The Sea Within is a prog rock ‘supergroup’ with an international cast of players, featuring three Swedes, one German and one American. The musicians in this band have all been around the block a few times, and their list of bands played in includes The Flower Kings, Flying Colors, Steven Wilson and Transatlantic. The band grew out of a desire by main man Ronie Stolt to attempt something different away from The Flower Kings so, with the help of several of his very talented musician friends, The Sea Within came into being in the autumn of 2017.
The problem when well-known musicians with a genre come together and form a band, or a supergroup, is the level of expectation from the fans … given the pedigree of the musicians involved, just how much can, or should, fans reasonably expect? However, on this album, fans will most definitely not be disappointed. The musicians involved have pooled their influences and considerable expertise to come up an exceptionally good debut album. There’s a whole raft of influences being drawn upon to make this album. Their prog roots are clearly in evidence but they incorporate these with a pop sensitivity in places, giving their music an occasional commercial feel, and they’ve done this through the use of some great hooks and melodies.
Opening track ‘Ashes of Dawn’ begins with a burst of riffs and gets the album off to a very powerful start. As befits the subject matter of the lyrics, the world’s economic plight, the music is heavy and it’s the most intense track on the album. ‘Eye for an Eye for an Eye’ is also a very rock influenced track, with Ronie Stolt’s guitar break a sheer delight. The longest track is the fourteen minute ‘Broken Cord’ which is sure to be a hit when the band begin ‘live’ performances in July 2018, as the band gets to stretch out in the middle with several minutes of some fine playing from all concerned. Jon Anderson, one of the best prog voices around, features on this track though you have to listen hard to pick him out. The most curious track, however, is ‘Sea Without’, a two and a bit minute instrumental with some sublime playing, though why so short when much more could have been done with it is unclear. The album then finishes on a powerful note with ‘Denise’, about a man saying goodbye to his lady because he’s in a prison cell and isn’t likely to be coming home anytime soon.
This is an album with plenty to recommend, featuring virtuoso playing, excellent contributions from guests like Jordan Rudess and Casey McPherson, plus some outstanding music. The last word should go to Ronie Stolt as he says “How to describe what we’ve done? It sounds like The Sea Within”.