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The Flower Kings - Unfold The Future CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 500 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Who says ''overblown'' went out of style?

In late 2007 I grabbed myself a copy of Sum of No Evil when it was fresh and new, and when I had only heard about The Flower Kings. At first I loved the disc and declared it to friends as ''the next bloody Close To The Edge!'', but soon, like high-school love turning into awkward uncomfortable greetings at lockers, I had grown out of the disc when I discovered some things that didn't sit well with me with repeated listens. I still liked about half the album, but that really didn't help much being that I'm someone who needs to like the album as a whole. So for a long while I didn't buy any Flower Kings, especially considering that the price tag for these guys is sickeningly steep here in the great white north of Canada. However, I finally got over my fears one day when I discovered that album in a record shop many hundreds of miles from home. It cost me about as much as a tank of gas (which in this day and age might as well be my right arm, I might add), but I decided that this was going to be all or nothing - if this album didn't impress me, The Flower Kings [TFK] were going to be a lost cause on me.

I was in for a great surprise. Reading over my review for Sum of No Evil there's a lot of problems that I had with that album that simply don't exist here. All in all this is a superbly executed album that has a lot of excellent hooks, solos and melodies to keep the listener interested, even after repeated spins. The songs aren't forced, the singing is top notch and the level of creativity is actually incredibly respectable. A lot of ''retro'' nay-sayers may not exactly have a soft spot for the style of music, but those who enjoy symphonic progressive music will really get a kick out of this album, especially if you also like jazz experimentation. While I haven't heard all of TFK's discography it's been said that this is their most jazz-oriented album, and I'd have to agree. There's many a jazz melody to pick up on, whether it be the rhythm section or the use of saxophone, and it never seems forced - which is quite nice.

The album is, however, disgustingly long. This is not a bad thing, really - but a lot of prog fans are the type to sit down and listen to any album from start to finish without exception (I'm one of these people), but you really can't do that with this disc unless you take a week before hand to schedule it into your calender. This double disc set runs at around 72-minutes per disc, making for a good two and a half hours of music - which is great if you're a fan, but casual listeners may be scared off a little. The easiest thing to do to solve this, however, is simply listen to one disc on one day and save the other disc for the next. This seems to work well in bringing down the ''wall of sound'' effect that listening to it straight through would have.

The album has a good mix of tunes ranging from full blown epic to quick and dirty rocker. In true prog fashion the album is bookended by dual epics, (one at the start of the first disc and one at the end of the second) which both flow incredibly well and never, ever feel too long (one problem that I had with Love is the Only Answer - it felt far too long). The Truth Will Set You Free is an upbeat 31-minute megalodon that features all the bombastic and virtuosoistic playing that the boys are known for, while The Devil's Playground takes a more heavy and experimental approach, attacking the audience with bouts of sonic blasts and silence. While those are the two feature pieces there's other great songs to be had as well. Monkey Business is a hard rocking tune with some rebellious lyrics, while Fast Lane features some odd vocal passages and heavy moments. Slow songs include the wonderful Black and White, which is accented by a wonderful tempo change, and the calm Grand Old World. The heavily orchestrated Man Overboard makes great use of Roine's unique voice while some of the instrumentals on the album such as the excellent The Devil's Danceschool make use of his ability to write and play. The new remasters of the album also feature the lengthy instrumental, Too Late For Tomatoes, which is one of the rare cases where I recommend that you get the remaster if only for that reason - this jazzed-up 10-minute instrumental is a blast!

Old school fun for any progger looking for some over-the-top fun. A good place to start with the Kings, being that it has some absolutely essential moments. On the whole the album gets a solid 4 stars out of 5 - an excellent album, although not quite an essential masterpiece. Highly recommended to people who want to know what these guys are about, although anti-''retro'' proggers may just want to sit this one out.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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