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Roine Stolt - The Flower King CD (album) cover

THE FLOWER KING

Roine Stolt

 

Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 288 ratings

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progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Many people consider Stolt's The Flower King to be the first Flower Kings album. This is most likely because this album captures the essence of the Flower Kings sound. Also, core members of the Flower Kings are participants of this album, including Jaime Salazer and Hasse Bruniusson on drums, Ulf Wallander on sax, and Hasse Fröberg on vocals. But of course, the Flower Kings would take their name from the title of this album. But one important fact to remember is that Stolt is the only composer of this work and takes care of all guitar, bass, keyboard and lead vocal work. In a sense it feels partly like a solo album, and partly like a Flower Kings album. Think of it as a prototype or precursor.

The album starts off with the mostly-accessible, 10+ minute The Flower King. A charming song, fit for AOR radio play, and filled with psychedelic-inspired lyrics (a common Flower Kings trait). This is followed by the highly energetic and powerful Dissonata, with its driving bass lines and some masterful guitar work. This is the crowning jewel of the album and is one of the best songs Stolt has ever composed and performed. The Magic Circus of Zeb is a wonderful instrumental with some amazing guitar solos by Stolt. Close Your Eyes is a short ambient piece, comparable to the average Flower Kings filler. This leads to The Pilgrims Inn, another instrumental with excellent guitar work and some great sax playing. The Sounds of Violence is another instrumental, not quite as good as the previous one, but still a great song. Next follows what one would expect to be the best song, the 20+ minute, six-part suite Humanizzimo. Yes, it's a great song, but by the time you're more than midway through it, it starts to drag on and lacks the energy of the earlier songs on this disc. It appears to be about humanity and its struggles, partly Christian-inspired in its third part. Scanning the Greenhouse, the closing piece, is basically a reprise of the themes from the first song.

As mentioned earlier, this has a strong Flower Kings sound to it, but other influences include ELP, King Crimson, Kaipa, and Yes. It has very few dull moments on it, is a very enjoyable listen, and one of the best releases of the 1990's. Stolt's performance, not only as a guitarist, but also as a bassist and on the keyboards is extremely well done. The production is tight, and seems less sloppy than some of the early Flower Kings albums. The lyrics are somewhat nonsensical in places (just like the Flower Kings), but I've found his lyrical style to be charming. You also have to remember his native language is Swedish, so expect English translations to be off slightly, if not strange in places. Sometimes I find the lyrics rather humorous. I think The Flower King is better than the first two Flower Kings albums and a few of their later ones. I highly recommend it to symphonic prog fans, and although not a masterpiece, this is easily an excellent addition to anyone's prog collection. Essential for Flower Kings fans. Well worth four stars.

progaeopteryx | 4/5 |

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