A boy gets an email from his fearless leader, “Chris the Progtologist, you’ve received a new album to review. It’s right up your alley, a Prog band out of Detroit.” WHAT? American Prog out of Detroit? Are they new? NO! They’ve been around since like the late 80’s? How did I miss this?
The boy eagerly opens the file that was sent to him like a child opening a X-mas day gift early, for the boy loves new Prog more than Disneyworld, New York City Pizza, and a good, long, morning piss (these things are sacred to the boy.) He opens it, clicks on the first track and…AND……………….
……let’s just say that boy is dead now and new one has emerged, a disappointed Prog fan.
Listen, there’s a lot I can say to dress this up in either direction. I can put the most positive of spins on this, or I can unleash the beast, and honestly, neither is helping Discipline here. So I’m going to try and stay as middle of the road as I possibly can on this one, but I have to tell you, it’s going to be hard to not veer this fucker off into a bridge embankment if I were to come across one.
So since there’s only seven tracks on Captives of the Wine Dark Sea, let’s take it one by one shall we?
“The Body Yearns” – This track was one of the brighter spots on a release that didn’t have many. The first thing I will say as a positive across this whole album is, these guys can play their instruments, that’s for sure. The glaring flaws on this album fall in song writing, structure, and emotion, or lack thereof.
This tune has a classic Prog Rock feel in the vein of Genesis with a bit of maybe Billy Joel in the piano end. At the very beginning, I was really digging the street fair vibe it gave off, and like I said at the top, playing the instruments is not a weak point for this band. The very beginning of the tune was kind of herky jerky, and the singer was kind of off (which will be a theme here), but once it kicked in it was good.
But, as the song title predicts, the body…it does yearn, and so does the ear, for something different. This song would’ve been fine at 5 or 6 minutes, but 9 minutes proves to kill what could’ve been a decent opener.
“Life Imitates Art” – I truly hope that the title of this song isn’t a for-telling of the lives of those who listen to it, because this song is boring. When I say boring, I mean over 4 minutes of the same monotonous riff, and lack of vocal melody. As I eluded to in the first song, the singer lacks any sense of emotion, or a pleasant tone in his voice. He’s mostly on key, and maybe he translates better live (this is the case with a few singers in the genre) but on this recording it’s really a bummer.
This song also shows a real lack of production skill as well. The mix is not very good, and the guitar sounds are obnoxious at times. On the positive side though, there is a bad ass organ sound in this tune reminiscent of the Doors. I would have to say, two songs in and the keys are the MVP.
This song really shows how lifeless the singer truly is. Good sounding Doors organ. 4 minutes of the same thing over and over again with a chorus of monotony…which is life imitating this art.
“S” – An instrumental piece that offers more of the same. Good enough playing I guess, but monotonous and boring. Look, I’ll say it once and I’ll say it a thousand times, there is nothing worse than BORING PROG. I’m the biggest defender of the faith you’ll find, but I’ll also be the first to say, if you’re going to do it, you better be interesting. A miss in the Prog field is glaring.
On the positive, there’s a nice little passage in the middle till the end to close out the number.
“Love Songs” – Not a bad song. Straight rock/folk with some good melodies and harmonies. I’m still not liking the singer’s voice, but in this one, it doesn’t matter. The song is mostly harmonized, and is just a fun little bit.
“Here, There is No Soul” – This title tells the story here. First off, what’s with the cowbell? Look, I love me some cowbell, I mean, I’m no Christopher Walken, but who doesn’t love a cowbell? In this tune though, it feels out of place.
Other than that, there is literally nothing to say about this tune. It’s lifeless, with the exception of a 5 to 10 second passage to close the second that is beautifully reminiscent of Peter Gabriel era Genesis….BUT THAT WAS IT. Why wouldn’t you do that for way, WAY longer? SMH.
“The Roaring Game” – A very bright spot on this album. A 6-minute instrumental piece being the bright spot of an album for me is saying something. If you know anything about me, I’m not a huge fan of the straight up instrumental piece. Even though I AM The Progtologist, I prefer vocals with my music. Singing, rapping, harmonies, death growls, cookie monster vocals, a sheep bleating, whatever…I want vocals damn it.
So when I say an instrumental on an album is the best tune, it either means it’s fucking tremendous, or the singer sucks something awful. Now, I’m not the type to say a singer is awful if he/she is out there trying, and when it’s all said and done, Matthew Parmenter is on key and just needs to work on some emotion to his voice.
With that said, Mathew is also the fine keyboardist on this album, and he shines here. “The Roaring Game” is definitely the high point of this release.
“Burn the Fire Upon the Rocks” – Ok, finally, this is a decent Prog Rock song. Clocking in at over 14-minutes, and it’s not terribly boring which I find to be interesting. Their 3 and 4 minute songs are dreadfully monotonous, but the 9 and the 14-minute songs are way more entertaining. The first one is not nearly as good as the last one, as the last one kicks off with a sweet Doobie Brothers-esque riff and feel.
Different from the first epic tune, this one breaks up the monotony nicely by meandering through funky and atmospheric musical passages for 4-minutes before getting to the vocals. Now I’ve been hard on the vocals, and rightfully so, but as a man who likes to give credit where it’s do, the vocal performance on this tune is a significant step up from the rest of Captives of the Wine Dark Sea.
The highlights of this tune are the funky Doobie Bros. riff at the top, and the dramatic build to the ending, which really gave me a gift after working through this album.
All in all, I will say even though I really didn’t enjoy this release, the ending gave me hope and made me want to check out their past catalog. Every band has a bad release from time to time, and this being the first release that I’ve ever heard from Discipline leads me to at least give a different album a listen. But if you’ve never heard Discipline before, DO NOT START HERE. If you have, maybe tell me a head of time if this is how they sound.
Either way, if you agree, or disagree, or want to save me from other awful releases from this or ANY artists, email me at TheProgtologist@gmail.com.
Bloodrock Rating: 1 out of 5 axes
Written by Chris Elio for Bloodrock Media on May 31, 2017