The Reticent – “On the Eve of a Goodbye”

coverI am always on the lookout for bands that aim to combine seemingly disparate influences. While influence is a difficult thing to truly surmount, especially if the sound or style of a particular artist becomes the focal point of a new band, some bands can just pull it off, and in their wake create something different and fresh. The Reticent do just that on “On the Eve of a Goodbye”, and quite frankly the results left me floored. This is an essential 2016 progressive metal release.

The first thing the listener will notice is that the dichotomy between the vocals and the music drive the flow of the record heavily. It is very vocal driven music, but is nevertheless dense, complex, and challenging from an instrumental standpoint. The emphasis isn’t on endless soloing, but instead on orchestrations and dynamics. The songs are long, and although they are melodic still require the listener’s attention in order to fully register. There are passages here that contain some of the most impressive progressive metal riffing and phrases of 2016, and the writing is extremely consistent and varied throughout. “The Confrontation” and “The Mirror’s Reply” are case in point; extremely multifaceted songs that are impressive in their scope and variety while also being technical and dynamic.

Vocally, the singer gives an impassioned and impressive performance. The conceptual story here seems to be telling a tale of loss, and the emotive vocal performance really sells the vibe. To that end, the vocal style choice is interesting because I kept coming back to a certain inflection and tone that is indicative of alternative rock/metal and that isn’t often implemented into more progressive music as it is here. Flavors from genre bands such as A Perfect Circle, Chevelle, and even Incubus seem to be on display here, but it really works and makes the presentation unique. This coupled with the tendency towards big riff driven hooks, soft acoustic and piano sections, traditional prog rock sounds, and even regular forays into very heavy, quasi-death metal territory make for an ever changing and interesting listen. I was never bored, and could rarely predict what was coming next.

“OtEoaG” shines in that it has something for every prog fans tastes. The band is always willing to change things up, and never rests on one style for too long. I was happy to see that after a more laid back section, the band picked up the heaviness right where I would have wanted them to, which demonstrates that they know the ebb and flow of their songs and exactly where they want them to go. The songs are experimental and toy with structure, but the music itself sounds assured and confident with what it aims to be. “The Decision” exemplifies this, featuring a great use of loud soft change ups and a really great vocal melody on the verse. Killer and exciting stuff, and these types of shifts and transitions are everywhere on this album, and executed with aplomb.

As the track-list ticked by, I found myself hoping that the band could stick the landing, and maintain the same sense of quality songwriting so prevalent on the first few tracks. The sense of impassioned writing and playing never lets up, and the later tracks (and especially the middle tracks) are phenomenal progressive workouts. Balance is achieved, and that makes the songs all the more exciting as they are always evolving into something new, while resting on a rock solid foundation. By the time the last track “For Eve” finished, a gorgeous medieval/celtic sounding piece that serves as a nice coda to the record, I knew that I had experienced something special, and the sense that this was created with passion and attention to detail permeates every riff and melody.

The Reticent have crafted a really impressive record in “On the Eve of a Goodbye”. It is everything a good progressive record should be. It is complex and creative in all the right ways, while being accessible enough and well written enough to stand up to the scrutiny and criticism often levied at prog metal by those who would claim it’s just a shred fest. What we have here instead is poised and intelligent music that begs repeat listens and reflection. A great collection of songs and a must listen.

Score: 9.5/10

Tracklist:

  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 Mirror’s Reply
  10. The Postscript
  11. 2 Hours Left
  12. The Decision
  13. Funeral For A Firefly
  14. The Day After
  15. For Eve

Label: Heaven and Hell Records
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thereticentmusic

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