I’ll have to ‘fess up, that despite liking to intersperse my metal with a liberal helping of Prog, I’d never heard of Discipline until their new label The Laser’s Edge sent over ‘Captives of the Wine Dark Sea’ for review. This is despite the band having previously released four albums over the years on their own DIY Strung Out label, and having a sound that is both instantly familiar surprisingly fresh for any beard stroking progite out there.
‘The Body Yearns’ opens the album like long lost tape dug from an English country studio that had been sealed away for the last forty years; complex trippy lyrics are sung clean and high, synths and pianos wind through the track, presumably with some keyboard maestro playing them both at the same time in true Wakeman style, whilst guitars, bass, and drum weave through the mix, each instrument coming through sharply in the mix to ensure the listener can appreciate the many hours of practice each musician put into developing their craft. Stretching the whole over a nine minute plus span allows each element of the band to have their own platform; it is practically a mission statement for what is to come.
By comparison, ‘Life Imitates Art’, practically sprints past in a darker toned four and a half minutes, staccato singing and playing on the verses contrasting nicely to the drawn out delivery of the choruses, the follow up instrumental ‘S’ keeping up the pace. In contrast to the musical complexity of what came before ‘Love Songs’ is a gentle ditty, equal parts Ray Davies and Gilbert O’Sullivan in its quirky delivery (those who wear corpse paint un-ironically may well have to do some internet research to get those references). Despite being an album with a distinctly English sound, ‘Here There Is No Soul’ throws a strong element of Americana into the mix with a rocky twanging guitar, with hints of late era Supertramp springing to mind.
It is with the last two tracks of the album, the B-side for those who live for vinyl, that the band show off their obvious love for the likes of pre-pop Genesis and every era Yes. ‘The Roaring Game’ is a long winding instrumental where obvious admiration of Steve Hackett is allowed to flow through the medium of the extended technical, floating high on the musical ocean created by the rest of the band. ‘Burn The Fire Upon The Rocks’ is almost a distillation of a whole 1975 season of The Old Grey Whistle Test boiled down to one single fourteen and a half minute presentation. The track opens with a bit of funky guitar to get your flares flapping, before settling down for some full on Prog whimsy, extended, light vocals drifting laconically from the speakers, the whole building up layer by layer into a multifaceted burst of creativity that will have lovers of King Crimson nodding away appreciatively.
Whilst unlikely to appeal to those who blinker themselves with the grimm on the left and kvlt on the right, Discipline have in ‘Captives of the Wine Dark Sea’ delivered an album that speaks of a time gone by, where there was only one singles chart, one album chart, and rock and Prog albums would sit comfortably next to disco and funk on the same shelves in the record shop. Enjoy.