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Discipline - To Shatter All Accord CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.19 | 633 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars When I read on PA's forums that Discipline would be releasing a new album after 14 years of studio silence, it quickly jumped to the top of my "anticipated albums" list. I have always regarded "Unfolded Like Staircase" to be one of the prog masterpieces of the 90s, and I was thrilled that a band I never thought would release another album was, in fact, going to do so. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as prog is littered with examples of bands coming back after a long break and releasing a sub-par, probably ill-advised album that sits apart as an ignored, better forgotten part of their discography.

Well, "To Shatter All Accord" is not one of those examples. Discipline have come back with an album that not only holds its own against their earlier work but may actually supersede it. The songwriting here is more refined then it ever has been, and with "To Shatter All Accord" Discipline injects just enough new and innovative material in to make the album sound fresh and new without losing any of their old magic.

"Circuitry" begins the album, and it is immediately apparent that Discipline has not forgotten how to capture their sound. However, as the song progresses I can hear some definitively new elements; there are some piano passages that (to my ears at least) sound very different than anything that appeared on either of their previous albums. "Circuitry" is incredibly dynamic, which is great, as I feel often prog bands use shorter songs as an excuse to write more commercial material, which is definitely not the case here. A stellar opener that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Discipline has not lost anything in the fourteen years since their previous, "Unfolding Like Staircase" was released.

"Circuitry" transitions very nicely into the next track, "When The Walls Are Down" which begins with a sedate piano and wind part but wastes no time in launching into a rocking guitar riff. I have always thought that Matthew Parmenter's voice had a passing resemblance to Peter Hammill's, and on this song the resemblance becomes uncanny. "When The Walls Are Down" is a great rocker and a great song, if a little less dynamic than "Circuitry."

"Dead City" is the shortest track on the album (though it's still a very respectable five minutes) and it's by far the poppiest. I actually get a bit of an 80s Rush vibe from this one (circa Grace Under Pressure), though that may just be me. "Dead City" also features an amazing guitar solo that sounds like it could easily have come off of "Unfolded Like Staircase." As I said before, this is one of the poppier songs, but that's probably a good thing because the next one is a monster.

"When She Dreams She Dreams In Color" is absolutely amazing. Starting with some delicate but moody piano and some sensitive vocals, the beginning of this track reminds me very much of "Now" from Matthew Parmenter's solo album "Astray." However, "When She Dreams?" quickly distinguishes itself with a hauntingly melodic "chorus" before going into a somewhat jazzy instrumental section. After that we get another intense vocal section before the track enters its monumental, seven minute closing section. Fully instrumental, the back half of this track is at times reminiscent of "Starless'" closing section, but it's overall more melodic then that. At the same time crushingly ominous and devastatingly beautiful, the track manages to make seven minutes of instrumental built over the same repeating chords, and more importantly make those seven minutes intriguing and consistently interesting. Some beautiful violin work features prominently and overall it's an absolute masterpiece of a song.

And after all this, we still have a 24 minute epic! In other situations a band might run the risk of exhausting their listeners, but Discipline is a veteran band that knows how to make great music, and "Rogue" is neither boring nor over-stimulating. Beginning with some classical- style guitar, the song quickly introduces a heavy riff which is itself soon followed by Parmenter's vocals. This first part of the track has a more angular, technical sound that again reminds me heavily of Van der Graaf Generator. The song keeps it ever interesting, however, by switching into a quieter mode that actually bears some passing resemblance to some late Beatles work! The influence is subtle but I can definitely hear it, which is interesting as I've never really heard any sonic resemblance to these two bands before. The rest of the song is brilliant as well, mixes styles and sonic landscapes to create a prog epic that can stand up there with the best of them and is probably even better than some of the (still masterful) epics on "Unfolded Like Staircase." The song closes by dropping down to just piano and vocals (something that Parmenter can pull off better than almost anyone else) before building back up and then fading out with a beautiful soundscape. Truly a tour de force.

With "To Shatter All Accord," Discipline have made a hands down masterpiece. I truly struggle to think of a better album that I've heard from this year, and it's been a very good year. To any who would claim that progressive rock is dead or dying, I hold up "To Shatter All Accord" as a shining example to the contrary.

Without a doubt my album of the year.


VanVanVan | 5/5 |


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