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The Flower Kings - Paradox Hotel CD (album) cover

PARADOX HOTEL

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

3.72 | 395 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Deadwing12
5 stars Ah yes, the omnipresent Flower Kings, the stalwarts of modern progressive rock music as we know it. Led by outstanding composer/ guitarist / vocalist/ all around cool dude Roine Stolt, the band has clearly had its ups and downs over the last 10 (!) or so years. For every exciting, strong and coherent album they release (Unfold the Future), another album of thiers comes along to ruin the fun (Adam and Eve). I can easily say, however, that Paradox Hotel falls strictly into the former category, as this double album can be compared favorably to the greatest Flower Kings recordings and still hold its own.

I don't know if its the modern sound, the more streamlined song structures. the greater presence of piano and acoustic guitar...or maybe a combination of all three, but SOMETHING on this album helps to elevate even the "filler" songs to repeat status on my playlist, moreso than on any other Flower Kings album. From the strong opening of "Monsters and Men" to the uplifting happiness of "End on a High Note" (with some killer guitar playing by Roine Stolt, finally!), the first CD is a tour de force of retro progressive rock with a modern edge and some freaking KILLER melodies.

The epic "Monsters and Men," I will admit, had be feeling a little cold, but repeated listens have opened it up to me and now it is one of my all time favorite Flower Kings songs. Other notable songs on the first CD include "Hit Me With A Hit," a proggy little rocker with some great choruses and playing, and "Pioneers of Aviation," a soaring instrumental with a classic Flower Kings feel. The only song on the first CD, in fact, that still leaves me cold is the strange "Bavarian Skies," which is totally ruined by the low distortion used on Roine's vocals. A pity, but there's something to be said for a Flower Kings' CD with only one completely forgettable song on it!

CD number two contains no epic and is altogether shorter than the first CD, and thus not as strong, but still extrememly enjoyable and it works completely when complimented by the first CD. The opener, Minor Giant Steps, dispite it's somewhat corny lyrics, serves as a very strong opening statement, and leads into Touch My Heaven, which contains some very emotional vocals by Hans and some excellent guitar work (again!). Other highlights include The Unorthodox Dancing Lesson, with its we're-all-kinds-of-cool 13/8 time sig, and Life Will Kill You, another classic prog-rocker and one of the Flower Kings' strongest 7-minute offerings.

Paradox Hotel, unlike albums such as The Rainmaker, Stardust We Are, and Adam and Eve, works because even the lesser songs on the roster work just as well as the focal points. Songs like Lucy Had a Dream, Man of the World, What if God is Alone?, and others serve not only as strong transitions between more stately fare, but are also wholly strong, punchy, individual songs that can stand on their own far better than random songs on past Flower Kings albums. Moreso than most Flower Kings albums, I noticed that there were more memorable melodic lines, such as the opening of Selfconsuming fire, the bass in Pioneers of Aviation, the vocals of Jealousy, and the chorus of Man of the World, just to name a few.

A few words must be said about the actual musicianship on the album. I am extremely impressed with Roine's guitar work on this album, as many of the songs contain some of his truly best guitar work, whether it be beautiful acoustic melodies or emotional soloing (just listen to End on a High Note or Touch of Heaven and you'll see what I mean). Also, I am very glad that Tomas Bodin has opened up to the strong sound of a grand piano moreso than the other electronic sounds of his keyboards. The piano is able to give a more organic, wholesome feeling to many of the passages in the songs, and the album benefits from this greatly.

All in all, a very strong offering by the Flower Kings, far superior to much of their back catalog, and ranks up their with Space Revolver and Unfold the Future as one the best recording the band has ever done. Perhaps the greatest compliment to band stems from the feeling that even the filler does not feel like filler, but real, strong, developed songs. And as a compliment to the new Tangent album, A Place in the Queue, one can have hours of gorgeous, melodic, and emotional progressive rock to satisfy those quiet spring and summer afternoons (for that's when the Flower Kings' music works best).

5 stars! Excellent work!

Deadwing12 | 5/5 |

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