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The Flower Kings - Banks Of Eden CD (album) cover

BANKS OF EDEN

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

4.09 | 615 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
3 stars I've put this off long enough I guess.

As a dedicated fan of this band (I am a frequent poster on the Flower Kings appreciation thread in the forums, as well as the Flower Kings Yahoo group and other forums) , I was very much looking forward to their glorious return to recording and touring. I was excited to get my hands on the new album, and after 5 years to recharge their batteries, I figured they would probably have a very good album as a result, at the very least.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I heard this for the first time. Actually, knowing how prog albums can take time to grow (as did a previous masterpiece by this very band, Unfold The Future), I didn't think to much of my initial disappointment. However, after more listens than I can count, this album still disappoints me. It's not that the album is outright bad, it's just that I find it lacking in so much of what drew me to this band in the first place.

I keep hearing this is a "return to form" or some such, but I just don't hear that at all. It's a stripped down version of their former greatness, and it's lacking in the quirkiness and symphonic grandeur that they previously possessed. Another surprise for me is that all of Roine's lyrics, bar none, are dreadfully dark and depressing on this album (despite most of the music being in the typical upbeat Flower Kings style), which is a very unusual occurrence. He has has songs and parts of songs that used such lyrics, but never an entire album. Jonas Reingold's two compositions on the album do the opposite, however, and save the albums lyrics from being totally dark.

Numbers is almost as dull and plodding as my least favorite Flower Kings epic track, Monsters and Men, though does feature one brilliant symphonic climax in the second half of the track that almost makes up for the dull and dreary nature of the rest of the track (along with some excellent guitar solos from Roine Stolt). Despite my rather unflattering description, as a while it's not a bad piece of music.......I just find that it seems overstretched and that the melodies are not strong enough to maintain such a lengthy piece of music. A rare occurrence for the Flower Kings, to be sure. Moving on to For The Love Of Gold, we have a very typical Flower Kings upbeat song that renews my faith a little in this album. It may not be particularly new or original, but it does encapsulate the spirit of the band far better than the opening track. Pandemonium is probably my favorite track on the album, as it has quirkiness in spades as well as some drive and vigor, which is noticeably absent from much of the album. Some have complained about the vocal effects, but I think they suit the song well. For Those About to Drown is an average song that doesn't really leave much of an impression, despite repeated listening. Rising The Imperial is a lovely Jonas Reingold tune that has uplifting lyrics and a mellow symphonic grandeur that ends the short album well.

Speaking of short, I have the special edition, that features 4 bonus tracks. These are shorter, more "pop" oriented numbers that are all quite decent, though not anything particularly special.

What's interesting to me is that I find I like the album more when I incorporate these tracks into the main album, and place the opening epic next to last (I find the instrumental Illuminati makes a nice coda to the album). Doing this makes the album 76 minutes long, much like more typical Flower Kings albums. I like the that they kept the main album to around 50 minutes, but I find that on the whole the material just isn't strong enough to keep that short running time from seeming too long to me. Which is odd since their normal 70+ minute albums have never seemed too long to me.

After the incredible Sum Of No Evil album, I probably shouldn't be too surprised that this was overall a disappointment to me. Numbers didn't even improve when I saw it performed live (though the climactic point I mentioned earlier did come across more powerfully and impressively in the live setting). I had hoped that 5 years of other projects would have brought us something a bit more in line with their greatest works, but I guess even Roine Stolt can't crank out masterpieces indefinitely.

On the whole though, this isn't a bad album by any means, and despite my disappointment I can enjoy this from time to time. Though it will probably be relegated to the "once a year or less" pile with Adam & Eve and the second CD of Flower Power. Still, a fairly solid 3 stars is the perfect rating for this for me. Good, but in no way essential.

infandous | 3/5 |

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