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4 stars A good progressive band demonstrates technical instrumental skills. A superior progressive band has that combined with a good and unique singer. Discipline is in the superior range. There are so many good bands out there, but usually when it comes time for the singing, it narrows my list of the "superior" bands. Discipline is one of those bands that combines awesome musicality and unique vocals from Matthew Parmenter.

"Circuitry" and "When the Walls are Down" have been in the Discipline catalogue for a while, but finally get studio versions. They both are awesome. The other songs are brand new to me and are very impressive. "Rogue" is the new epic masterpiece that every prog fan should hear.

There is something engaging with Matthew Parmenter's voice. It is unique, melodious, emotive and draws you in. It's not a power voice like Daniel Gildenlow, but can be equally emotive. Guitarist Bouda is the Buddha of guitar gods. Could he be the most underrated guitarist of the prog world? What a unique clean tone!

Is it better than "Unfolded Like Staircase"? I think they are equal in quality. There are excellent aspects in both albums. It is much better than "Push and Profit" I think. The only thing is I wish they did a studio version of "Mickey Mouse Man" but maybe it didn't fit in with the more "serious" songs.

I can't say enough of Discipline. Get this album if you like good music combined with awesome vocals!! The production is also excellent.

Report this review (#558421)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars What an extremely pleasant surprise to see that after a gap of fourteen years Discipline had released a new album. Their second album in particular, Unfolded Like Staircase is highly regarded amongst a small but discerning group of prog fans and they are going to be delighted with To Shatter All Accord.

An album of only five tracks but it does include a twenty four minute epic. Each track compelling in its own right from the guitar dominated one two opening of Circuitry and When The Walls Are Down, the simpler and melodic Dead City through to the final two which captures them at their most inventive. When She Dreams She Dreams In Colour really bring to mind the Van Der Graaf Generator comparisons they're no stranger to. The haunting opening dominated by dark piano work and some wonderfully subtle jazz drumming give way to more bombastic playing. A long drawn out coda will keep mellotron fans happy and a melancholic violin solos over a slow and simple rhythm. This is not the norm however as Discipline are masters of working very effectively in more complex time signatures, demonstrated on the album as a whole and on the closing track Rogue. It's the highlight on an already excellent album. A jaw dropping musical ride, moving from powerful bombast to subtler interludes with some great hooks, particularly around half way when a fantastic Hammond and guitar driven riff really locks in to a compelling groove after a slow build. The band play brilliantly, as they do throughout and Mathew Parmenter's theatrical vocal delivery is superb.

A brilliant return for Discipline then. If you haven't heard them and like your symphonic prog on the dark side you can't afford to miss out on this excellent album. Powerful stuff indeed.

Report this review (#568319)
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Now that was a surprise! After only two live albums after 1997, this one was beyond expectation (same story with Omnia Opera by the way).

The band is back with the same line-up (never changed really) with their third album, which consists of 5 tracks in 57 minutes of superb progressive rock. From the beginning till the end the album stands on the same level as "Unfolded Like Staircase" (a masterpiece in my opinion). There is nothing to show that a day has passed since 1997. Parmenter sings and plays better than ever. His vocal lines are terrific, with the semi-narrtive parts, reminiscent of Hammill, and an occult element enhanced by the band's flowing melodies and Bouda's fantastic solos.

"Circuitry" is the pefect introduction to the album with its building melodies. It seems as an intro to "When The Walls Are Down", a prog rock epic, a piece of greatness written on the voice of Parmenter and his dramatic, poetic performance. "Dead City" is the album's simplest song, with an amazing solo by Bouda (fantastic Latimer element here) and groovy rhytm section. "When She Dreams She Dreams in Color" is the slowest song on the album. Parmenter presents one of the best VDGG influenced pieces of music. His sentimental and melodic voice reminds what only Mr. Hammill is capable of: a mix of sweetness, introversion and despair."Rogue", a 24 minute track, is a solid piece of art, which sounds as the natural step after "Unfolded Like Staircase".

The main influences in the album (among many other british prog rock bands) are: Yes (especially some of Parmenter's lines remind of Anderson), Genesis (mainly the keys and the compositional elements) and most of all (as already said) VDGG. It is really amazing that these guys are Americans.

A masterpiece, recommended to all fans of progressive music.

Report this review (#569635)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9.2/10 - They returned!

For many years a new album from Matthew Parmenter's DISCIPLINE had been not only a wet dream for almost any Prog fan, but also a thing unreal, since Matt was busy with his solo career (pretty close to what he was doing with DISCIPLINE though). But this Autumn brought us this jewel, this dare-I-say Masterpiece, a real treat for everyone who likes his Prog to be dark, moody, song-based but not too simple.

Time has done nothing to DISCIPLINE's music: I haven't heard any electronic samples that could ruin their beautiful 70s-alike atmosphere, just better production and mastering. Bouda's recognizable guitar tone, flashing rhythm-section and Parmenter's dubbed vocals along with his keyboard work which is never bombastic but always in-its-place - all DISCIPLINE's aces strike you with their brilliance just when the first track starts off. You could hear 3 tracks from album's 5 before with "When The Walls Are Down" being my long- time favourite: a creepy story about loneliness and insanity, reoccuring themes for Parmenter's dark poetry. This one, with both "Circuitry" (amazing and powerful opener known since DISCIPLINE's live album) and "Dead City" (some joyful melodies detected but unexpected!), serve for songs here, while two closing tracks, "When She Dreams She Dreams in Color" (with its long atonal brooding coda) and "Rogue" are Epics. Since I've seen "Rogue" live on MySpace I wanted to get my ears on its studio version - and here it is! I may have lost a major part of my interest for Prog now, but from where I'm standing (and judging from how many epics I've heard in last 3-4 years) "Rogue" is THE BEST PROG EPIC since IQ's "Harvest Of Souls", easily! Every note is on its own place, every section has its tension, and some lines are just as brilliant as Music can just be!

Now, final words for those who still consider DISCIPLINE to be GENESIS/VDGG/KC clone or something. Just check Parmenter's solo work, where he does all this darkness and depth by his voice and his guitar/piano only! Surely they're INFLUENCED, they bear some similarities and they HAVE to stuck in this Retro-Prog hole in order to be heard, but for me DISCIPLINE are the same way great and classic as any other legendary band you would compare them to. I quit listening to 99% of these-days-Prog nowadays for its bleak copycat- like nature, but DISCIPLINE remains one of my all-time favourite bands ever along with, say, THE MARS VOLTA, TOOL, GY!BE, ALICE IN CHAINS, DRIVE LIKE JEHU, THE CURE and JOY DIVISION.

Report this review (#570786)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one band with an unfortunate case of split-personality. While their (few) studio albums present some great music, IMHO, there is always something lacking--something 'second rate'--in the engineering/production of those albums. In concert, live, the band brings an energy, a sound, a rawness, an emotional immediacy, a here-and-now type of feel to their music which is so much more, so much bigger, so much more vibrant and engaging, so much more powerful--the word 'devastating' even comes to mind--than their studio recordings. Front man Matthew Parmenter's show, his body language, his engagement in the act of embodying the persona of his lyrical message is so powerful--the Parmenter-audience connection is so necessary for the full effectiveness of his music, that the studio albums pale in comparison. A Discipline/Matthew Parmenter studio album is like seeing a two dimensional painting on a museum wall. A live performance--even a live album--is like experiencing a fifth dimensional out-of-body wet dream. I'm glad Discipline decided to try to 'preserve' studio versions of some of their long-time (and hitherto un-studio-recorded) live favorites. Unfortunately, for those of us who have gotten used to seeing MP/Discipline perform them live, these are static silhouettes of the live versions.
Report this review (#571329)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It is a great pleasure for me to bring up Discipline, American prog prodigy led by the unforgettable "Acid Mime" Matthew Parmenter, and not to do as a retrospective of their short but relevant 90s discography ... but to discuss their brand new album " To Shatter All Accord "! But first let's take a brief look into the American side of prog revival in the 90s: while in the country of Jimi Hendrix and Edward Hopper avant and neo were the most recurrent prog styles, Discipline's line of work followed a peculiar stance, forged through an eclectic mix of retro and neo-psychedelia. Though the band's legacy was not Plentiful, their "Push & Profit" and "Unfolded Like Staircase" albums and their live performances left an indelibly stamped image in the collective memory of the late progressive-loving generations. And now, here they are with "To Shatter All Accord", with the band returning to their "Unfolded" line-up. This comeback album includes three songs the band played in its early years, even when it was a quintet. Now, 'Circuitry' and 'When The Walls Are Down ', true testimonies of the band's theatrical anguish and heartbreaking madness as they appear on the "Live" DVD Live, meet their proper final studio versions of study. In fact, 'Circuitry' opens up the album with strength of character, mostly based on the combination of heavy guitar riffs and deceptively languid swing of the rhythm duo. When the piano occupies the central axis on a subject in 3/4, the song turns to solemnity and gives way to a grim reflexivity, akin to that found in areas as diverse as Areknamés, Versus X and White Willow (for example), which in turn refers indirectly to the Van der Graaf Generator start. The musical idea his own circle closes with a return to the first motif, paving the way for the emergence of the next song, 'When The Walls Are Down'. This one states and imposes its particular presence from that beautiful piano and sax duo that comes before the opener's final organ chord disappears. The wall of sound is brutally powerful (something like Gnidrolog-meets-"Lizard" era KC), yet delivered with egregious finesse. This piece capitalized and streamlines the ominous intensity inherent to its melodic development, giving a little more color to the subject while exploring new depths of anxiety and density with a dark expression. After experimenting a little less than 14 minutes of continuous neurotic climax, 'Dead City' presents a more agile setting on an 11 / 8 tempo, producing a sound somewhat akin to space-rock while establishing family ties with neo- prog standard. However, stating that this is some sort of simplification would be totally inaccurate: on the contrary, it shows a very meticulous preparation of the piece's melodic development all the way toward a playful chaotic coda. So far, we've enjoyed 19 minutes of witty colorful progressive music Discipline-style. After all these years, the band does not show any signs of drowsiness or disorientation after the 14-year hibernation. There are still 37+ minutes music left from Matthew Parmenter & co., and that time scope is occupied by two mega-pieces: 'When She Dreams She Dreams In Color' and 'Rogue'. 'When She Dreams?' carries an ominous tone from the very piano-vocal entrance. Somewhere midway of "Godbluff"-era VDGG and "Rock Bottom"-era Wyatt. The jazzy cadence provided by the drum kit gives an effective dynamic marked by Parmenter's dark singing, and there is an air of permanent expectation that ultimately is sustained by an eerie violin solo during the long instrumental conclusion. It is this long conclusion which conceals the emotional distress revealed earlier in the last sung section, substituting the anger with sadness: the languid rhythmic architecture and the mellotron layers state a proper mixture of Anekdoten and classic KC, a very useful strategy when you need to construct emotional density and grim moods. 'Rogue' is the album's concluding marathon. Starting with a beautiful baroque-style prelude based on the acoustic guitar motif, the first main body is installed with a sophisticated rhythm pattern (alternating 7/8 and 4/4) that clearly states (once again) the VDGraffian and Hammillian modes that influence Parmenter's musical vision. Shortly before reaching the fifth minute's barrier, another central motif transports us to an aura of melancholy, but always embedded in the band's quintessential restlessness: when everything becomes more explicitly dense, the melodic development gains more intensity. A heritage from the 'Canto IV' suite? ? maybe, perhaps? Next is a sequence of two cacophonous motifs that bear a more mechanical tension, but instead of cooling off the overall mood, it really emphasizes it in terms of madness and passion. Parmenter's exacerbated vocalizations as a tormented ghost complete the robustness contained in the sonic architecture developed by the magnificent blend of guitar, organ, bass and drums (yes, a good listener must pay close attention to figure out that those demented sonic washes come from Parmenter's throats and not from his sax or violin). The current storm is steadily maintained, leading to an emotional climax of darkness that is as scary as it is inciting, just like a siren's is known to be lethal yet it is perceived as irresistible and enamoring. Once the storm is past, the calm of the shipwrecked survivor comes: in this specific song, it means that a slow 3/4 motif brings a stylized calm demeanor, as if balancing the idea of surviving a catastrophe. The ending guitar solo and the coda dominated by ethereal mellotron layers, based on the prelude's chord progression, give this suite a proper full circle. So, this was my opinion, a very positive opinion about this 2011 masterpiece of prog. In short: Discipline rules!!
Report this review (#581377)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#583007)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
5 stars I can't remember when or how I first heard of Discipline, but let's just say that it was it was somewhere in the Nineties. Back then I was stunned by the quality of the music that these guys were producing, and 'Unfolded like Staircase' should be in every prog lover's collection. But that was their last studio album, and came out in 1997. Since then there has been some live releases (if you can find a copy of 'Progday '95' on which they feature the grab it), but nothing new from the band. Singer Matthew Parmenter has released some superb solo albums, but when it came to light that the band were reforming in 2008 for NearFest the question would be would they stay together? Thankfully the answer to that is a resounding "Yes!" and Matthew (voice, mellotron and keys), Jon Preston Bouda (guitar), Mathew Kennedy (bass) and Paul Dzendzel (drums) have released a new studio album at last.

Only five songs (but one of these is more than 24 minutes in length), and two of these have appeared previously (in live versions), but I am very much in prog heaven. It is quite hard to describe the music of Discipline ? they always remind me of classic Genesis but actually sound nothing like them at all, while it is possible to hear elements of King Crimson, VDGG and a host of others but with some strident and at time almost dischordant guitars. Progheads aren't always the best at saying what they think about music, but the review of this album that appeared on is a delight ? in that Brian Watson says about the epic 'Rogue' "this is perhaps Jon Preston Bouda's finest hour. There's a fluidity to the playing that is truly a joy to behold. If this song was a girl I would not only ask it out. I'd marry it. I mean her. Yes, I love this song." It seems a tad picky that he gave the album only a 9/10 and I'm sure that this was because he doesn't think that it is quite as good as 'Unfolded'.

To be honest I'm not so sure ? this is prog with an edge, music that demands attention. It can never sit happily bubbling along in the background like Genesis, Floyd or Moody Blues. 15 minutes into 'Rogue' and the shrieks are genuinely un-nerving. There are long instrumental passages that allow everyone to shine and at the end of the album there is only one thing to do. Take a breath, put on the kettle, and play it again. Only this time just that little bit louder. If this album doesn't deserve maximum marks the nothing does. Sheer brilliance.

Report this review (#600583)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dark psychedelic prog rock from the US: I love it!

'To Shatter All Accord' represents my first encounter with US-based band Discipline. , and I have to say that it left me greatly impressed and I will most definitely check out their back-catalogue too. Nevertheless, I feel that a word of caution is needed here: I can easily see that a band like Discipline. is inevitably an acquired taste, and is bound to attract as many lovers as haters around the prog camp. Their sound is harsh, almost primitive, and they vastly rely on repetitive song structures to deliver the message of paranoia, isolation and alienation that permeates Parmeneter's lyrics. Obviously, this may not be up to everyone's taste. However, if you are attracted by the dark side of prog (as I am), then Discipline. is a band you should definitely check out. The most obvious influences here are VdGG and King Crimson, but Discipline. do have a life of their own as the songs on 'To Shatter All Accord' demonstrate. The playing is great throughout the album, very passionate and intense. Jon Preston Bouda is a fantastic guitar player (it's amazing how fresh and non-banal his playing is), the rhythmic section is as precise as it is warm and groovy, and Matt Parmenter is one hell of a singer and frontman.

The album opens with "Circuitry" (7/10), which the band seems to have chosen to promote the album and that you can listen for free on the band's bandcamp site. Ironically, this is the track that I like the least on this album. It is nevertheless an apt opener, with some nice piano and sax from Parmenter, and overall it sets nicely the mood for the album.

"When the Walls are Down" (9/10) is a true masterpiece. Its simplicity is almost disarming: it virtually builds on one crunchy guitar/piano riff introduced immediately after a gorgeously dreamy intro. But the tension it builds throughout its 7+ minutes is incredible, exploding in a fantastic coda where Parmenter's sax and Bouda's guitar deliver some great frenzied solos. Parmenter's vocal delivery is top quality, and the whole band provides a passionate and moving performance here. I can only imagine how splendid this must sound live.

"Dead City" (8/10) is another great song which provides a very different feel from the sonical madness of When the Walls are Down. Based on a funky rhythm, it offers some inventive guitar playing from Bouda and some charming and hypnotic melodies.

The album continues with "When She Dreams ..." (10/10). This is a fantastic song. It opens quietly with piano and voice painting some dreamy (very VdGG) melodies. It builds gradually and then bursts into an psychedelic drawn-out coda which contains some great mellotron strings and a long, creepy violin solo before ending abruptly.

The 24 minutes closer "Rouge" (8/10) is (not unexpectedly) the most challenging song here: I confess that I had to listen to it attentively a few times before I could fully appreciate it. Harsh, almost totally devoid of accessible melodies, the music suitably delivers the psychodrama depicted in Parmenter's lyrics. The song is divided into 10 scenes, which flow nicely into one another. The centrepiece (and climax) of the song is the trio of instrumental scenes VI (Trance), VII (Nightmare) and VIII (Solus/Recapitulation), with some fantastic soloing from guitarist Jon Preston Bouda, some great organ and mellotron and some hallucinate, nerve-wrecking vocalizations from Parmenter.

Overall, this is a fantastic release, albeit, as I said, one that may not be up to everyone's taste. For me, this is a serious contender for Album of the Year.

Report this review (#602446)
Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars Discipline return with a towering masterpiece that is a quintessential listening experience.

The first thought for me while listening to this album is where the heck have these guys been hiding? This album contains a musical feast for the ears with some astonishing musicianship and even harks back to the classic sounds of Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson and Yes. The album consists of 5 songs all with varying atmospheres and structures; from short to epic length. Matthew Parmenter is a very accomplished vocalist capturing an emotional resonance on each song. His keyboard work is exemplary especially the splashes of Hammond and swathes of mellotron. Jon Preston Bouda is excellent on guitars whether it be acoustic, rhythm or scorching lead breaks. Mathew Kennedy maintains a consistent pulsating bassline and the sporadic drumming of Paul Dzendzel is triumphant. Other instruments on the album are descants, saxophone sounds and violins.

The first track is 'Circuitry' that begins with a symbiosis of loud guitar riffs and wild sax sounds. I was immediately impressed with the transfixing power of the sound and Parmenter's vocals are as theatrical as Gabriel or Hammill. This was an excellent start and I was looking forward to hearing more.

On 'When the Walls are Down' the organ is a tremendous augmentation to the wall of sound. The dreamy sax using keys is a lonely sound until a crunching metal riff breaks the solitude. The vocals are an alto range following the melody and then a spacey glissando guitar is heard, similar to Hackett. The next riff is awesome and reminded me of early 70s alternative rock, particularly the riff of Toyah's 'Neon Womb'. There is a manic lead break heard over a cacophonous blast of music with all instruments turned up to 11. The intensity is jarring and there is no room for instruments to breathe exuding a type of musical ferocity.

'Dead City' begins with lead guitar swells and a polyphonic King Crimson 11/8 asymmetrical signature. The vocals are like vintage 70s psychedelic bands, and there is an infectious melody on the line "the city of the dead." Spacey textures abound and a Pink Floyd Gilmour like guitar solo follows. A radio controlled voice is heard as the sound grows powerfully. The dystopian city is given a voice as the music spins wildly out of control, chaotically bent out of rhythm until it is mercifully brought to a halt, capping off a sensational track.

'When She Dreams She Dreams In Colour" begins quietly with a minimalist piano and Parmenter is channelling Peter Hammil in his most contemplative reflective mood. The melody follows an odd time sig. this melody is highly memorable and will conclude with a repetitive chord structure that was the main thing I remembered after a break from hearing the album on first listen. As soon as that series of chords is heard on piano and later guitar it will jolt the memory. The serene peaceful atmosphere drifts on a wave of piano drawing the listener in deeper. The Hammill-esque vocals continue and then a sax sound adds a new colour to the tapestry. Interwoven in the music is the jazzy hi-hat cymbal tapping of Dzendzel. The piano plays in isolation for a while, joined by a clean melancholy guitar. The cymbal splash signifies the floodgates of sound are about to break open. The sound suddenly intensifies and a very dense and moody atmosphere ensues. It feels dark and ethereal as the violin begins to slice out the sounds of anguish and pain, like it is being tortured with knives. The violin is genuinely spine-chilling with its serrated cries of agony. Ominous guitar tones continue in a seductive hypnotic structure and cymbals splash accenting the next chord progression. A mellotron fills the soundscape that is evoking a sense of loss or regret. The haunting measured cadence is made all the more alarming when it suddenly cuts off after a cymbal splash. This was undoubtedly a mesmirising piece of music; a 7 minute coda that has genuine emotive power.

The last track is a colossal 24 minute multi movement suite in 10 sections, 'Rogue'. It begins with a lulling gentle acoustic picking guitar. Parmenter's vocals are multi tracked and sound jarring after hearing the extended music previously. The lyrical content is dark and brooding; "lest they smother you and break you in two." The inflections of darkness and light are apparent with a series of irregular time changes ranging from 7/8 to 4/4 and then to 3/4 and beyond. There is a vocoder effect on some vocals providing a psychedelic effect. The Hammond organ begins a staccato embellishment and then the signature spirals wildly out of control. The tension and release of the music is astonishing. A piano returns with a guitar and crystalline high octave vocals. A new shift in meter begins as a spacey string pad mellotron chimes in. As you drift along on this wave of ambience suddenly the time sig transforms again throws you off, as Bouda's guitar rocks hard. It feels more like Dream Theater or Riverside at this stage. Just as you lock into this groove, the time sig changes again and there are loud screaming wails generating a disconcerting apprehensive emotion. The music draws you in deeper down an abyss of sonic resonances and then you hit the bottom as the guitars are amped up with a Hammond organ grinding out a 70s vibe. Bouda's lead break is exceptional with uplifting soaring string bends and sweeps. A fractured two note crash down signifies a new change and Parmenter's vocals return "every memory scar and fantasy leads me back should I stray, and on and on." The concept of the song follows the adventures of a shipbound crew on the ocean encountering horrific sights and siren like creatures, or is it simply a metaphor for losing your way and searching for peace? You can make your own mind up. A church organ and angular lead guitar fire up and draw this epic to a satisfying musical conclusion.

At the end of Discipline's latest release I was left quite overcome by the intensity of the music. The band generate very organic music; at times technical and daring, but always inventive and unified. The massive epic may become one of the all time great epics along the lines of classic 70s prog or the more recent work of prog metal artists. The prolific fusion of symphonic tones and heavy guitars is an amalgamation that works and the band are able to move from mesmirising beauty to a cacophonic ferocity with alarming technical precision. This is one of the best albums of 2011 and is certainly making an indelible impression in the prog community, and will continue to do so as the band become discovered for the awesome music they generate. 'To Shatter All Accord' is an enthralling album with 5 tracks of immeasurable quality.

Report this review (#605433)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
5 stars I do believe i've just found my favourite album of 2011. Man this is so much better than I thought it would be despite the rash of 5 stars reviews this has been getting on here. "Unfolded Like Staircase" was an excellent album and a solid 4 stars for me, and I just figured this would be the same. Man was I wrong,this is so much better. VDGG certainly came to mind a lot throughout this disc. It's dark and Parmenter can certainly sound sinister when he wants to. There a few great mellotron sections as well but really this is mainly a dark beast and one i'll be riding on a lot.

"Circuitry" has a nice heavy soundscape with prominant organ as the vocals join in. It settles with piano as the bass and vocal melodies help out. It's building and the sax comes in too.Killer stuff. Ripping guitar after 4 minutes then the vocals return a minute later. "When The Walls Are Down" opens with piano and sax in this laid back but dark passage. It kicks in quickly though. So good. Vocals join in and he's spitting out the lyrics with contempt in a Hammill-like manner after 2 1/2 minutes. Such an emotional track. "Dead City" has a cool sound to it especially the guitar, then the vocals join in. The guitar solos after 2 minutes as the background becomes intense, then back to the earlier sound with vocals.

"When She Dreams She Dreams In Color" features percussion, piano and reserved vocals. This reminds me of the DISCIPLINE of old. Sax ater 3 1/2 minutes as it seems to be slowly building. It kicks in before 5 minutes. A dark calm arrives a minute later. It's building then we get mellotron after 7 minutes. Emotion. Violin 9 minutes in and the repetitive rhythm continues to the end when it stops abruptly. "Rogue" is the 24 minute closer. Acoustic guitar to start then electric guitar and vocals take over just before a minute. Drums then piano as it becomes very VDGG-like. It settles after 5 minutes until it kicks back in before 7 minutes with power. Mellotron after 8 1/2 minutes as it settles back. Nice. The guitar solos after 10 minutes tastefully. It's building then here we go 12 minutes in. Huge bass follows that is ground-shaking. It's so good here as they seem to jam. Prominant guitar after 15 minutes. Vocals are back after 18 1/2 minutes. A calm 20 minutes in and reserved vocals join in. Lazy guitar follows then organ as the song eventually fades out.

This album is an absolute pleasure to listen to. This is MY music.

Report this review (#613420)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

Now yes. A well-priced album which I have no complaints.

Fourteen years after his last album, "Unfolded Like Staircase", the semi-unknown American symphonic rock band Discipline returns to the scenes. And wow, that return. To Shatter All Accord is the album that marks the back and has proven itself a prime candidate for the "best of the year." At the time of writing this review he is No. 1 of 2011, and unlike Visions or Grace For Drowning (who have held this position) I think the fact that this album is such an honor to get well deserved. After they came back with an album that is Symphonic Prog at its best!

But this is not that Symphonic Prog unapologetically retro it has become so common in recent times. Yes, you will find nods to Genesis (especially the use of the organ) and Yes (the smoothness of the piano and some passages) - the names of the two major symphonic prog - but here too there are influences of two main eclectic prog names: King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator. KC by your polyrhythmic experimentation and VdGG by frequent use of sax, piano heavy and even occasional jazz-fusion. The voice of lead singer Matthew Parmenter seems the junction of the smoothness of Jon Anderson with the theatrics and drama of the two Peters: Hamill and Gabriel.

So the songs.

Circuitry serves as the introduction to the album, starting bluntly, a basic guitar riff leads us to the main melody, with vcais of Parmenter and a basic body. but at 1:40 the music changes to a piano ŕ la Yes and this section continues until the four minutes, when it returns to its start with a much more aggressive guitar leading the song to a grand finale, ending it with a sustained note organ ...

... which leads to When The Walls Are Down. Here things get even more interesting. The music has two distinct sections that alternate (the structure can refer to I Want You (She's So Heavy), by the Beatles) and each one is a gem. At the end of the song goes to a fantastic climax, which is growing and becoming more powerful. Simply masterful!

Dead City is the shortest of the album, with 5 minutes. However Discipline what makes these five minutes are not many bands in a entire album (seriously!). The guitar at the beginning is something of a style King Crimson, but the song evolves into something stronger, and is definitely the most "happy" of album.

When She Dreams She Dreams in Color however is a pit of gloom and darkness. The first part is sort VdGG - Parmenter's voice more than ever referring to Hamill and percussion performed in jazz - but there for five minutes the music is a coda of another world. God, the guitars, bass, mellotron and violin asphyxiating you just take this reality! Fantastic!

Things get even more with the epic Rogue. A monster 24 minutes which is obviously one of the best of the year (not just its end pleases me very much, because I think somewhat anti- climactic). Throughout its various sections music reflects many influences - there's a section here that somehow reminds me Transatlantic - but always remains standing (as I said I dislike his final sentences), and obviously the highlight of the album.

Given all written here, I can only say that this is so far the album of the year for me, along with A Dramatic Turn of Events and Testimony 2. Five stars, and Discipline will give us more masterpieces like this!

Report this review (#622895)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Like Anglagard, Discipline is a highly acclaimed yet less than prolific band, and like Anglagard, Discipline is an incredibly talented bunch but a group that has yet to truly impress me. As with the aforementioned band, their compositional erraticism vexes me. However, there is more coherency to this album than there was with Unfolded Like Staircase. The Van der Graaf Generator resemblance is uncanny most of the time, sometimes becoming a "better" version of Peter Hammill's crew than they were.

"Circuitry" Fans of Led Zeppelin may well love this initial riff. The piano passage adds depth alongside some vocals. Lead guitar and saxophone trade off over heavy riffs in this raunchy rock opener. Were Van der Graaf Generator a heavy progressive rock band, this would be what they would sound like.

"When the Walls are Down" Organ, piano, saxophone and bass lead into a quieter section. I am disappointed because it isn't explored naturally- it is but a tacked-on introduction. A heavy riff comes in with piano underneath. I don't like this song much; it's too grating on the ear, both instrumentally and vocally.

"Dead City" Adopting neither progressive rock charm nor pop rock catchiness, this song is weirdly orchestrated and only somewhat appeals to me. Whereas the vocal section is a bit fun, the jarring, cacophonic instrumental part at the end is excruciating.

"When She Dreams She Dreams in Color" This is the greatest piece on the album, even if the slow, sleepy beginning fails to capture my attention for long. The instrumentation is clever, combining jazz and symphonic rock in a subtle way. The song takes a funky edge for a bit before growing louder, becoming a juddering and unpleasant section. A desolate piano takes over then before a single guitar relieves it. This begins the already celebrated coda of this piece. It is full of Mellotron and spirit. The repetitive rhythm accentuates an incredible ending that begins with Mellotron and leads into a wonderful saxophone and some wild violin. It may be Discipline's most moving moment.

"Rogue" Nylon guitar introduces the longest and final piece. The vocalist wails and snarls over a grungy riff. More than any piece on the album, this one most closely resembles Van der Graaf Generator, only centered around electric guitar. Speaking of six strings, there is a great deal of guitar work, both with respect to backing riffs and lead work, helped along by a complementary organ. The bizarre warbling and caterwauling is unappealing to me, making the second half of the lengthy instrumental middle section almost unbearable. Gentle piano and vocals lead the listener through a spacey transition to a concluding guitar solo backed by solid organ chords.

Report this review (#630096)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

"To Shatter All Accord" is one of those rare albums that comes from the heart instead of the head.

One of the most fascinating and loved bands of modern Progressive are Discipline, the band that released "Unfolded like Staircase", an album that was praised to the point where it is now a legendary cult album for Prog fans. "To Shatter All Accord" is their first album after ULS, thus this 2011 release was highly anticipated by many people. Once again, it seems that Discipline prove to the world how Progressive Rock is still mightily strong, as it was back in the golden era.

It is known that this band isn't really one that likes to do musical revolutions: their style is pretty standard Progressive Rock, with a quasi-retro feeling. There's plenty of organ, decent amount of sax playing, Peter Hammill inspired vocals, and somewhat rough production. The swirling effect the guitars often have are a trademark for Discipline, and the guitar work overall has always been very creative. The mellotron is occasional, thus the band is more focused on extremely typical instruments. That is because this is a band that doesn't need extraordinary new sonic inventions to be great, because their song-writing skills are the center-piece of their whole music, strengthened by amazing musicianship on behalf of everybody in the band. Their melodies are memorable and very well built, a band that certainly aims more for the heart of the music than it's skin, and that is rare thing to find in any musician/band, especially for such a genre like Prog, where schematic thinking songwriting-wise is almost a prerequisite.

Discipline have proven with this album that they know how to climax things; as a matter of fact, this album as a whole is extremely climactic in its nature; something anybody could notice, just by looking at the length of the songs and the order they appear on the LP; among the five songs, the first three are relatively accessible and easy to listen to, the fourth is much longer and more ambitious, and the last track goes beyond anything the band has ever released length-wise. It might seem strange, but considering the tracks' length is critical for understanding how an album works.

Starting with the Hard Rock influenced "Circuitry", this album boasts a wonderful and perfect intro: it starts strong and with a very retro feel, but it unexpectedly twists at a certain point, becoming a restless chameleon, making these six minutes sound extremely complete and circular. The two following songs, "When The Walls Are Down" and "Dead City" are even more well written, with more haunting melodies, even more jaw-dropping musicianship and amazing songwriting, however both of them borrow ideas, especially from Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson. The ascending climax of the album continues with the thirteen minute "When She Dreams She Dreams In Color", a slow but gorgeously done song mainly divided in two parts, the opening one calm, almost claustrophobic, but with a beautiful driving melody and great vocals, the other part a long, stretched out exercise where layers of different instruments, including mellotron and a long sax solo, are put together and create this wonderful tapestry of different sounds. But then "Rogue", the 24 minute epic, is where Prog fans will start really drooling: tons of hooks are thrown at the listener in this period of time, leaving him overwhelmed by the complexity and the always consistent great song- writing, even though at times it does remind a little too much of the old bands, especially Van Der Graaf Generator, while executing "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers".

"To Shatter All Accord" is one of those rare albums that even though not having extraordinary production or particular instruments, manages thanks to the amazing song- writing to deliver songs that will shake any listener. The influences are very noticeable, but this shouldn't stop anybody from enjoying these wonderful songs that just might go down in Prog history.

Report this review (#640794)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first Discipline album in almost fourteen years, this hard rockin' set finds the Detroit proggers returning with a vengeance, the four-strong outfit producing their most riveting set yet. Only the third studio release after 1994's debut 'Push & Profit' and the hugely-popular 'Unfolded Like Staircases' from three years later, it's a wonder Discipline have such a near-mythical reputation in progressive rock circles. 'To Shatter All Accord', however, is a testament to that reputation, the opening bars of the craggy, jagged rocker 'Circuitry' emphasizing the group's lean and mean new direction and showcasing the group's refreshingly original style which for the most manages to eschew the usual modern prog conventions, especially during the album's excellent first-half. The opening three tracks - the aforementioned 'Circuitry', the epic, swirling prog of 'When The Walls Are Down' and the slightly more upbeat, keyboard-led 'Dead City' - are the real jewels here, each composition featuring catchy melodies, fantastic interplay and a genuine anthemic feel that blends Genesis- style artistry with simple, fist-pumping rock riffs. It's a winning formula but one that is sadly not repeated on the album's two closing epics. Running in at almost twenty-five minutes, album-closer 'Rogue' is the more impressive of the two, especially during the powerful mid-section when Jon Preston Bouda's screeching guitars reach a wailing crescendo above Matthew Parmenter's cyclical keyboard patterns, yet it's a rare moment of clarity in an otherwise messy, over-produced and overlong piece. That said, this is still a fine comeback album from a talented outfit who have been away far too long. The creative juices of leader and main writer Parmenter are still in good nick, especially on the shorter tracks, and it'll interesting to see if Discipline continue to gather momentum in the coming years or simply disappear out of view for another decade-or-so. At least they have left behind this worthy slice of rock-hard prog, which should more than satisfy the group's loyal brigade of fans.


Report this review (#646877)
Posted Monday, March 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Matthew Parmenter did a decent job keeping the Discipline sound alive on his two solo albums, but it's still incredibly gratifying to see the band back together and sounding like they'd never been away. Some of the material on To Shatter All Accord was already fully developed back in the band's last rise to prominence in the 1990s, with Circuitry and the wonderfully megalomaniacal When the Walls Are Down having appeared on live shows from that era, as did the coda to When She Dreams She Dreams In Colour, whilst Dead City, Rogue, and the bulk of When She Dreams... seem to be shiny and new.

The structure of the album seems to be a balance between the shorter and more succinct pieces of Push and Profit (in the first three tracks) and the longer workouts of Unfolded Like Staircase (as represented by the final two tracks), though the seamless transition between Circuity and When the Walls are Down blurs the boundaries between those two songs somewhat, and on the whole all the best features of those albums are present here. Once again, Discipline prove themselves to be absolute masters at establishing atmosphere and striking the precise emotional chord they are going for. I don't mind that some of the material on here can already be heard on live albums from the earlier era of the band, because I think the inclusion of that material helps the album succeed at seeming like a natural followup to Unfolded Like Staircase, rather than the sort of reunion album where it feels like there's an abrupt discontinuity between where the band left off and the sort of material they play when they get back together.

In fact, it's one of the best reunion albums I've ever heard - much like Van der Graaf Generator's Godbluff, the fact that the main songwriter of the band was keeping the approach alive in his solo albums pays substantial dividends. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#753812)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For those who love vintage prog ...

As I grew up with early prog music sometime in the seventies, I could easily relate with this album where the elements of its music having very strong roots to bands like King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator in some ways with the music style or at least its dark nuances. In modern world you might compare this band with Anglagard, Anekdoten, Parallel or 90 Degrees, etc. It's hard for those of you who were there in the seventies for not liking this album as this one makes the spirit of seventies music alive - it's basically like a trip to the past with modern technology in recording, new band of the 90s.

The opening track Circuitry (6:16) is basically not a straight Crimson-like track as you might hear something very classic rock style especially on its guitar work and vocal style. The composition is actually more on song orientated one so that whoever lived in the seventies or those who appreciate 70s rock music would find this opening track as an entertaining treat. When the Walls are Down (7:29) that follows as second track starts nicely with violin- like sounds followed by medium tempo upbeat music that features vocal (in the style of Peter Hammil). It's an enjoyable track with practically simple composition. Dead City (5:15) strats beautifully with a stunning guitar solo followed with music that sounds nice at the keyboard department featuring vocal line. This time the singing style is totally different with previous tracks. I consider this a s a quite straight forward rock music with a very nice musical break at minute 1:55 featuring stunning guitar solo. I cannot give you any reference on what kind of music this one is because I believe this is quite unique and interesting to enjoy - it's not something like early prog bands ever played before.

When She Dreams She Dreams in Color (13:40) is basically a track that starts wonderfully with a Pete Hammil style of singing where the music is much of slow version of Van der Graaf Generator style. If you do not know the information about this track you would definitely guess that this is Peter Hammil's voice. The much anticipated passage of the music is at the ending part where the music plays repeatedly in the style of King Crimson's Starless demonstrating mellotron drenched sounds and violin-like sounds that blow you away as it repeats slowly and you are overwhelmed by the violin-like sounds and repeated guitar fills (sometimes I get bored) until the song ends.

The epic Rogue (24:04) starts nicely with simple nylon acoustic guitar (classical) fills at the opening part followed by electric great guitar work to feature the vocal line that reminds me to Anekdoten (the singing style). It's really a blown-away opening which really amazed me at first spin and finally become my favourite as well. I like the part when it starts at approx minute 2:59 where the passage sounds different followed with electric guitar work. There are basically great musical passages and transition pieces typically played by guitar and / or piano that bring altogether a very nice experience to listeners who love early prog sounds. At approximately minutes 5 the music changes again and the singing style is with distance voice, referring to the style of Peter Hammil. I can say that overall this epic move beautifully from one style and mood to another with great transition pieces that create wonderful and pleasant listening experience - at least for me personally. Yes, the song tends to be dark from start to end but the movements are really great! I am so fortunate still having this kind of music as great as early days of King Crimson or Van der Graaf performed in totally new compositions by the younger lads of the 90s - and this was just released in 2011! Oh by the way, in the middle of track there were some musical complexities performed by the band. It's fabulous! I have to stop praising this wonderfully crafted epic that has blown me away to the bone! Oh man ..... this is really greaaaaaaaattttttt ......!!!

Overall, you can summarize clearly if you read the above novel-long write-ups that I write emotionally because I am totally blown away. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#755488)
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I nearly overlooked this album, because it was released approximately at the same time as Opeth's Heritage and Steven Wilson' Grace For Drowning. But luckily I listened to it now, and, yes, this album immediately shot to first place on my inofficial private list of most awesome releases of 2011, and pushed my so far favourite of that year, the debut of Herd of Instinct, to second place.

I never heard of the band 'Discipline' before, and when I heard the name I thought it might have something to do with King Crimson's same titled album. And indeed, the influences are there, not only from the Belew era, but very strong from the 70's King Crimson as well. There are also influences from Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis and Pink Floyd.

Beside the traditional instruments (guitars, bass, drums, keyboards) there is a strong use of saxophone, bits of violin, mellotron, and mellow piano interludes. The vocals are very intense and remind me sometimes of Peter Gabriel, Peter Hammill or young Ian Gillan. Especially in the final section of 'Rogue' the vocals remind me of Ian Gillan singing 'Gethsemane'.

'When She Dreams...' starts quietly in a jazzy mood and then slowly increases the dynamics similar to King Crimson's 'Starless, and in the final section the Beatles' 'I want you (she's so heavy)' comes to mind. It is probably my favourite song on this overall dark sounding album.

This album was the reason for me to get the other two studio albums of Discipline as well, and I think that you can call me a fan now. Next, I will also try to get the live albums. Indeed, if you need more discipline, go out and buy this album! (Thank you, Mr. Maestro, for this cunning joke!)

Report this review (#780620)
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars After being much charmed by Parmenter's solo album "Horror Express", "To Shatter All Accord" is actually my first taste of his main band DISCIPLINE. The band has a very classic heavy prog sound, with vocals that sound like a reincarnation of a 21 year old Peter Hammill. Also the prominent organ and the occasional use of saxophone and violins recall the old VDGG sound. But the songs are generally less capricious and more rocking then VDGG, with more rhythm guitars occasionally countered by a gentle touch of GENESIS, mainly provided for by the mellotrons and the melodic guitar leads. Despite the obvious references and vintage sound, DISCIPLINE doesn't come off as a clone, and the wealth of songwriting mastership more then makes up for any misgivings I would normally have for this kind of sound.

The album has a bit of an awkward start, presenting itself in the opening bars as a typical heavy rock/prog band from 1970. But that impression quickly fades as soon as the organ joins in, and when Parmenter adds his tormented tenor voice you know that all will turn out just wright, especially when he makes his line "Are you the apple of my eye?" sound as if he expects you to crawl his eyes out rather then be the apple. The first two songs form a joined effort of increasing intensity and end in a spectacular pathos-filled finale. Did I mention Hammill yet? Track 3 is a lighter and slightly funkier song that lightens up the mood just in time for the two focal points of the album, the 11 minute marvel "When She Dreams She Dreams in Color" and the 'sidelong' epic "Rogue", which must be my favourite 20+ minute prog suite since 1972 something.

Simply a must-have that has been one of my soundtracks for 2011 and much of 2012. It has a bad effect on the wallet though as this obliged me to get everything else from this band and singer. Nothing new but simply beautiful, inspired and very moving.

Report this review (#857511)
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Let me start by staying that I have been a Discipline fan for quite some time and had the pleasure to see them perform live at the Northeast Art Rock Festival a couple years ago.

1. Circuitry (6:16) ? wow it starts with the classic Discipline sound. The music of this track features the classic sound of integrated keyboards and guitar along with organ accompaniment. It starts soft and strong but progresses into a very powerful piece pulled forward by some exceptional lead guitar by Jon Preston Bouda. This track could have easily been on Unfolded like Staircase.

2. When the Walls are Down (7:29) ? This track is excellent, but I know that because it sounds so familiar that I have heard it before? Perhaps on their live DVD? Yes, I am correct. Now I know why the material sounds so much like Unfolded like Staircase. At least the first couple of tracks are left over from that era. Don't get me wrong. This is more than ok. These are great tracks and should have never been left behind in the first place. This track is nothing short of what you would have expected from their earlier epic release.

3. Dead City (5:15) ? This song starts as a math rock track with understated keyboard backdrop and exceptional lead guitar. It is still reminiscent of the Unfolded like Staircase era. Perhaps in this day and age, it is better released today. The song is about Zombies, so lyrically we can't take it too seriously, however Discipline has always been somewhat satirical.

4. When She Dreams She Dreams in Color (13:40) ? We have crossed a threshold here that takes the music in a new direction and into a new dimension. Not only is there a definite difference in the quality of the production, but the song wring style is decidedly different. Now could Discipline get any better? Yes, this track starts with the same progressive excellence as the previous tracks but has the most awesome composition that I have ever heard. It is freakishly beautiful and powerfully bleak with hope only around the corner. Then the best performance Meletron that I have ever heard with an incredible grandiose moment that evades description. The music is powerful . The first time I heard this track was when I was in the after-NEARfest ball room party, and Tom Gagliardi (host of Progressive Rock Gagliarcives) played it during his show. The epic ending of this piece is scored by an incredible solo that is either a violin or saxophone; the question remaining, which is it? This has the quality of any Pink Floyd song ever released.

5. Rogue (24:04) ? This song starts with some great acoustic guitar and then moves into some wonderful jazzy rolling music with a math-rock backdrop. This song is more technical with lots of changes. The guitar work is superb. This track evolves with a very well developed rock movement that devolves back and forth between melodic piano and guitar riffs with the heavier sound. The progressive element of the song takes over again with the Meletron in the forefront. Discipline music is designed for Meletron. The lead guitar work over the Meletron is absolutely excellent. This 24 minute track just flies by.

Discipline is just one of these bands that keep you coming back for more. And although this is really a compilation of tracks originally planned for a late 90s release and new material, it still an excellent release and a well worthy addition to any collection. 5/5

Report this review (#884752)
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow...just wow...

I got this album a while ago back when I saw it was perched at the top of the Best of 2011 page before the 2012 page replaced it. I had actually never heard of Discipline before and was in the mood for something new, so I took a gamble after seeing the album had received such rave reviews. I've had a lot of time to listen to it and digest the material, and I can honestly say without hesitation that this is an album that totally deserves the praise it has garnered. Each track is masterfully crafted, varied, and packs a lot of emotional expression and imagery. There's not a low point on this album in my opinion.

Circuitry kicks off with a really vintage sound that is at once new and familiar, inviting the listener in with promise of a unique musical journey that hearkens back to the prog glory days without seeming like they're re-hashing old ideas they stole from the past masters. The instrumental break in the middle of the track is so unique and powerful. I'm still discovering its secrets and subtle nuances with each listen! The track ends strongly and segues nicely into the next. A terrific choice for an album opener with a promise of much more to come.

When the Walls are Down is a highly emotional track, something I was truly not expecting to hear but greatly appreciated. The sax and key intro is stunning, and when the other instruments join, it brings a swell of energy that proves the intrigue didn't stop with the first track. The extended jam-like passage that comprises the latter half of the track has so much power and variety that I was never at any point even remotely close to bored or disinterested, and after multiple listens, that magic still hasn't worn off. What helps here is the dense nature of the sound creates so many musical layers that you're always guaranteed to discover something you missed last time, no matter how diligently you listen or how astute a musician or listener you are. That to me was always a trademark of progressive music, and only two tracks in to my first exposure to this group, I could already tell they have that in spades.

Dead City is such a cool track. Short and concise as it is, it lacks nothing whatsoever. The word that came to mind after my first listen and every listen since is "fresh." This is a track unlike any you'll hear on any other prog album, classic or modern. The arrangement is very accessible, but because of the daring textures, deceptively smooth integration of repeated asymmetric time signatures, and contrasting passages following the verses and choruses, this is far from a lighter-fare pop tune. The album would be incomplete without it, and I'd love to hear more tracks like this, longer or shorter. It was a breath of fresh air for the entire genre, and an example of how prog can continue to morph without sacrificing its magic. If only I could drop this album in the 80s to communicate that concept...but I digress.

When She Dreams She Dreams in Color is a track that I would say you cannot and should not try to assess based on one listen. It's a much more subdued track, with jazz elements such as a less concisely structured form and more comping by the instruments over a repeated chord progression underneath a smooth, almost slithering vocal line. After a crescendo and strong cadential point, the music backs off, but only temporarily, leading into probably the most emotional point of the album, the extended instrumental passage. Between the mellotron swells and the haunting, sobbing violin that follows, you can't help but be transported to a much darker, yet cathartic place than any other passage in any other track on the album. If you allow yourself to become consumed by the atmosphere of the piece, you'll truly appreciate what this passage has to offer. All I can say is give it a few spins, allow yourself to get lost, and appreciate just how much emotion was put into each individual part. There's power here. Power that even some of the giants of the vintage days would respect and envy. if I needed any more persuasion to believe this was already a solid album...then I heard this...Any skeptic would see the 24:04 track length and understandably think, "Looks like they're taking a stab at an epic. How can this possibly compete with the epics of the past?" I'll be the first to say that not only is this a highly intriguing, varied, complex track that surfaced in a time when the extended epic seems so out of place in modern recording, but I'm going to put myself out there for possible criticism and ridicule by saying in my opinion it surpasses such tracks as "2112" and "The Gates of Delirium" in my book. I do not care how much you want to argue with me, this track is that good, and it avoids the pitfalls of past epics expertly. By varying its moods in such a seamless way, smoothly transitioning through numerous time and key changes, and sustaining such a high emotional peak without getting bogged down in the musical masturbation that is unnecessary virtuosity, they present a solid tune that was expertly arranged and takes the extended epic to new heights and previously uncharted territories. From its calm, brooding start through its building early sections, driving later vocal passages, chaotic solo sections that segue into those characterized by a focused passion, lamentable outro, and cathartic final cadence with a delicate guitar passage that calmly plays a beautiful 7/8 line over a pad of keys as the music fades away, this piece is a true musical journey that you just need to hear.

If you let me hear this album before I knew it cam out in 2011 and told me when it was made, I would not have believed you at all. Seriously, this was such a surprise, but what a pleasant one it was! It is well deserving of the praise it has already received, and I for one am happy to count myself among those who find it to be a truly exceptional release. It is truly essential listening for any fan of progressive music, and I have no hesitation giving it the highest rating possible. 5 stars for a modern masterpiece.

Report this review (#890371)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ever listened to VDGG and wondered what they would sound like if Hamill toned down the hysterics, the guitar was emphasized, and they just generally rocked out harder and longer?

I don't think this album gets all the way there, but it's as close as anything else I have heard, and it's awesome. To Shatter All Accord is simply one of those albums that I heard the very first time and knew I would keep coming back to it. As I've revisited it (many, many times), I keep hearing new things that blow my mind. This album is a showcase for both great prog composition and excellently textured music.

Circuitry/Walls is a great start, as the two form one extended track for me. It starts in a vaguely Sabbath manner and gradually morphs into a killer prog crescendo wall of sound. It's heavily overdubbed, and therefore probably not terribly fit for live delivery, but it's a killer prog track in general.

Dead City was also a highlight for me, as I don't necessarily expect shorter songs on prog albums to be this memorable (I know, I'm guilty of length discrimination!); however, this track is on par with Can-Utility by Genesis in my book. It's got a nice funky rhythm with a missing beat, some Emminence Front keys, and a great instrumental break with a huge crescendo. Just great stuff.

When She Dreams is the track that I may skip. It's too long, although it is a bit catchy when I'm in the right mood.

Of course, the absolute highlight is Rogue. This track is just a monster of menacing prog and dissonance galore. I love the playfulness in time signatures, the absolute cacophony of sound in the middle freakout section, and the textures of the keys. Again, this is just great studio prog. I perhaps would prefer to have a gigantic finale for an epic of this quality, as I think the material in the back 5 minutes is the weakest of the song, but it certainly works quite well as is, and Discipline deserve much credit for laying it down.

In short, this album occupies an essential place in my collection for dark, retro prog. As it's the best of this admittedly subjective genre, I have no qualms about placing this in 5-star, masterpiece territory.

Report this review (#890412)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Definitely one of the best albums I have ever listened to of symphonic prog. Discipline surpassed a lot my expectations with their latest work. A truly diamond in the crown for the band. The music is incredible, the arrangements are majestic. Discipline has a refreshment of the classic sound of the seventies, and if you allow me to say the next thing, they are very much in the vein of Van der Graaf Generator, even Michael Parmenter has a pretty similar voice register and tone as Peter Hammill. Is he the Hammill of our times? An album worthy to be listened over and over, an album worthy the 5 stars, or at least 4, no less. Excellent!
Report this review (#1009091)
Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars A modern-day Van der Graaf Generator-King Crimson clone - that is, dark, dramatic but not yet metallic and with an occasional melodic hook. Punchy production. A penchant for layered crescendos. Probably the most consistent Discipline album. Circuitry and When the Walls Are Down are unhurried rockers, but luckily trimmed down compared with previous albums that had good atmospherics and riffs, but also long stretches of dreck. Dead City is surprisingly funky. When She Dreams... is more psychedelic, somehow I never can finish it. Rogue is a huge epic. Starts with acoustic guitar, follows with a good riff and psychological roller-coaster.

Overall, would have been a perfectly brooding, groovy, hard-hitting album, if not for the overuse of the crescendo technique and episodic vocal detours (venom-spitting, banshee-wailing) all too obviously lifted from other sources.

Report this review (#1061322)
Posted Thursday, October 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you missed the mainstream "synth/rock/prog" of the eighties, this work resumes it quiet well, and adds some very nice prog touches to the sub-genre.

I myself lived that "era", again not by choice, but because my younger brother, listened to it intensely. So, here I go...Intelligent music writing, somehow overshadowed by the obvious "copy-kats" of "riffs", either vocal, electric guitar or keys, from that "era". They in turn throw some personal touches to the genre, but not that often, and not all that "original".

It is like witnessing a band under construction (I know this is not their first album), a lot of potential, but still under construction.

I hope this guys realize, how close and far they are. Because I can assume, if they are not first eaten by markets and followers, that they have blended a lot of very good influences (from Sabbath, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Rush, Kinks, ELP with the likes of Judas Priest, Deff Leppard, Boston, UFO, T-Rex, Aerosmith and others). So, there is a lot to absorb to make it invisible, as to call their "own", but also very good songwritings and arrangements, when they do not become self-indulgent (track 4 for example, great song "made" too long).

A promising band that I hope trascends its very "interesting" and kind of "opposite" influences and their own market.

***3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1090548)
Posted Sunday, December 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Unfolded like a Staircase is 5-star album for me; after so many years, when Discipline released To Shatter All Accord, I was excited. Helas, a big disappointment. I do not think that good prog needs to have long songs; unfortunately this album has too pieces (especially the last one) that left the impression of forced length with repetitive passages and less than interesting transitions and melodies. When the Walls are Down is pure noise to me; I skip it. Circuitry and Dead City are listenable but they do not have the sophistication of any of the pieces in the Staircase. To me, Parmenter's solo album, Astray, is better.
Report this review (#1121540)
Posted Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars 2.4/5

Although i'm more of an old school prog fan of 60' and 70', i got curious about this album, since it has such a good rating. To be honest, I did not expect anything, i just wanted to hear something new. Unfortunately i did not hear anything new. It has many influences, that can one hear, from heavy metal to crossover prog.

First song has a nice intro to the album, followed by second song which has also hard riffs and long 'finale' enriched whit two riffs and some nice intermezzo soloes, nothing especially progressive.

The third song can be compared with VDGG only with rougher vocals but still inadequate due to lack of avangard to compensate. It finishes roughly like the 21st Sc. Man which is flatering to I. McDonald and Fripp.

The fourth one has a nice progression but unfortunately it is all heard, nothing new like there is in Hybris from Anglagard for example.

As for the last composition; Rogue - very nice intro, I'm also a classical guitar player so i can really say it has beauty in it. The continuation of the song is one of my favourite part, very nice. Sequence that follows has parts that reminded me of MO - Birds of Fire, but that's about it what is excellent, last 4 min. was a slow parting which didn't touch my emotional side.

Good album, nice music, but unfortunately, it didn't leave a print in my ears.

Report this review (#1192604)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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