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The Flower Kings - Desolation Rose CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 559 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Their best album in a long time. About 4 1/3 stars.

Their post-hiatus album "Banks of Eden" in my opinion was no more than just a good progressive rock album. It sounded generic and by-the-numbers (no pun intended), as if the band were on auto-pilot, with some hints of their past magic showing up on their surprisingly coherent epic 'Numbers' and also on 'Pandemonium'.

This album is a bit of a departure for the band, but is not quite the shocking overhaul some reviewers and the band themselves make it out to be. Nevertheless, the subject matter is noticeably darker as the usually optimistic band seemed to give up and rant about current state of affairs and negative prospects of our future. Compositions are more song-driven than the looser, instrumentally stretched out songs of earlier. The songs are shorter yet most, particularly in the first half, are connected as if were one song. I find the first 5 tracks or so more unified and stronger, but the second half is far from disappointment and the bonus tracks are hardly disposable. In fact, the instrumentals 'Psalm', '

As aforementioned, the album has a very good start. 'Tower One' is probably the best long compositions by the band since 'Devil's Playground'. It is a very tight, varied, and coherent composition with impeccable dynamics, memorable melodies, exceptional musicianship, and a sense of adventure. The band shows so much life here and I can't help but be impressed by a recurrent theme/riff that never sounds completely alike: '6:50' '7:30' '9:00' and the ominous '10:10'. I love the series of notes in that riff, particularly how it's played along avant-garde notes. Best of all is how the parts are so memorable, yet work best in context. It makes the song (and the album) among the most accessible in their repertoire while giving you some surprises on first listen. I never saw that fiery hard rock detour coming around minute 9.

The coherence spans across a few tracks. 'Sleeping Bones' only continues the magnificent epic and it's a very powerful song due to its restraint and dense atmosphere. I particularly love the beautifully sparse yet tense instrumentation in the first minute before the riffs get in gear. And about those riffs, they sure make a lasting impression! The song segues into 'Desolation Road' which plays the main melody of the album. It is a very high-quality short track and essential to the disc. You could almost imagine this being played on the classic rock station if it was released in the 70s. It works great as a single and in context, the aggressive hammond organ solo introduces voice sampling of Richard Nixon. 'White Tuxedos' sounds angry and sarcastic, almost has a mocking tone in its choruses. I love the energy the band displays in the last few minutes of the song.

'The Resurrected Judas' is a lengthy, melodic, and simply magnificent composition. It is obvious why it's generally considered a highlight by reviewers as it has everything we like about the band: strong vocal and instrumental melodies, proficient multi-layering of instruments, and powerful instrumental segments. 'Silent Masses' criticizes complacency and is a bit less successful due to weaker verses. However, the denser sound following the second chorus is well executed and the rest of the song is of higher quality. 'Last Carnivore' is such a good song. It's groovy with excellent choruses and rocks so hard in its ending. 'Dark Fascist Skies', as its title suggests, is not a happy song. It features great singing, hard rock riffs, and Frank Zappa elements. My disappointment is the crushingly dense instrumentation I was expecting from such a title never came. Also, the song is disconnected from the previous tune, even more so than the disconnect between 'Silent Masses' and 'Last Carnivore'. 'Blood of Eden' is also disconnected, why would they do that? We could have had a series of interconnected songs not seen since 'Garden of Dreams'. Anyways, I love how the last two tracks play out. 'Blood of Eden' gives you a glimmer of hope, but then 'Silent Graveyards' crushes it as it brings us back to the grim reality and the band repeat a powerful mantra 'In Silent Graveyards We Look for Saviors'. It's a gutsy move by the band but I personally love it.

Most bonus tracks are at least good, and some of the instrumentals could have been inserted into the main series of songs. Runaway Train is a good rocker with Transatlantic and Beatles influences. 'Interstellar Variations' is a masterful instrumental that slowly grows in passion, with wailing guitars and aggressive hammond organs as the climax. 'Lazy Monkey' is actually a disposable one. 'Psalm 2013' is gorgeous ambient music that should have been included in the main series of song as an interlude. 'Wailing Wall' is similar to the style of 'Interstellar' as it slowly grows from mournful guitar and organ to a passionate climax. 'Bad Beats' is a multi-faced instrumental of high caliber, while 'Burning Spears' blends their guitar-instrumental style with the apocalyptic post-rock genre, with great results. It's a shame it wasn't incorporated into the main disc. 'The Final Era' works as a last song in a bonus album and it fits there as 'Silent Graveyards' is a great ending to the main CD. You can't have two endings.

5 star songs: Tower One, Psalm 2013, Burning Spears

4.5 star songs: Sleeping Bones, Desolation Road, White Tuxedos, The Resurrected Judas, Last Carnivore, Silent Graveyard, Interstellar Variations,

4 star songs: Silent Masses, Dark Fascist Skies, Blood of Eden, The Wailing Wall, Bad Beats, The Final Era

3.5 star songs: Runaway Train

2 star song: Lazy Monkey

Zitro | 4/5 |


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