It's been three decades since US prog rockers Discipline came to be. In 2017, multi-instrumentalist Matthew Parmenter remains from their inception, and has been credited as responsible for vocals, keys, violin, rhythm and acoustic guitars, and tambourine on this new album, 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea'. Two other longstanding members are also present - drummer Paul Dzendzel (since 1991) and bassist Mathew Kennedy (since 1988). Tiles' Chris Herin joined Discipline's ranks in 2014 for lead/rhythm guitar duties. And this quartet have a richly layered and expansive sound on what is their first studio album since 2011's 'To Shatter All Accord'... which, in turn, was their first for fourteen years. Seems these guys are far from prolific with their recorded output and in no rush whatsoever to release new material. To be honest, this is my first encounter with the band's music but, if the rest of their albums are as good as 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea', they're very much about quality over quantity.
In general, the songs on 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea' are characterised by a storytelling vibe. Theatrical persuasions, which can be largely heard in Parmenter's ever so calming vocal delivery, infuse songs with a discernible narrative edge. Combined with the wonderfully composed and articulated melodies and the 'gentle' feel to proceedings, where the songs have been given enough breathing space in their arrangements and execution to develop on their own narrative terms, it's easy to become immersed in Discipline's musically intriguing world. Two instrumental pieces ('S' and 'The Roaring Game') are also included and, for me, this is where the band's axiomatic skill as narrative instrumentalists really comes to the fore. With no storytelling vocal or theatrically delivered lyrics to fall back on, they succeed in conveying such a vibe purely through the combined emotional power of first class performances on their instruments.
British producer Terry Brown, who's previously worked extensively with Rush, as well as the likes of Fates Warning, Voivod and Tiles, is the knob twiddler responsible for the magnificent mix on this very nice sounding record (Parmenter, himself, produced and engineered). All instruments have perfect clarity in the mix, and combine into a solid whole. There are, of course, some standout performances and solo spots, but the potency of Discipline's music is conveyed through an ensemble of talent. While there's no invigorating prog dynamic to be found here, 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea' is all about slow-burning emotional immersion. All in all, I'd describe Discipline's latest as quite a delight. Yes, delight, I think that word encapsulates the album quite well.
CAPTIVES OF THE WINE DARK SEA
Review by Mark Holmes
7th July 2017
1) The Body Yearns
2) Life Imitates Art
4) Love Songs
5) Here There Is No Soul
6) The Roaring Game
7) Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"While there's no invigorating prog dynamic to be found here, 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea' is all about slow-burning emotional immersion."