DISCIPLINE - Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea

Discipline - Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea

7 songs
45:37 minutes
***** ***
Laser's Edge


I am a huge fan of Seventies progressive rock, especially the darker acts like Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson. Anything proggy that came after the Seventies had a hard time to conjure the same magic than the genreís pioneers. But there is one rare exception. Discipline from the United States have been founded exactly thirty years ago, and had their biggest hit exactly twenty years ago with their third album Unfolded Like Staircase. Some live material followed, but we had to wait fourteen long years for its successor To Shatter All Accord, an equally great record. For their fifth longplayer, and their first on a record label, their fans only had to wait six years, which is quite fast for these guys.

Three of the band members are still there from the very beginning, but this time they changed guitarists, with Chris Herin from prog metal band Tiles filling in on six string duties. This makes for an occasional heavier sound, but all in all there have been not that many stylistic changes within the band. Especially the nearly ten-minute long opener The Body Yearns is one of the bandís trademark prog epics, carried by a melancholic piano melody and Matthew Parmenterís incredible vocals. Heís been compared in the past to Peter Hammill, and while there are certainly tonal differences between the two singers, both share a dramatic persona that is unparalleled, not only in the prog genre, but in the musical universe at last. The opener offers thus a prime cut of progressive rock that combines drama, braininess and a surprisingly catchy melody into an entity that we come across not often enough in the genre.

The following Life Imitates Art, while still being a very progressive track, also shows the band from its heaviest side so far. With a length of only four minutes, itís also atypically short for Discipline. The song comes with a memorable chorus and later even adds Beatlesque backing vocals. Another Łber-track from this divine band. Up next is S, a four-minute instrumental that shows the bandís King Crimson influence, circa 1973-1974. No wonder as the Discipline took their name from a King Crimson album, albeit one from the early Eighties. Love Songs starts with acoustic guitar and then gradually turns into a progressive-light ballad, reminding me of Supertrampís better days. This song is under four minutes long, just like the following and even shorter Here There Is No Soul, a very untypical rock song and honestly not the bandís strongest moment. The Roaring Game is another instrumental, this time six minutes long, and while it references some of the bandís earlier work, notably Dead City from their previous longplayer and is generally a pleasant track, one wonders if two instrumental tracks are not a little much, especially since the album concluded already after three quarters of an hour with the quarter hour long Burn The Fire Upon The Rocks, which starts a bit like Santana trying his hands on prog rock and then turns into all possible direction. Itís a very interesting track with a lot of twists and turns, but it doesnít have the focused genius of the opener.

In the past, Disciplineís albums were always about an hour long. I donít mind Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea being a little shorter, but feel disappointed that ten minutes are vocal-less numbers. With a vocalist as unique and exceptional as Matthew Parmenter, you just canít get enough vocal tracks. The album starts really great, is lagging a little in the middle (just too many short tracks following one another) and then ends in a reconciling way. Fans of Discipline will relish the good material, but those new to the band rather start with Unfolded Like Staircase, followed by To Shatter All Accord.

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