The concept of the “supergroup” is not new and in the progressive rock/metal circles this holds even more truth. The Sea Within are certainly no exception! The pedigree from guitarist and singer-songwriter Roine Stolt, keyboardist Tom Brislin (Kaipa, The Flower Kings), bassist Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Tangent), guitarist & vocalist Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), and drummer phenomenon Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani) is in the upper echelon of Prog rock royalty. With such high profile musicians are The Sea Within capable of crafting Prog Greatness or Prog Mediocrity? Let’s find out.
The album starts off with an impressive opener “Ashes of Dawn” that harkens influences from Pain of Salvation’s more recent work peppered with both bombastic and tasteful drumming courtesy of Drumming phenom Marco Minnemann. Out of nowhere a quite passionate saxophone solo by guest player Rob Townsend culminates into a Prog-Chops fest that appropriately announces the band has arrived and demands your attention.
“An eye for an eye” is where things start to take a change with a more overt 70’s influence that one would guess would surely be the work of Roine Stolt. Things in the later half of the track take on a few different layers with a jazz-ish piano trio part that’s more Chick Corea than Dream Theater.
“Goodbye” proves an inconvenient and somewhat jarring change of pace with the track featuring vocals via Casey McPherson. A great and tasteful singer in his own right, but after twenty plus minutes of vocals by Daniel Gildenlöw the change in vocals was almost too drastic. I was completely distracted and pulled out of the atmosphere by this decision. At only 4 minutes this track is tossed in almost as an afterthought, quickly getting out of the way for instrumental track “Sea Without” serving as a sort of bombastic intro to Beatles-esque “Broken Chord.” Honestly those two tracks could easily have been one epic Prog song!
And that is the predicament that The Sea Within finds itself. It seems to struggle to find its own identity through its mixture of 70’s drenched Progressive worship of bands like Genesis and Yes mixed with a healthy dose of Modern sensibilities like Pain of Salvation, Black Bozo, and even Big Big Train. At times beautiful, other times fun and even a bit silly, The Sea Within’s debut is most worthy of taking the time to dig into. While it could stand to shave off about twenty minutes of play time in hopes of being a bit more concise, the record is sure to find a rabid fan base. For a debut record of a self proclaimed supergroup, it will certainly not disappoint fans of these high caliber musicians.