EPK – The Reticent – The Oubliette (Heaven & Hell Records) (2020)
For fans of Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Katatonia, The Contortionist, King Crimson
Publicist – Jon Asher – asher[@]ashermediarelations[.]com
Album Title: The Oubliette
Release Date: September 25, 2020
Label: Heaven & Hell Records
STORY ANGLES / FUN FACTS ABOUT THE BAND
1. Recording of the album was delayed four times due to a severe injury to Chris’ right arm (the deltoid bursa to be exact). As he performs all instruments on the record, he actually began lining up players to fill in for him as doctors told him he may be endangering his arm’s functionality if he didn’t take an extended break from playing. Luckily, rest allowed him to recuperate enough to complete the record. Although, the process was slowed because he was in pain the entire time. Every recording session began with him taking at least 800 mg of Ibuprofen to make it through.
2. The 54 person wind ensemble that performs on the album was entirely comprised of students of Chris Hathcock. By day he has been a director of bands at a high school in NC and now teaches audio engineering, music theory, and music production. In fact, he was nominated for the Grammy Music Educator of the Year Award in 2017.
3. Henry, the central character of the story of “The Oubliette,” is based on a relative of Hathcock’s whose name was Cyrus. The name Henry was chosen as a somewhat more universal name but also because Henry was one of the Alzheimer’s patients featured prominently in the documentary “Alive Inside.”
“First-rate Progressive Metal, technically high-standing and delivered with a very high level of genuine emotion and passion.” – Rock Music Raider, review of “On the Eve of a Goodbye”
“…The fact is On the Eve of a Goodbye is one of the best concept albums of recent memory” – Angry Metal Guy, review of “On the Eve of a Goodbye”
“This record is why I listen to music.” – The Gauntlet, review of “On the Eve of a Goodbye”
“The Reticent is progressive in the truest sense of the term, and remains one of the best-kept secrets in metal…Once again, The Reticent delivers a stirring and unforgettable album that will absolutely appeal to fans of Opeth (especially Damnation and Heritage-era Opeth), Porcupine Tree, Tool, A Perfect Circle, Katatonia and Anathema.” – Hard Rock Haven, review of “Le Temps Detruit Tout”
“The Reticent’s On the Eve of a Goodbye took me by surprise and proceeded to floor me in all its heartbreaking, sophisticated glory” – Teeth of the Divine, review of “On the Eve of a Goodbye”
“I can safely say that this album stands with any classic concept album that people will try and compare it with” – Power of Metal, review of “On the Eve of a Goodbye”
The Reticent is an NC outfit that is, as Hard Rock Haven put it, “progressive in the truest sense of the term.” Beginning as an atmospheric acoustic side project for mastermind Chris Hathcock while he toured with war-metallers Wehrwolfe, The Reticent has become a fully realized emotional experience rooted in progressive rock and metal. This was epitomized in the band’s critically acclaimed 2016 release on Heaven & Hell Records, “On The Eve Of A Goodbye” produced by Jamie King (BTBAM, The Contortionist, Scale the Summit). The album was a tragic autobiographical concept record that chronicled the day before, day of, and the day after the suicide of Hathcock’s childhood friend Eve. Critics and fans of the record alike were moved by the compelling narrative and heartrending performances. The Reticent has gone even further in their live performances to create an audiovisual emotional experience unlike any other by utilizing film, story-telling, and the sheer intensity of the music. Such unique and evocative performances have earned The Reticent a reputation throughout the American east coast as a stellar live show, taking in awards for their live performances from magazines like YES! Weekly. This intense live experience was achieved thanks to the incredible talents of The Reticent’s other members: James Nelson (Ozai), Cliff Stankiewicz (Abacab, Interstellar Overdrive), and Mitch Moore (Rites to Sedition, Inferion).
In 2019, Hathcock began preparing The Reticent for a new concept album and an all new stage show. The forthcoming album (again produced by King), “The Oubliette,” is another stirring autobiographical tale, this time of the tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease. Fans and critics alike are eager to sink their teeth into another intense emotional outpouring of progressive metal as The Reticent prepares to release new music and strike back out on the road.
“As with my previous album, I hope that ‘The Oubliette’ will provide listeners with a rich and emotionally challenging audio experience. This is undoubtedly the most ambitious record The Reticent has attempted to date. The hope is that listeners will be personally affected by the music on a deep level and that it may draw some attention to a disease that is frighteningly prominent but frequently poorly understood. There will be moments that are soothing and there will be moments that are overwhelming. The story I have to tell is not a happy one but it is an important one – and it is often through the pain that we find the most profound reflection and calls to action.”
“The Oubliette” is due out via Heaven & Hell Records on September 25, 2020.
Shared Stage with:
Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Seven Spires, September Mourning, Fates Warning
2020 – The Oubliette
2020 – Face To Black (Metallica Cover) Single)
2016 – On The Eve Of A Goodbye
2012 – Le Temps Detruit Tout
2008 – Amor Mortem Mei Erit
2006 – Hymns for the Dejected
The album as a whole:
“The Oubliette” is a progressive metal concept album focused on Alzheimer’s disease. The album follows the journey of an old man named Henry (based upon a relative of songwriter Chris Hathcock) as he descends through the seven stages of Alzheimer’s. He doesn’t know where he is or why he’s there. He doesn’t remember his wife is dead. He doesn’t recognize his son. Step by step the disease takes his memories, his ability to speak, his ability to walk, his ability to breathe. The music of “The Oubliette” traverses styles as divergent as jazz and black metal all within the framework of emotionally driven progressive metal. With each track sonically independent from its predecessor, the album moves the listener from experience to experience, vague memories to dreams and nightmares all toward its heartbreaking finale.
Track by Track explained:
Stage 1 – His Name Is Henry
● Stage 1 introduces us to Henry, a kind and warm man who is yet unaware that he’s been left at a nursing home. He assumes it’s all a mistake but begins to worry at all the unfamiliar faces passing by. The music starts out with Henry’s hope represented by the dulcet major sonorities yet the successive meter and key changes act as an omen of the tragedy awaiting Henry in this place. Elements of swing and latin music decorate the progressive soundscape representing Henry’s fun and hopeful mindset.
Stage 2 – The Captive
● As the track starts, Henry hears the orderly instruct him to return to his room as marching drums cadence him to get moving now! Now convinced that he is being wrongly imprisoned and believes his wife is being kept from him, Henry begins to oscillate between anger and despair made all the worse by the fact that he still doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. Decidedly aggressive death metal spearheads the track before Henry’s anger falls into a defeated frustration represented by the pensive midsection.
Stage 3 – The Palliative Breath
● Henry has brief moments of clarity when he realizes that “holes are deepening in his mind” and he vaguely grasps some of what’s happening to him. More calm and reflective the music echoes the patience that the doctors urge. The beautiful thoughtful acoustic opening gives way to powerful progressive rock, calm folk, and driving metal all to the conclusion that Henry’s best is long behind him.
Stage 4 – The Dream
● Disassociating further from the world around him, Henry retreats into fantasy and dream. There he is free, there he is reunited with his beloved wife. The music comes in odd waves as it sets the scene of a blurred dream with soundscapes reminiscent of Pink Floyd or King Crimson. Ever intensifying the music builds towards a crescendo as at last Henry realizes all he sees is not real and he then falls from the clouds and is plunged into…
Stage 5 – The Nightmare
● The disease itself becomes an infernal tormentor of Henry. Believing he is in fact in Hell, Henry hears the mocking screams of the disease telling him it will take everything from him – his mind, his hands, his legs, his eyes, his breath. The pitiless demons torturing Henry are represented by the frenzied black metal that surges the track forward. The inclusion of a full wind ensemble appears to announce the grandeur of Hell itself as the track relentlessly assaults Henry reminding him “There is no way out” as the track overwhelms the listener in the horrifyingly chaotic conclusion.
Stage 6 – The Oubliette
● Starkly contrasted with the Hell in Henry’s mind, is his motionless husk of a body cemented to a hospital bed. No longer able to communicate in any way, Henry realizes he is in a prison within a prison within a prison. First, this place – the hospital. Then, his body – now unable to serve him at all. Now, his mind – where he is trapped with no memories to comfort him and no way to alleviate his confusion or his suffering. The doom metal chorus contrasts starkly with the quiet and sullen guitar that etches the thoughts of Henry as he weakly insists he is still awake within this corpse and he desperately wishes to be set free. His voice shivers and cracks as he begs silently, “please.”
Stage 7 – ________
● Henry hears a nurse whisper to him to “Sleep, now.” The words echo through his mind as his body begins to at long last shutdown. The wind ensemble breathes with him – in then out – before soaring as he feels the bonds of pain slipping away. The word “Sleep” seems to cascade into eternity as all grows quiet before we are snapped back to his hospital room accompanied only by the sounds of machines alerting us to Henry’s demise. The flat line runs and runs because as he forgot, so too was he forgotten. After a while, the rain pours and we hear the admonition of a doctor warning of the epidemic – Henry’s fate coming for millions. [The subtitle of the track is stylized to represent a flat line]
Album Title: The Oubliette
Release Date: September 25, 2020
Label: Heaven & Hell Records
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)
Album Length: 1:03:50
• All songs performed by: Chris Hathcock (all instruments and vocals) except for:
Lead guitar solos by James Nelson
Tenor Sax by Andrew Lovett
Female Vocals by Amanda Caines
Additional Gutturals on Stage 5 by Steven Wynn
Voice acting by Juston Green, Amanda Caines, and Rei Haycraft
Symphonic Winds by the 2018-19 Jordan Wind Ensemble conducted by Chris Hathcock
• All songs written by: Chris Hathcock
• Produced by: Jamie King and Chris Hathcock
• Mixed by: Jamie King
• Mastered by: Jamie King
• Album Artwork by: Chris Ferguson
• Chris Hathcock is a member of ASCAP
Album Band Line Up:
Chris Hathcock – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Vocals, Additional Percussion
James Nelson – Lead Guitars
Live Band Line Up:
Chris Hathcock – Vocals, Guitar
James Nelson – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Cliff Stankiewicz – Bass
Mitch Moore – Drums