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The Flower Kings - Back in the World of Adventures CD (album) cover

BACK IN THE WORLD OF ADVENTURES

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 653 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lukretio
3 stars Sweden, 1995: this is where it all began for one of the most prolific contemporary progressive rock bands: The Flower Kings. Following a successful solo album titled "The Flower King", guitarist/vocalist Roine Stolt decided transform his backing band (Tomas Bodin on keyboards, Michael Stolt on bass, Jaime Salazar on drums and Hasse Bruniusson on percussions) into a proper, full-blown act, and "Back in the World of Adventures" is their first full-length release.

Amazingly, listening to this record today (2021), more than 25 years after its initial release, one realizes that the classic "Flower King sound" that the band will become famous for, was already all there from the very beginning of their career. Strongly influenced by the classic era prog and in particular by bands like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis and Camel, The Flower Kings weave modern progressive rock sounds by injecting touches of jazz and blues and a healthy dose of pop/rock sensibilities into their music. Roine Stolt's guitar is the lead instrument of the ensemble, his playing sublime, both when he is soloing and when he is building riffs to lay the foundations of each song. Keyboard player Tomas Bodin is the other driving force behind the music, offering a varied and sophisticated palette of sounds and instruments, from piano, to Hammond organ, to Mellotron. Michael Stolt's bass is also very prominent (in a rumbling, Yes-like sense) and nicely complements Jaime Salazar classy performance. Meanwhile, Hasse Bruniusson, of Samla Mammas Manna fame, adds percussions, screams and assorted extravaganza to the final package.

In later years, The Flower Kings will add a more metallic edge to their sound, further differentiating themselves from the classic era prog rock they are so clearly inspired to. On this release, the classic influences are more prominent and adjectives like "retro" and "symphonic" capture well the essence of the album. Personally, I prefer the sound they developed on later records, which I found fresher and more personal than the slightly derivative music on the first couple of Flower Kings' releases. But "Back in the World of Adventures" is nevertheless a strong record, which will surely appeal to prog rock fans, especially those who look back with nostalgia to the glorious fasts of the 1970s.

"Back in the World of Adventures" also already displays all the positives and negatives that have regularly characterized the band's discography. Among the positives, there is the excellent musicianship and the exciting, flamboyant playing that pervades the 10 songs of the album. There is also good variation across songs, spacing from the soft Beatlesian pop-rock of "My Cosmic Lover" to the edgier heavy-rock-cum-jazz of "Go West Judas", and including both instrumental tracks and songs with vocals. The arrangements are tasteful and the song structures are not overly complex, striking a good balance between prog sophistication and melodic accessibility.

However, the album also contains a few defects that, regrettably, are a constant in many The Flower Kings' releases. Above all, the Kings have often struggled to strike a good balance between quantity and quality, and this album is a case in point. Clocking at 71+ minutes, the listening experience is bogged down by the inclusion of a number of filler tracks that, albeit not terrible, feel rather dull and uninspired (the bland ballad "Train to Nowhere", the slightly uneventful instrumental "Theme for a Hero" and the sappy "My Cosmic Lover"). Self-indulgence is another word that might pop up rather frequently when one thinks about the band. Yes, their playing is great. But sometimes one has the impression that Stolt loses sight of substance when he writes his compositions. At places, the songs do feel like endless noodling rather than properly composed pieces of music (for example, the trio of instrumentals "Oblivion Road", "Theme for a Hero" and "Temple of the Snakes", which, with hindsight, should not have been all put one after the other).

Overall, "Back in the World of Adventures" is a good album, marking a promising start for a band that will eventually end up dominating the contemporary progressive rock arena. With the exception of "Go West Judas" and perhaps "World of Adventures", I wouldn't say that the album contains any classic, buy-or-die The Flower Kings track, and therefore it may not have the same strong appeal of some of the subsequent albums released by the band. But it does nevertheless offer at least 45 minutes of excellent progressive rock music, inspired by the greats of the 1970s but firmly grounded into the sound of the 1990s, and it undoubtedly deserves a spin or two if you are into classic prog.

lukretio | 3/5 |

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