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The Flower Kings - Paradox Hotel CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.72 | 456 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars To 2006, and another double album from The Flower Kings. This album, probably more than most of the others, is the reason why I have taken so long to review the band's output since buying all of their works last year. It takes a long time to not only appreciate, but also to be in a position to make an objective review.

The first thing to say is that it is a wholly symphonic album, and if you detest that, there will be nothing here for you to change your mind. For those of us who love the sub-genre, it is a real treat. Rather than attempt track by track, I will list my highlights from this ambitious work.

As ever, the album is marked by the epic tracks it contains. The first is Monsters & Men, clocking in at over 21 minutes long. This takes a great deal of listening to, and patience is hugely rewarded. There are some sublime melodic moments, interspersed with at times incredibly quiet piano, vocals, and then heavier passages. When Stolt begins his vocal contribution, I swear he has never sounded better. I love the way that the climax builds down rather than up.

Jealousy is a beautiful ballad, where Stolt's vocals & Bodin's gentle piano complement each other perfectly.

Hit Me With A Hit is an uplifting, fast tempo treat, which I believe was released as a single.

Pioneers of Aviation is one of my favourite instrumentals of all time, not just by this band. Organ has very rarely sounded better in creating a thorough wall of sound, and combined with swirling synths and tasteful guitar, these combine to produce a great opening, which then morph into an altogether trippier feel, before developing into a pure rock out. The organ solo at the end is sublime. There is no greater compliment than to describe it as Wakeman-esque.

Selfconsuming Fire has a lovely acoustic guitar to open, and there are some sensitive and fragile vocals to follow, with mellotron backing to good effect.

End On A High Note is the second track of the album over 10 minutes long, and ends CD1 in exactly the way that the song title suggests. It is an incredibly catchy song, and makes me really wish that record stations & producers entertained the thought of 10 minute singles - if this were the case, this one would be a smash hit! If you are not tapping your feet and feeling incredibly happy at this one, you are no longer alive - simple as.

Minor Giant Steps opens CD2, and this one weighs in at just over 12 minutes long. This one, again, I find very uplifting, with some fantastic guitar work especially, fun synths, great vocal harmonies, and bass lines by Reingold just to remind us all just how good he is.

Man of the World is another great catchy shorter song, at just under six minutes. This one is definitely led by Reingold's bass guitar pounding away, and is at turns amusing and uplifting.

Life Will Kill You first attracted me really because of its poignant, and ultimately true, title. This is a heavy song, very much in the mode of classic 70's heavy rock, albeit with some strange sounding vocal effects in tow.

The Way The Waters Are Moving returns us to the very simple, and very effective, combination of piano & Stolt's vocals. A lovely, moving piece of music.

What If God Is Alone has the most incredibly moving opening section, with the band seeming to yearn for the answers to the ultimate questions and dialogue they pose with this entire concept of life's cycle - thankfully, when the lyrics/vocals arrive, they don't spoil this at all. Some of the finest seven minutes of prog you will ever listen to, the ending guitar solo is to die for.

Blue Planet at just under 10 minutes closes the album in quite some style, with lyrics in the form of a commentary which reminds me a little bit of Waters alien in Amused To Death talking about the planet in the past tense, but perhaps not so scathing or bitter as that opus. The music itself brings together nicely all of the strands previously evident in the work.

As with most TFK double albums, there are undoubtedly fillers, which do distract somewhat from the excellence of all else, including, I am afraid, for me, the title track, which strikes me as being an unnecessary harder track.

If the album were merely filled with the tracks I have discussed in detail, it would be pushing the ultimate five star rating. As it is, I feel it is a very strong four star album (4.5 stars in reality, but rounded down rather than up) and is very highly recommended to all who love that grandeur and supreme musicianship in their symphonic prog.

lazland | 4/5 |


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