Discipline: To Shatter All Accord
Something that brings me great joy is when I get to see one of my favorite bands reunited for a concert (exactly three times in this case). What is even better is when they record a new studio album. The shows took place in 2008 so I was beginning to lose hope of new studio material. Especially since they recently released another live album. Thankfully at the end of October, 2011 “To Shatter All Accord” appeared.
Discipline is not exactly a household name. This is true even here on their home turf in Southeastern Michigan. Those who do know view the band one of the finest in prog, and consider 1997’s “Unfolded Like Staircase” a masterpiece. That is a lot to live up to after fourteen-year hiatus. They were great live, but that was pretty much expected. It was all classic material. This time it’s all new, right?
Well, it’s not completely new. Most fans will be familiar with “When the Walls Are Down,” and if you haven’t heard “Circuitry” you aren’t really a fan. These songs have been live staples for a long time. It is nice to finally have studio versions but there really are no surprises.
“Dead City” introduces the new Discipline. The sharp staccato is reminiscent of the “Push and Profit” days and the signature Discipline sound is not diminished. There is just an intangible something that let’s me know this updated. The band is as tight as ever. Matthew pulls out his violin and Jon Bouda shines very brightly on his guitar solo (more on him later). A sound bite of a news report about zombies is inserted, but I can’t help feeling that’s not what this song is really about. They do live in the greater Detroit area.
If Matthew Parmenter’s solo albums are to be seen as a nod to Peter Hammill, then “When She Dreams She Dreams in Color” is the nod to Van Der Graaf Generator. Only instead of David Jackson’s saxophone being the instrument of interest, it is Matthew Parmenter’s violin. Slow and haunting, this is one tasty number.
The previous two tracks would be enough to satisfy your Discipline jones, but the best is yet to come. “Rogue” is the big epic we have been waiting for. All the stops are pulled out. Ups, down, twists, turns, mellotron, unusual time signatures, over the top theatrics, and superb musicianship. There are many parts that remind me of “Unfolded Like Staircase” along with some new dynamics. At 24 minutes it would be easy to get bogged down or lost, but “Rogue” keeps you riveted. It’s one hell of a piece and is worth the price of the album all by itself.
The band has come back and they do not disappoint. The music isn’t vastly different from their old material, but it’s just as good. “To Shatter All Accord” actually seems to blend the approaches of the first two albums. It is part collection of songs and part concept. I also feel it necessary to single out John Preston Bouda. The man has never sounded better, and that is saying something. I have always been impressed with his guitar work and he has now reached another level. From his soft strumming to his blistering solos, it is just plain beautiful (don’t take any offence Paul, Mathew and Matthew, I still hold you guys on a pedestal as well). Do I need to say more? No, just go buy the album.
Matthew Parmenter – vocals, keyboards, violin
Mathew Kennedy – bass
Jon Preston Bouda – guitars
Paul Dzendzel – drums, percussion
*Available at Band Camp, Syn-Phonic and iTunes