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The Flower Kings - Stardust We Are CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.93 | 565 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars On this extensive double-CD set, the key to sorting out the wheat from the chaff is song length. The longer the song, the better it is. And I will not beat about the bush: the title song is one of the best epics ever written. Not the most original, but certainly the most beautiful.

The attractive thing about this set is how THE FLOWER KINGS gradually introduce the themes that eventually come together in the final track. Such a presaging is very much in the symphonic tradition. I love listening to a record where themes are introduced, varied and reprised; it never fails to please. This is such a record, if you're patient.

Yes, the flaws others have noted are definitely there. With THE FLOWER KINGS one gets a surfeit of music, an overabundance that makes it very difficult to take in the beauty and invention in on first, second or even tenth listen. I agree that the removal of a number of the tracks would make this more accessible, but then it wouldn't be an album from THE FLOWER KINGS. I want to be clear on this: I'm prepared to rate an album a masterpiece even if it has flaws. I'm interested in the best of what this band delivers, and their best is apparent on this album.

Especially on the final track. If you want to hear what symphonic progressive rock sounds like, play this. It is laden with melody, confidently organised in structure and just adventurous enough to demand repeated listenings. From the opening series of notes (repeated with variations twice more in the song) the track makes a statement. The last nine minutes of this song will undoubtedly send a thrill running through you. One after another the album's themes pour at you, making sense of the hours of music you've worked through, bringing it all to a climatic conclusion, then a cathartic close.

What makes this song great is what makes THE FLOWER KINGS an essential listen: guitar mastery, the willingness to play with time signatures, the combination and separation of instruments, judicious vocals, and sheer symphonic beauty. This may not be where your FLOWER KINGS experience should start, but it is certainly where it should end.

russellk | 5/5 |


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