more loudly than words ever could, especially as it follows a really depressing vocal clip revealing just how "gone" Henry is.

The way this album is structured and composed is just so impressive, though. For instance, the very first song "His Name is Henry" is the only song that's presented in a third-person point of view, most likely to set the scene for the rest of the record before really immersing the listener into the rest of the experience. This is also evident by the more tenuous and lowkey instrumentation that kicks off this track; the whole thing feels very cinematic, as the music toys with dynamics in such a way that you could easily imagine the film that could accompany this album (although the band have been making music videos for it, so there's that). I know I haven't really brought up the actually technical aspects of the music very much yet, but honestly, that's the part that doesn't warrant as much attention here. In terms of how The Reticent sound sonically and compositionally, they don't exactly innovate much on The Oubliette; the musicianship is at an incredibly high standard, but the music is the usual combination of weird time signatures, varying dynamics, and switching between clean and growled vocals that you'd expect from this corner of the prog metal market. But again, what elevates this entire piece of work is how they integrate the overall narrative and emotional weight into the music. And nowhere is this more perfectly captured than on the final track, "_________". That blank title should pretty much tip you off on what's going on here, but having Henry (and metaphorically, the listener) drown in a lush orchestral number before he goes to sleep for a final time is both so poignant and so damn devastating at the same time. We all knew this was how the album would end, but it's still an emotional gut punch when it happens.

But that's exactly what The Oubliette is: an emotional gut punch. It's fitting that the title is another word for "dungeon," as it really feels like every successive song is widening and darkening the dungeon our narrator is trapped in mentally. As you might imagine, this is definitely not an easy record to digest and I don't recommend it as casual listening. But it's been a long time since a album has hit me this hard, and whether or not you're a prog or metal fan, I do highly suggest listening to it at least once for the sheer experience of it. These are the kinds of artistic heights that any modern concept album should aspire to reach.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Working with the very important element of a very talented Maynard James Keenan clone for vocalist, the experimental metal music here draws from influences and styles far more widely varied than TOOL have ever aspired to. The musicianship is top notch; the "band"'s collaborative tightness incredibly well synchronized, with musical dynamics often shifting all over the place, heavy to soft, complex to austere, but not so chaotically as to wear on the listener. In fact, it all makes total sense in the context of the album's theme: "an emotional journey into the 7 stages of Alzheimer's Disease."

Line-up / Musicians: Chris Hathcock - drums, percussion, bass, rhythm guitars, vocals With: James Nelson - guitar leads on 1, 3 Andrew Lovett - tenor sax on 2 Steven Wynn (Undrask) - additional guttural vocals on 5 Amanda Caines - female vocals on 6, 7; voice acting on 2, 4, 5 Rei Haycraft - voice actin on 2, 4, 5, 7 Juston Green - voice acting on 2, 4, 5, 7 Jordan High School Wind Ensemble - winds on 5, 7

1. "Stage 1: His Name is Henry" (9:46) with such a beautiful vocal opening, it's hard to believe this is going to be a metal album. The Maynard James Keenan similarities are quite pronounced in the forms used in the third minute alone. Very cool switch into melodic latin jazz at 3:30 is soon followed by austere piano-and-voice interlude. Then we're back into the heavy prog. Great drumming! Great guitar and bass play. This guy can really do it all! (18.25/20)

2. "Stage 2: The Captive" (6:00) solid metal music with 100% MJK vocal stylings within the first 90 seconds turning to death metal growls. Slowdown and saxophone solo over finger-picked electric guitar in third minute followed by stark piano and vocal. What an amazing voice! Great shift back to metal palette near the four-minute mark. Don't know why but I'm hearing some sounds and stylings familiar to me from the 1980s metal bands--Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Poison, Queensryche or someone. Then mixed with more Latin-like sounds & rhythms for the finale. (9.25/10)

3. "Stage 3: The Palliative Breath" (7:13) opens with Henry's daughter greeting a cheerful Henry but, sadly, not knowing who she is before the music begins. It's gently paced and beautifully set up with bass, and gently-picked electric guitar while Chris sings. This part reminds me of 1990s PEARL JAM--even the vocal. By the fourth minute we've shifted gears a couple times and moved into the heavier stuff, but never full metal--this is more melodic like Def Leppard or modern atmospheric metal masters Karnivool. Great lyrics--especially in the chorus sections--with nice multi-voiced harmonic vocals. Beautiful song. Really captures the mood of Henry's unwitting, insidious mental retreat. (14/15)

4. "Stage 4: The Dream" (11:47) multiple elegant electric guitar lines follow the opening passage from an interview with a young British-accented family member of an Alzheimer's patient. When Chris's voice enters its with a dreamy, heavily-treated plaintive vocal. At 2:17 the full band kicks in as multiple voices sing a bank of vocalise "ahh"s. Such dignity in this music; it's truly astonishing. Then, at 4:45, we take a drastic turn down another street--this one an instrumental section that is based on staccato instrumental play and near-Latin odd-tempoed rhythms--but it's over within a minute--replaced by a synth-dreamy sequence with an angelic female vocalist urging Henry to "come with me." In the eighth minute, then, we balloon out into full metal--though quite smooth and melodic (KARNIVOOL-like) soundscapes--while Chris's emotional MJK voice performs its magic. Those sections of gorgeous multi-voiced background vocalise are so effective! And I LOVE how the vocals are dialoguing about Henry's destiny. What a composition! I am a mess--an absolute ball of tears! One of the most powerful songs of 2020! (24/25)

5. "Stage 5: The Nightmare" (12:14) pure aggression, as expressed through an early Maudlin of the Well-like death metal style that is later enhanced by "orchestra." At the 2:30 mark we burst out of the chamber lull with some full-force prog metal. Quite theatric music (with full support of "orchestra") with a very powerful vocal performance la Ian Kenny. At the five-minute mark we return to more aggressive death metal stylings as the vocals turn to growls, but then we return to Ian Kenny-like smoothness at 6:00. Great music with an awesome, albeit brief, lead guitar solo. Then the eighth minute gets really weird as multiple styles and tempos get mixed together as the chaos inside Henry grows. At 8:50 we return to the great themes of the seventh minute. I love this music--especially the multiple guitar and vocal work! Incredible! I have to admit, the music--and the odd and unexpected interludes--is so fitting for this (sad and horrific) stage of Alzheimer's. And sadly, "There is no way out." (23.25/25)

6. "Stage 6: The Oubliette" (10:38) "locked inside himself" and "wanting it to all be over as quickly as possible." I can relate. With some eerie but so effective music to perfectly capture the goings-on both inside and outside the Alzheimer's patient at this advanced stage. With this music, I am strongly brought back to the powerful feelings of disorientation and isolation that Gabriel Lucas Riccio's 2013 album, Interior City provoke in me. (17.75/20)

7. "Stage 7: ___________" (6:10) over the sound of the pings and beeps of a fully-engaged hospital bed play the gorgeous and sad orchestral music with occasional vocal offerings sounding like a soloist from a boy's choir giving three minutes of cinematic "closure" as the life of Henry ends. James Newton, John Williams, or John Barry couldn't have done it better. Sheer perfection--totally capturing all of the emotions of that event. This is then followed by a rain-soaked speech with regards of the future impact of this "dreaded disease"--numbers and statistics rendered in an echoed voice that sounds like Steven Spielberg (while I know that it's not). (10/10)

Total time: 65:48

Though musically this may not be offering much that is breathtakingly new or boundary-pushing, it is amazingly successful in its support of the original concept "an emotional journey into the 7 stages of Alzheimer's Disease." This is by my reckoning an album deserving of all the accolades and superlatives one might hear and certainly the best heavy prog/prog metal album I've heard from 2020 and the most refreshing musical rendering of a concept since The Gabriel Construct's 2013 masterpiece, Interior City (which this reminds me of) or Tune's 2011 release, Lucid Moments.

A/five stars; a masterpiece of human expression and a truly worthy and amazing addition to any prog lover's music collection. Folks: This is what prog, music, and art are all about!

My pick for Album of the Year for 2020.

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Report this review (#2505915) | Posted by ssmarcus | Sunday, February 14, 2021 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Such an actively advertised new album The Reticent was presented by the respected colloborators of the progarchives website almost as a new revelation in the progressive metal genre. And indeed, the first composition is set up in a positive way. It has everything you need for a great start - rhythmi ... (read more)

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5 stars Absolutely incredible, without a doubt the album of the year. Five stars. If you wanna know once and for all what this album sounds like, it's like a mix between Porcupine Tree's Fear Of A Blank Planet and Opeth's Ghost Reveries. It features many soothing and mellow melodies, and heavy sections w ... (read more)

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