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The Flower Kings - By Royal Decree CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.85 | 161 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars You know, it's true that this band doesn't get the love they deserve. This album came out in March, and artist Kevin Sloan is back on album artwork duty. I have listened to this album numerous times, and this album never fails to be one of the best this band has released. The artwork is typical of Kevin Sloan but just as gorgeous as always. The production and clarity of this album is impressive. It's evident that this was recorded in a big studio. The format of this album is balanced, with plenty of great material on both discs, making for an effortless listening experience. The tone of this album is reminiscent of their previous works, including Stardust We Are, Retropolis, and Unfold The Future. With this balance of old and new components to the sound of this well-structured album, it's clear that this album is deserving of a higher rating than their previous two albums. The album comes as a digipack, digital download, or vinyl for varied formats for different listeners who want different listening experiences. This album also features the lineup of the previous two albums while welcoming back old members, Michael Stolt and Hasse Brunniuson. The album features guest musicians Jonas Lindberg on bass (Jonas Lindberg and the Other Side), Rob Townsend on Saxophones (Steve Hackett), Aliaksandr Yasinski on Accordion, and Jannica Lund on Backing Vocals. When comparing, Waiting For Miracles and Islands to this album, it breaks out of that safety that Roine and the rest of the band forced themselves into. I can break down the "safety" of both Waiting and Islands into one word, typical. Waiting For Miracles was way more typical Flower Kings than Islands was, but By Royal Decree was very different from both albums. With the new release, you get less predictable sounds and songwriting from the band, mixed with good production, well-honed technique, and a warm atmospheric tone throughout the record. Opening with The Great Pretender was a good choice. For me, it took a while to love the track, but it grew after hearing it over and over. Ending the first CD with Revolution was also an intelligent decision, giving callbacks from the entire first disc and closing it off. I would've preferred it if the whole album ended with Revolution, but that's fine. To open the second disc, you get Time The Great Healer, similar in structure and emotion to The Great Pretender. Both tracks share similar themes but are distinctively different, so it doesn't seem like a copy track or reprise. At the end of the second disc, we have Funeral Pyres, a nice-sounding, warm track that seems like it could've been on Desolation Rose. All of these tracks have moments of brilliance, but the two tracks that stand out the most to me are A Million Stars and World Gone Crazy. Both songs are almost complete opposites; World Gone Crazy is a bombastic and fast song with solos, complex harmonic arrangements, and plenty of dynamics. A Million Stars is calm and slow, has gorgeous soft harmonies, and a tame atmosphere. This combating dynamic between both songs amplifies the purity of this double album. The same can be said of The Darkness in You and The Soldier opposite, but their combating themes work to make this album very dynamic. This album has unpredictable songs, such as Blinded, We Can Make It Work, and Moth. Blinded almost have a Steely Dan kind of jazz-rock tonality to Roine's guitar chords and tone of the guitar. We Can Make it Work is reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And lastly, Moth is a total return to form, returning to the era of Stardust We Are. Of course, there are also your typical Flower Kings tracks, like The Big Funk and Open Your Heart. However, even with these standard-sounding songs, they fit like puzzle pieces in this very different-sounding album. The remaining tracks I am yet to discuss are Peacock On Parade, Letter, Evolution, Silent Ways, and Shrine. All of these fit the typical sound of The Flower Kings and yet don't at the same time. Peacock On Parade is a warm but complicated piece with plenty of dynamics, vocal harmonies, and complex instrumental arrangements. Letter is a short, quirky, weird little vocal track with bizarre instrumental passages, very atypical of this band, yet genius. Evolution is a big instrumental song with very well-written arrangements by Roine and Zach. Silent Ways is a song in which Hasse takes over lead vocals and has an easy time with them. This song is also gentle and recalls a bunch of those aspects of "Islands" in that it has that same innocence and gentleness. Shrine is an instrumental, one-minute, pleasant piano piece by Zach Kamins; enough said. So overall, I have zero complaints; objectively speaking, this album is a masterpiece in the band's discography. I suppose the only thing keeping it at the bottom of the top three is... it's just not FlowerPower or Stardust We Are. However, it is a fantastic album by The Flower Kings, and with many remasters on the way, it's hard not to get excited.

5 stars / essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

ComaEcliptic | 5/5 |


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