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Symphonic Prog • United States

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Discipline biography
DISCIPLINE is one of those rare cases of obscurity combined with reverence. Much like Änglagård was the Swedish phenomenon, DISCIPLINE was the U.S. counterpart. They are bands that released two highly praised studio albums in the '90s, and then disappeared. The ensuing passage of time allowed them to become legendary. The most obvious difference from Änglagård being that the DISCIPLINE albums are still readily available.

Even though they did not have an official release until 1993, the band had been around since 1987. Guitarist John Preston Bouda, drummer Paul Dzendzel, bass player Mathew Kennedy, and singer/multi-instumentalist Matthew Parmenter began in a place that is not usually considered fertile ground for prog. When one thinks of Detroit (Michigan) music, it usually conjures images of Motown, Ted Nugent, or Iggy Pop. I lived in the area in 1987, and I can tell you that I was not looking for the next best thing to Marillion to emerge in my neck of the woods. However, they took the bull by the horns, and created a loyal following in the Detroit area. It wasn't just the challenging music that drew fans. The live shows harkened back to Gabriel-era Genesis. Matthew Parmenter changed costumes for each song, and wore his now trademark mime makeup. This led to his nick name, The Magic Acid Mime. They had no recording contract, but their cassette tapes were very well received.

In 1993 Discipline recorded their first proper album, "Push & Profit." It wasn't exactly a smash, but it was a critical success. A supporting tour in Norway also proved that they had moved far beyond local hero status. To get proper albums out there, they created their own independent label. DISCIPLINE, and Matthew Parmenter, are the only artists on Strung Out Records. "Push and Profit" was not your typical Neo fare. They took cues from many different areas of the prog realm. Where lesser bands using this approach might seem unfocused, DISCIPLINE blended it together as if this is the way it is supposed to be done.

1997 saw the release of the much-heralded "Unfolded Like a Staircase." Most (if not all) of the whimsy found on the debut was gone. This was a much darker album, and consisted of four long tracks. For this album, a Peter Hammill influence was very much in the forefront. That did not deter the fans, and it solidified what was to become their legendary status.

Although the studio albums were spaced o...
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Captives Of The Wine Dark SeaCaptives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Audio CD$12.20
$13.01 (used)
Push & ProfitPush & Profit
Strung Out Records 1993
Audio CD$14.83
$14.99 (used)
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DISCIPLINE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

DISCIPLINE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 36 ratings
Chaos Out Of Order
3.55 | 150 ratings
Push & Profit
4.25 | 374 ratings
Unfolded Like Staircase
4.19 | 632 ratings
To Shatter All Accord
3.60 | 70 ratings
Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea

DISCIPLINE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.02 | 33 ratings
Into The Dream ... Discipline Live
4.27 | 44 ratings
Live Days
4.72 | 47 ratings
This One's for England

DISCIPLINE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.13 | 25 ratings
Live 1995

DISCIPLINE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DISCIPLINE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by jude111

5 stars This is my choice for 2017 Prog Album of the Year, and the track The Body Yearns is my Best Prog Track of 2017. I'm surprised this album isn't being talked about more, but I guess that's the sad state rock music in general is in, this year in particular. It's been a hard year, politically and culturally.

To address the criticism that there are - gasp! - short songs on here: To put it succinctly, this is a fun album, full of variety and surprises. There are shorter and longer songs. If short songs bother you, then I recommend you avoid A Farewell to Kings (4 songs 5 mins. or less), Hemispheres (2 of its 4 songs clock in under 5 mins), Dark Side of the Moon (all short-ish songs), Nursery Cryme (4 of 7 songs are short)...

1) The first track, "The Body Yearns," is nearly 10 minutes of gloriously melodic prog. This is the kind of song Discipline does so well. It seems effortless and insanely catchy, but musically it's quite complex, and if it was easy to do, more would be writing music like this. But no one else is. 2) "Life Imitates Art" is a fine second track; it's perhaps the most VDGG-like song on the album. If prog were still played on classic rock radio like it used to be (think Tom Sawyer, Bloody Well Right, Aqualung), then this would be the likely radio hit. 3) The third track, "S," is a nice instrumental with shifting tones. 4) The fourth track seems to be giving some people some problems. It's actually a quite Beatlesque melody that Paul McCartney used to come up with in his prime. How can anyone not like this? "Love Songs" injects the kind of fun and variety that albums often sorely lack; its ending should give you a smile of delight. It's also the kind of leftfield song that radio used to love; perhaps another would-be hit back in the day. Lyrically-speaking, it's clearly related to all the other album tracks. 5) & 6) Although these are two tracks, I hear these as companion pieces that are meant to be played together. "Here This Is No Soul" is again quite melodic, and seques into the instrumental "Roaring Game." Unlike the previous instrumental, this one has more of a feeling of an improvised jam, especially in its last 2 minutes. 7) "Burn the Fire Into the Rocks" is the last and longest song on the album, at 14 minutes. It if weren't for the awesome first track, this one would be my favorite. What sounds like a mellotron introduces new tonal colors into the album. A beautiful track with a nice groove, that ends with a surprising synth solo.

In conclusion, Discipline never sounded better. They sound fresh and vital, and the vocals and songs are highlights. Is it their best album? Well, is Foxtrot better than Selling England by the Pound? In other words, it's an excellent Discipline album, worthy to stand side-by-side with their other work, and will no doubt be a personal favorite for many of its fans.

 This One's for England by DISCIPLINE album cover Live, 2014
4.72 | 47 ratings

This One's for England
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This is freaking awesome!

It is incredible what Discipline has done to me, I already loved them when I discovered their Unfolded Like Staircase, and then in 2011 with the release of To Shatter All Accord, they became one of my favorite US bands, actually that release was my top 2011 prog album. Since then, I've been crossing my fingers hoping to see them on stage once, and seems that life has treated me well because I will be able to experience it really soon when they play at Progotoberfest, which really excites me.

In 2014 they released a two-cd live album which was recorded at the RoS Fest in 2012, an album that in my opinion is flawless, showing the incredible potential the band has on stage, with that evident VdGG feeling, the theatrical spirit of Parmenter and the amazing musicianship of Dzendzel, Kennedy and Bouda. These four musicians managed to transmit the countless stories and emotions their albums share, with that vivid and human touch concerts give, so the audience could get immersed into a sometimes dark, sometimes touchy, sometimes disarming atmosphere Discipline produce.

The song selection was perfect, only eight but making a running time of almost 100 minutes. At that time, they were promoting To Shatter All Accord, so it was pretty obvious they would open with "Circuitry", a wonderful track that shows the power of this band, which in my opinion has to be one of the best US prog bands since the 90s, sadly not so many people concur with me, but who agree, won't let me lie. A jump to the past comes next with "Before the Storm" with its two parts performed, and then with the nice "Blueprint" from their 1994 record Push & Profit.

Matthew Parmenter's voices is simply amazing, no matter if he reminds us of Peter Hammill, he has a very own sound produced by that theatrical and emotional tune he implements. From the 2011 they played then "Blueprint" first and then "When She Dreams, She Dreams In Color", the last song of the first CD, and a personal favorite of mine, I truly love that song and its final hypnotic instrumental part. I am really looking forward to witness this one soon.

You might ask why keeping only 3 tracks for a CD, but well, two out of them are magnificent epics. The first one is their famous "Canto IV", a true masterpiece released in 1997 that stays as one of my Discipline favorite compositions ever, it is wonderful to listen to its changes in mood in a live version. After the final epic the band performed "The Reasoning Wall", which might be my least favorite track, which doesn't mean it is bad or something related, not at all; and then, the concert finishes with the super 24-minute suite "Rogue", which is the one that also closes their 2011 album. Man, hope to be lucky enough to witness Rogue, it is incredible how those 24 minutes pass so fast, taking us into a true progressive rock bliss where the mind flies and is fed by countless colors and textures.

This album is of my recent favorite live releases, without a doubt. I'll tell you later how happy will I be after seeing Discipline on stage, I am sure it will be unforgettable!

Enjoy it!

 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With the departure of founder member and long-serving lead guitar player Jon Preston Bouda, it's no surprise that Captives of the Wine Dark Sea represents something of a sonic shift for Discipline. With Chris Herin from Tiles stepping in on guitars, the sound of the album feels like an exploration of a path less taken - like the sort of material you'd get if, after the neo-prog-ish Push and Profit, the band had taken their sound in a more art rock direction instead of the symphonic prog-oriented sound of Unfolded Like Staircase or To Shatter All Accord.

That isn't to say that this is a simple or straightforward release, mind; in terms of the overall attitude, I'm reminded of the warped pop music sensibilities of Slapp Happy or late Art Bears running head-first into the dark energy of Discipline's big inspiration, Peter Hammill and VdGG. At point's there's a sort of prog cocktail jazz sound to proceedings, but whilst the album reaches a quasi-mainstream peak in the middle (Love Songs, in particular, comes across like a parody on the subject), it concludes with a two-set of songs which will doubtless please prog fans with their extended instrumental breaks, even if they aren't quite in the mode we are used to Discipline working in.

I get the feeling that this is a bit of a transitional release - at points it sounds more like one of Matthew Parmenter's solo releases, particularly given the extensive multi-instrumentalist duties he takes on here and the generally more conventional song structures he tends to go for on those - but Discipline are good enough that even their transitional works are worth paying attention to. Approach with an open mind and don't hold your hopes out for Unfolded Like Staircase 2: Unravelled Like Escalator and you'll probably get the best results.

 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Review originally published in

How I love Discipline!

I'll be honest; Discipline must be one of my favorite active US prog bands mainly due to their already classic "Unfolded Like Staircase" and their magnificent "To Shatter All Accord" which was my favorite 2011 prog album. Then I listened to their live record "This One's For England" and oh man, I've been willing to see them on stage for several years and seems my dream will come true soon at Progtoberfest in Chicago. And well, of course I would be looking forward to listen to some previous songs but I am also eager to see the ones from this new and great albums that I am reviewing right away. This time Matthew Parmenter and company have delight us with a 7-track album that make a running time of 45 minutes full of prog rock, symphonic and eclectic with that inherent VdGG feeling that Matthew's voice provides as well as with the musical arrangements.

It kicks off with "The Body Yearns". It is impossible not to think of Peter Hammill, and even I could say the music reminds me a bit of Gentle Giant so it is a pretty nice combination of a gentle sound with a raw voice. The song develops an addictive sound and at half the song it changes and produces a dark and somber atmosphere, which is one of the characteristics of Discipline's music, I totally love those somber instrumental moments that might be repetitive but hypnotizing. "Life Imitates Art" is another cool track, much shorter than the opener but with that same VdGG feeling provided not only by vocals, but also by keyboards, strings and drums.

The eclecticism of this band is not a hidden fact, and we can confirm it with "S", an instrumental track that can remind you even of King Crimson due to those guitars and dark atmospheres. Here the band also added a nice violin that produces both a symphonic and jazzy sound. With "Love Songs" vocals return accompanied by acoustic guitar at first, and later bass and drums join in a very soft way. It is one of Discipline's catchiest tunes ever, which doesn't mean it is weak, not at all, but we might not be used to it. "Here there is no Soul" is a rockier tune than the previous one, but it is quite different from the first tracks here, no dark atmospheres here, and a nice rhythm that can be easy to dig.

"The Roaring Game" is a gem, I absolutely love it! I could describe it as a perfect amalgam between strings and drums, with an overdose of hypnotic figures that create a powerful sound. The four musicians involved understand each other perfectly, so the result is a clean and natural instrumental prog song in which no one stands out because all of them have their share and great things to offer. The last song is another gem "Burn The Fire Upon The Rocks" whose 15 minutes make a magnificent ending. This piece blends prog rock and even jazz, with a great use of keyboards, wonderful bass lines and quite different passages. The first four minutes are instrumental and then the music fades and the voice appears, creating a new soft passage that will be developing new elements for some minutes, including the beautiful addition of a mellotron. The track keeps morphing but always sharing interesting moments. I think it is not as powerful as other of their epic-gems such as Canto IV or When She Dreams?, but it is quite solid, nevertheless.

A very good album that I've been enjoying a lot recently, not my favorite Discipline one, but it is great as usual. Now I am eagerly waiting to see them at Progtober Fest. Enjoy it!

 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. Well I like this better than "Push & Profit" from their early days but overall this is a little disappointing. Lets just say it's a far cry from "Unfolded Like A Staircase" or "To Shatter All Accord". It's cool to see that Chris Herin plays lead guitar on this album. He's also from Detroit and from the band TILES. The music here though is less dark and less powerful with less mellotron, well you get the picture. It reminds me of modern day VDGG which I have to say I'm not that into other than their "Present" album. Even the vocals aren't as theatrical as this really does come across as a lighter version of their classic stuff. This was mixed by Terry Brown who has worked with TILES a lot.

"The Body Yearns" is my favourite song on here. The piano melodies are really enjoyable on this one, I actually looked forward to this one because of the piano every time I'd play it. It opens with either double tracked vocals or dual vocals with piano. I love when the tempo picks up and the sound turns fuller. The best section of this album though is from before 5 minutes to after 9 minutes where we get a glimpse of their former sound. It's dark with organ and bass and a more powerful sound. More please!

"Life Imitates Art" really reminds me of current VDGG, especially Matthews vocals. It's uptempo with a fairly urgent sounding rhythm to it. I like the organ before 2 1/2 minutes and the drumming before 4 minutes. "S" is a little different with the upfront violin as the drums pound in this 4 minute instrumental. The guitar comes and goes and it settles 2 1/2 minutes in with piano and bass mostly then the guitar comes to the fore after 3 minutes.

"Love Songs" should not be on here period. Sorry but this is commercial crap in my opinion. A light little ditty. "Here There Is No Soul" starts with drums and guitar as vocals arrive just before a minute. Not bad. "The Roaring Game" is the other track besides the opener that I really dig. This is an instrumental and the drums and piano lead much of the time like on the opener. Organ before 2 minutes and some nice guitar late as the organ pulses and drums pound.

"Burn The Fire Upon The Rocks" is the 14 1/2 minute closer and my final top three. This is a good one and as far as I can tell the only song with mellotron on it. It's energetic to start out but settles quickly with guitar. It kicks back in as contrasts continue. I like the organ floating in the background. I believe that's mellotron before 5 1/2 minutes. Vocal melodies before 8 1/2 minutes followed by more mellotron. More of the blessed mellotron before 12 1/2 minutes. Lots of guitar late over the powerful soundscape to end it.

Lots to enjoy here and I look forward to all the opinions that will come about this album. I really feel that "To Shatter All Accord" is their best studio album and "This One's For England" is their best live recording.

 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.25 | 374 ratings

Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars It's like Neo-prog, except it ain't neo-prog: 8/10

If DISCIPLINE's name was inspired by KING CRIMSON's album of the same name, then those two hold no similarities. Whereas the album completely disregards progressive rock roots, the band nurtures directly from it - particularly VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. They're not a copy of any sort, but the influence is pretty visible, especially through the gloomy atmosphere (and dark alto sax playing). As if, above you, dark thunderous clouds gather, cold northern winds blow, the warmness of the sun is roughly inexistent, all this happens as you gaze at the ocean, a lighthouse in the corner. Basically, as if you're in the north of Great Britain with all the cold, muddy, gritty characteristics you might think of. There's heavy fog too, sure, why not.

UNFOLDED LIKE STAIRCASE is less cryptic than VDGF (excluding that enigmatic title) lyrically, although conceptually it might be just as shady. Well, actually, if DISCIPLINE had the same limelight VDGF, perhaps their intentions would be clear. Nonetheless, what I understood through this album is that those fellas are melodramatic pessimistic. "Melo"(dy) is especially visible in Canto IV and Crutches (my favorite song on the album), whereas "dramatic" is predominant on the (relatively) energetic performance of Into the Dream the 22-minutes-long epic.

That song is peculiarly interesting. GENESIS's influences (particularly from TRESPASS and FOXTROT) are astoundingly visible. Matthew Parmenter might not materialize a fairyland nearly as beautiful as Peter Gabriel does, but he makes some delicious gimmicks with his strangely contralto-sounding vocals (a guy that sounds like a girl that sounds like a guy, nice one). If anything, he's on the right track. The outro is particularly good at mimicking Mellotron and the Moog.

What is particularly adorable in UNFOLDED LIKE STAIRCASE is exactly this; there are little technical power and A LOT of melodic introspection. Whether or not they're incapable of bringing virtuosity is disregardable; they succeed at their melodic pretention. I suppose it's important to cite that while there are certain similarities between DISCIPLINE's musical style here and Neo-Prog, it's too much of a stretch to consider them so; they're not technically simple and honey-overdosed enough. Sure, both tempos are slow(-ish), but DISCIPLINE is much grittier than you'd get from Neo- Prog. Not unfair to say they resemble though.

A lovable album to both neoproggers and archaicoproggers. If that beautiful cover didn't captivate you enough to give this a shot, do it nonetheless - the music will do it.

 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Einwahn

4 stars "We're all awash in a sea of blood, and the least we can do is wave to each other" (John Minton).

Perhaps I am imagining this allusion in the red sea conjured up by Discipline's Homeric album title. But there is no doubting the musical allusions to the artist who adopted the above quote for an album title back in 1970. I thought the much-remarked Van der Graaf Generator influences on Discipline's previous albums were relatively subtle, but the ponderous rhythms and emphatic vocals of certain tracks on 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea' come across like conscious parodies of Peter Hammill solo albums, or maybe the late VdGG album 'Trisector'. In the same idiom there are two instrumental tracks, 'S' and 'The Roaring Game', totalling 10 minutes.

The closest sound to 'To Shatter All Accord' comes on the long (14:30 mins) final track 'Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks', but this album is very different to its precursors. My experience of Prog Archives suggests that changes in direction by popular bands are seldom rewarded in ratings, so I do not expect this album to be topping the PA charts come the year end.

But if, like me, you enjoy Peter Hammill's idiosyncratic output, 'Captives of the Wine Dark Sea' is very well worth checking out. Just put 'Accord' and 'Staircase' out of your mind, or you may be disappointed.

Verdict: I'm giving this the same rating as 'Trisector'.

 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars From the very first few notes, there is an immediate feeling of the ecclectic formula that made Van Der Graaf Generator great. The comparisons will exist, and perhaps that is a compliment to be compared to such an awesome and talented group. Captives of the Wine Dark Sea has some high points like the super proggy album conclusion called Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks. The pleasant surprise for me was Love Songs, which sounds more like a classic Motorpsycho track from their alternative years. Mix in some excellent instrumentation, and this is an solid ecclectic release full of many influences. The is no doubt that Matthew Parmenter is talented, and the Van Der Graaf Generator comparisons will exist based on the style of music. While To Shatter All Accord may be their best album to date, there is much to enjoy about this new release from Discipline... and a worthy addition to any Progressive Rock collection.
 Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 70 ratings

Captives Of The Wine Dark Sea
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by piccolomini

1 stars Captives of the Wine Dark Sea isn't very...prog. It's mostly alternative still trying to be a little prog. All of the songs are lackluster and corny. It's obvious Discipline wasn't trying to be as progressive with this one and wanted to take a different musical approach. I don't think this was a very good idea since the songs turned out to be really boring, and considering the scarcity of albums put out by Discipline, it's not like anyone was getting sick of their old sound. The best track is the longest, Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks, while being the most progressive is still a bit laggy and boring, but the standout track nonetheless. The second half of S is pretty cool as well. Everything else is bogus and I don't see myself listening to it much at all in the future.
 Unfolded Like Staircase by DISCIPLINE album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.25 | 374 ratings

Unfolded Like Staircase
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Progfan97402

2 stars One of the more overrated prog albums of the 1990s. Apparently Matthew Parmenter had just discovered Van der Graaf Generator prior to the recording of Unfolded Like Staircase, explaining why Push & Profit was quite a bit different. So it's little surprise the VdGG influence can be felt, but I also detect a Spock's Beard influence as well, because Parmenter's voice alternates between that of Peter Hammill and that of Neal Morse. "Canto IV" and "Crutches" aren't bad, but the problem in this CD is it's way too long and it sounds like they ran out of ideas after the first two cuts. It's CDs like this that gives me a reminder why in recent years, thanks to the vinyl revival (starting about 2007 or '08) many artists were starting to scale back to 40-45 minutes and the albums, to my ears, have improved, because you're not having to sit through lots of filler. It's easier for artists to pick the cream of the crop if having to stick to 40-45 minutes of music. Unfolded Like Staircase is much like Echolyn's As the World to my ears, just drawn out way too long. Of course I can't say that lengthy releases of the 1990s were all bad, Porcupine Tree managed some great music during their early space rock phase (pre-Stupid Dream) and their CDs were normally around an hour long or more, even during their more popular phase (In Absentia and beyond). And then you have Änglagård (who were wise to keep the music around 45 minutes), which set the standard so high it would be difficult for any other artist from that era to touch them. Still Unfolded Like Staircase doesn't fall into the neo-prog trap, but it's not entirely retro either, the vocals and style does sound '90s, even if some low key Mellotron is used. I realize in the 1990s they feel they'd sell more copies if the CD consists of two ten minutes cuts and a 20 minute piece, which I think is a dangerous trap to keep the quality consistent throughout. Spock's Beard's The Light, for example does have a couple ten minute pieces and one piece over 20 minutes, but surprisingly the CD is excellent (and I'm not even the biggest Spock's Beard fan, because my gripe about them is their frequent commercial/mainstream approach). I do take a lot of prog since the 1990s with a grain of salt, as many of them fall short of the great stuff (well known and obscure) from the 1970s. Discipline, to my ears, falls short. I know some of you will enjoy it, so I know Unfolded Like Staircase has its fans, but it simply left me cold, no matter how many times I've listened to it.
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