The rare artistry that is The Reticent’s On The Eve of a Goodbye
The greatest works of art are often meant to be consumed in one setting in order for the full impact of their power, artistry, and theme to be properly experienced and digested; Shakespeare’s plays, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, TOOL’s Lateralus, and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony are all prime examples. Some of these works are purposefully intended to be statements that must be consumed in one sitting and others simply work best when experienced completely at one time. Charlotte local Chris Hathcock and his progressive metal project, The Reticent, have composed a rare hybrid of the two types of complete statements mentioned above with, their forthcoming album that I had the honor of previewing recently.
On the Eve of a Goodbye is a deeply personal work for Hathcock. It serves as an artistic statement of catharsis that concerns the suicide of a childhood friend of his named Eve; but, like NIN’s The Downward Spiral, which is arguably a very similar cathartic statement on the futility of suicide (see Ninterpretations: The Downward Spiral), On The Eve of a Goodbye resonates with the listener in ways that allow the listener to step into Hathcock’s state of mind in a relatable and equally cathartic way. There’s as much frustration and passion for understanding and release in “The Confrontation” (a standout track on the album) as there is in Reznor’s “Closer.” Indeed, “The Confrontation” could easily serve as the lead single off the album if Hathcock intended such a thing. It is a complete musical and lyrical statement that stands on its own and displays a powerful symphonic component that is stunning.
“My idea was to approach writing this album more like a symphonic suite or tone poem” explained Hathcock when asked about his motivations behind the album’s chosen form of composition outside of the personal experience that inspired it.
“Another musical idea was to utilize a leitmotif through the album-a musical motive used throughout the album to tie it together,” elaborated Hathcock. Undeniably there are musical themes that recur throughout the album that, although they morph aurally from instrument to instrument, remain consistent and weave in and out of each individual song. These recurring themes form the basis of the identifying traits of the work’s two main characters. Both Hathcock himself and Eve each have musical themes that discern their individual appearances in the work outside of their identifying vocals or lyrics. It’s a beautiful touch that defines On The Eve of a Goodbye as much more than the typical musical narrative.
There is much to enjoy and be in awe of while listening to On The Eve of a Goodbye that does not require deep meditation or a crash course on musical theory though. Strip away all of the depth of composition and intent on On The Eve of a Goodbye and you still have an album of incredibly well crafted metal and rock worthy of headbanging or swaying with your girl to while experiencing the album live or through your headphones. On The Eve of a Goodbye is an album of great guitar riffs and intimate themes that is a rarity in the world of progressive rock and metal these days. A particularly special treat is the appearance of Amanda Caines, of the late Tattermask, in a special vocal role on the album. It’s great to hear her voice again in connection with great music. Her voice, and her band, are still sorely missed by many admirers of the Charlotte music scene.
On The Eve of a Goodbye is the kind of album that stays with you long after it has inspired, as well as rocked, you. Chris Hathcock and his band The Reticent have captured that universal moment of anguish and release that we all have experienced in some way and turned it into an album of music worthy of standing the test of time.
“I don’t think what I have created is in any way, shape, or form on the level of work by those composers (such as Beethoven, Stravinsky, or Barber-all composers that Hathcock lists as inspirations), just that I was inspired by them” said Hathcock when describing some of his compositional influences for On The Eve of a Goodbye. Hathcock’s album might not be Beethoven’s 5th, but it just might be the Beethoven’s 5th of progressive metal.