Detroit, Michigan’s very own Discipline has a long, storied history in the world of underground American progressive rock. Led by founding vocalist/keyboardist Matthew Parmenter, Discipline has released 4 albums since 1988 along with a smattering of live releases. 2017 brings about the band’s 5th album, Captives of the Wine Dark Sea, via the Laser’s Edge Group. Admittedly, I am not familiar with much of the group’s past effort. But, I’d like to think that gave me a fresh perspective on this new album without any residual baggage or expectations from the past.
Starting off with “The Body Yearns”, a nearly 10-minute excursion, the talent and ability of Discipline is blatantly apparent. There are no overly pretentious displays of upper-level speed or complexity. That said, there is enough emotion and deft musicality to drive home that this band is more than up to the task of creating some strong, layered music. Smoothly transitioning from the dramatic to the catchy, it loosely of reminds me of ‘Lamb’-era Genesis by way of later Spock’s Beard.
“Life Imitates Art” is a driving, punchy, slightly darker passage. Driven by a pounding rhythm section and an intense atmosphere, it keeps things more than interesting. It sounds like it would be a great one to hear live. This intensity carries over into follow-up instrumental “S” where the musicians get to show off a little. The slightly pop-tinged “Love Songs” gives off a toe-tapping vibe not dissimilar to “That’s All” (Genesis, again) while “Here There Is No Soul” drives a bit more, with a Tom Petty meets Toad The Wet Sprocket sense of underlying tension.
One of my favorite characteristics of this album is the up-front presence of piano. It’s very common to hear synth & organ in prog, but hearing such a strong piano presence adds an organic air to the proceedings. Chris Herin (of long-standing US prog band Tiles) offers some very tasty, and tasteful, lead work and additional sonic layers himself. These two elements really shine on the next instrumental track, the 6-minute plus “The Roaring Game”. Closing track “Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks” is simply brilliant, and a cracking way to close out a great album. At nearly 15-minutes, it is the very definition of complex yet catchy progressive rock. Superb hills and valleys all permeated by brilliantly delivered melody and melancholy.
Yeah, I can’t say enough good things about this album. It’s thoroughly entertaining and intriguing. The songs are fantastic and the production follows suit. Congrats to both band and label for such a great release.
Discipline’s latest album, Captives of the Wine Dark Sea, will be released on July 7, 2017 through Laser’s Edge. Preorder the album here.
Review by: Shawn Pelata