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The Flower Kings - Paradox Hotel CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.70 | 567 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Very Mixed, but some Greats.

Roine Stolt has called this TFK's White Album, and while it is not quite as varied as the WA was for the Beatles, there is here a huge range in quality just as there was in the predecessor, 'Adam and Eve'. And at two full-length CDs, this is a very long album. Thankfully, this means that if you skip the duds, you still have lots of great music. Let's begin with the greats. I really like the long epic, "Monsters and Men". While shifting (like many TFK songs) between themes, this is very musical, with some great sensitive playing (both guitar and piano), and I really like the lyrics too. For me, this tune is essential to this album (but yes, it is pretty dense, so will likely take a number of listens to 'get'). "Hit Me with a Hit" is likewise a fantastic tune, combining complexity and catchiness effortlessly into an instant progressive rock classic. "Pioneers of Aviation" has a wonderful melody and nice build up, and "Self-Consuming Fire" reminds me of the great shorter tunes on Unfold. "End on a High Note" (which closes CD1) is a fantastic uplifting piece of music. "Minor Giant Steps" (opens CD2) is a very nice tune, similar in feel to "Life in Motion" from 'Sum of no evil'. "Touch My Heaven" is very compelling, one of Thomas Bodin's best vocal-based TFK songs and among the highlights on this album, as is "What if God is Alone", an extremely musical piece with a great build up, and some thoughtful interesting lyrics too (despite the subject matter). Finally, "Blue Planet" provides a beautiful, shining, life-affirming ending to this wonderful album. I also like "Life will Kill You", Hasse Froberg's song on this album, although not at quite at the same level as the other highlights. Taken together, if you add up just these good tunes, they are too long to fit on only one CD, justifying this as a 2-CD album. So, I can see why they decided to release it as such, and if they just included those tunes, this would have been up in the five-star realm. Now for the duds. The worst here is "The Unorthodox Dancing Lesson", which includes a rip from Crimson's "Lark's Tongues in Aspic Pt II". Seemingly meant as a joke, the tune is gratingly annoying from start to finish (at least for a Crimson fan like me), despite the fact its an instrumental! "Bavarian Skies" has some decent music (written by Thomas Bodin), but Stolt's lyrics, while intellectually thoughtful and thought-provoking, make the listener want to avoid this tune after you have heard it once. While some really like "Jealousy", I have a similar reaction to this one, although it does not turn one off as much as Skies. The title track is a throwaway inside-joke rocker, harmless but not exceptionally interesting. The few remaining tracks I haven't mentioned yet ("Man of the World", "The way the water are moving", "Lucy had a Dream", and "Mommy Leave the LIght on") are all decent, better than filler but otherwise also mixed in their effects, and so tempering the wonders of the great tracks. On the whole, I am really glad this album was made, as it contains some of TFK's most compelling tracks. I would very much recommend it to anyone who likes TFK. But I agree it is hugely mixed, and it will test the patience of many listeners who listen straight all the way through. I would recommend make a custom tape, cutting out the duds - that provides a much better listening experience allowing the best tunes to shine without interruption. But the strength of the many great pieces raises the overall average, I give this 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates as 4 PA stars.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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