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The Flower Kings - The Sum Of No Evil CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars Beautiful melodic prog!

This is IMO by far the best record by the band. Music is imaginative, melodic, versatile.. there is enough air in between the sounds to really enjoy the musicanship. Songs are long (four epics 13-24 mins) and the band really cherises the musical material. This album rises Roine Stolt (the producer) into the big league. This is a great album and every symphonic fan should give it a try. Now I'll stop this review short and concentrate on the real thin and enjoy.

Report this review (#137840)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Flower Kings - The Sum Of No Evil Step-by-step impressions

Unsurprisingly, The 'Flokis' - as they're at times un/affectionately called - return with a new studio album often reduced to extol and criticism from head honcho Roine Stolt himself during its nascence. Hard to take the man's word for it as is usually the case; often don't we find creators or leaders (of bands mind you...then again...) need to not build up expectations? I certainly do. Anyway, onto the album itself. To me it's pretty standard material we've come to familiarize ourselves with over the years: lush albeit here and there dated keyboard patches, excellent guitar and rhythm sections, somewhat over-dramatized and maudlin lyrics/vocals, yet all not without their typically strong compositional eclat. Not much experimenting on this album: sadly, don't expect free-form jazz bits...although there are feels of such here and there courtesy of Zoltan and Jonas; plus, some World bits, most specifically, on Love Is The Answer.

Best tracks: Trading My Soul, Sum Of No Reason, Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)

The Songs Themselves:

One More Time: Very ELP-ish in some beginning bits, Zoltan's drumming was sorely missed on Paradox Hotel and it's nice to see him return to the fold. Big chorus but I can see how it could irk some, it reminds me a tad of the "bigger than America" chorus bit of The Truth Will Set You Free which I find particularly grating to an otherwise excellent 'opus' if you will. Lots of 6/8, lots of Retropolis-ish keyboard patches, nice frilly ending.

Love Is The Answer: The epic of the album...bits of World influence, Roine plays that electric Sitar guitar here and there...I forget its actual name. Opens with some nice vaguely Asian/Tuvan throat sounding keys and some fretless bass work, before launching into a kind of laid-back groove. Interesting metal - unless you just want to say distorted guitar - interpolation bit after the second chorus. I always liked their implementation of some aerophonic bits and a guest saxophonist comes in during a very Zappa-ish jazzy section. Excellent rhythm work as usual. A sort of minstrel middle section takes us into a synth-laden soaring keyboard solo. Traces of Yes can be found almost everywhere...but you knew that already. Homages to The Truth Will Set You Free lyrically and quite perspicuously. I'm uncertain if this song works necessarily with all its disparate parts, but it has great moments. Sax harmonic minor outro.

Trading My Soul: The dark ballad of the album a la Mommy Leave The Light On, Jealousy (?), bits of Garden Of Dreams and others I can't rightfully place. Lyrics are a bit much for me at times, as in the content is pretty drab, covered countless times, literal to the point of insult but again, this band is NOT listened to for lyrics. Nice melodies everywhere. This song actually reminds me a bit of Dream Theater's Disappear thematically and what with some underlying keyboard patches. Excellent bass and drum work (working the waltz aha) as usual.

The Sum Of No Reason: Much like with Adam and Eve, they seem to vacillate between which song should be the title track (originally Stolt wanted A&E to be called A/Love Supreme, I guess the Coltrane reference turned him/them off?)...and perhaps there was a similar bit here as I remember reading the album may have just been called Love. Another kind of heavy number with some interesting vibraphone keys in the quiet bits. Reminds me of bits in Circus Brimstone and Zappa during the heavy and instrumentally wirey sections. Shades of Pain of Salvation about 8 minutes in. Vocoder 'scarrry' sections a la Bavarian Skies aha...

Flight 999 (Brimstone Air): I suppose the 999 is an oh-so-clever clue-in of an air-line turned up-side down to reveal, gasp 666? These Swedes man...but I kid. The instrumental of the album...jazzy, circus-like, synth-laden (Lamb "Grand Parade" patches anyone?), drum-dominated, horse-ululating, wah-wahing, dynamically domineering. Excellent stuff.

Life In Motion: Very pedal-feel vamp track. Closer track, very Yes inspired and "Serious Dreamers"-esque triumphant sections.

And there you have it, scoffed at the five star rating mostly due to the lyrics and the 'been there done that' bits of their music.

Report this review (#137865)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This great new work of our Swedish friends actually scores 4.5 stars but since I consider some of their other albums even higher I give it 4. The first two songs are the best, as usually complicated and brilliant in their composition. I will have to listen to them some more to give it a definite review but that's nothing new in symphonic prog. The other great song is The sum of no reason also a long one and almost of the same quality as the first two. The other three are slightly less though still pretty good.

Unbelievable that one year after their double album Paradox Hotel they were able to produce another masterpiece !!

Report this review (#138747)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a very good prog CD one of the better ones I have heard this year but unfortunately it covers no new ground for the flower kings. I expected by what I had read about it for it to be more "lush" more symphonic and less Jazz orientated and to my tastes this would have been good but unfortunately Flower Kings can't help themselves without the typical throw away Jazzy noodling that to be honest has plagued their entire discography except perhaps their first CD "World of Adventures. Are they repeating themselves ? could have this material been on any of the other CDs they have recorded in the past ? I think so and despite this CD being very good and all it fails to find new ground for this its not worthy of being called great .. very good though just nothing ground breaking.

Don't get me wrong though there are moments of perfection on this CD they are short lasting but they are there.

Report this review (#138890)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to say that this is really a great album! I like them since ever, and I just saw them life at the Symforce Festival in Tilburg. Really impressive. The sound, the atmosphere, the jamming. They also played "Life in Motion" for the first time, and they convinced me that it's probably the best song of the album. The cd is a classic Flower Kings, this time just a bit more concentrated on the compositions instead on the improvisations. Beautiful the 25 minutes suite "Love is the answer", with a catchy vocal line. Something between "Yes" and "Zappa", if I may say. Probably the best symphonic band of today.
Report this review (#140426)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, what can I say? This is the best Flower Kings album in quite some time. After my first listen I found myself excited to hear it again. This hasn't really happened for me with a Flower Kings album since Space Revolver (I like all the albums since then, and love UTF, but they all took some time for me to really appreciate and none of them had that immediate impact that the earlier albums had had for me).

That said, it took several listens to really get a handle on the music. This is quite dense symphonic music with quite a bit of jazzy and complex playing throughout. Now I know Roine Stolt said they were tossing out the jazz, the pop, and the experimental stuff, but I think this album is almost a perfect combination of those 3 things along with pure symphonic prog. Probably the return (though it seems, for just this album) of Zoltan has a lot to do with this. He is, after all, a jazz drummer, and when he and Jonas get together the fusion chops tend to fly. But don't let this put you off if you were not a fan of UTF's jazzier excursions. There is no noodly improv on this album, everything is composed. And what compositions they are!

I wasn't sure about One More Time initially, as the vocal melodies didn't seem to leave an impression. But after about the 3rd listen, it started to sink in and I realized this was another FK classic. The instrumental parts I liked from the first listen, and they make this album on the whole. But these are some quite nice and interesting melodies that Roine has come up with this time. But just like any good prog album, it takes time to absorb these lengthy songs.

Love Is The Only Answer was another difficult one, as it doesn't have the kind of distinct sections and immediate vocal melodies of songs like Stardust We Are or even The Truth Will Set You Free. But give it time, and it will reveal itself to you as a great epic. Or, really, as just a really long song :-) It seems to be more that, than a "typical" prog epic type piece. Though having said that, it does have a fantastic majestic closing section on par with the best FK epics, like I Am The Sun or the previously mentioned ones. Did I mention Roine's fantastic guitar solos? They are all over this album, and they are better than ever. Again, great instrumental sections on this one.

Trading my Soul is the ballad like number, of the minor key variety. Not much to say about this one other than it is pretty effective and has another fabulous guitar solo at the end (too bad it fades out). Great vocals by Froberg.

The Sum Of No Reason is my favorite on the album, probably because of the somewhat darker nature of the song and the noticeable Zappa influence. Some really great vocal melodies on this one (though one of the main ones reminds me VERY much of a song by IZZ, though I can't recall the name right now), and the instrumental parts and solos are the best on the album! Check out the last couple minutes for some serious Zappaesque vocals and instrumental parts. Fantastic!

Flight 999 Brimstone Air is the only non-Stolt composition, being an Tomas Bodin instrumental. This is pretty much the Zoltan Csórsz show, and a great display of dexterous drumming it certainly is. Great instrumental track, probably Tomas' best contribution since Rumble Fish Twist. Simply Awesome.

Finally, we end with Life In Motion, a somewhat typical Flower Kings happy ending type of song. This one has the catchy melodies, the upbeat lyrics and even some more impressive instrumental sections to finish off the album in fine style.

This album has really restored the excitement I used to have for this band, and I can't say enough good things about it. While Roine said it was something of a return to the earlier days of the band (i.e. Stardust We Are, Flower Power), to me it seems more like a cross between The Rainmaker and Unfold The Future, leaving out the somewhat uninspired feel of the former and the improvisational excesses of the latter, and combining the best aspects of both albums (well, I didn't really mind the improvisational excesses myself, but some fans did). In any case, this is at top of my 2007 albums list.

A brief mention of the bonus tracks on the limited edition. They are decent, but not essential unless you are a hardcore fan (like me). I like them well enough, but probably won't listen to them anywhere near as much as the main album. I still have yet to watch the 2 short videos included, but I'm sure they are well done and interesting for a watching or two. Again, probably only for the dedicated fan.

Overall, this is a must for anyone who likes any of their albums. For someone who's never heard them, I'd still probably recommend something earlier (Retropolis, Stardust We Are, UTF) but this is certainly not a bad place to start. I really can't call this a masterpiece yet, as I think it is too early for such a call. But I also can't give it less than 5 stars because I like it so much. So 4.5 rounded up to 5 sounds right to me.

Report this review (#142106)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars For me this is by far the best symphonic prog album of the year, period. After Paradox Hotel I lost my trust in The Flower Kings (that doesn´t mean that PH is a bad album, but I think it was a little bit unisnpired and repetitive), but this happens to be again a great great album, full of big moments. I do like all the tracks but specially the opener One More Time and the last track Life in Motion, but I cannot forget the longest track, the epic The Sum Of No Reason with all its changes of ood and rithim and its wonderful final guitar solo. A lot of moments remind me of the YES and GENESIS of the seventies but TFK have their own way of looking back to that glorious decade for prog. I strongly recommend everyone to take a listen to it. 4.5 stars which I round up to 5 stars.
Report this review (#142120)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink

Well, the Flower Kings are back into their true form. They're dispelled the avante-gare inspirations of Paradox Hotel and are returning to an album very much like the Space Revolver or Unfold the Future albums. I'm a big fan of this, but I was hoping to see the Kings continue in that tradition a little more. THis is not to say that the album is not strong. Tomas Bodin's keys are magical and the whole album is fantastily arranged. It's great material with catchy sections ("One More Time"'s keyboard extravaganza). I would venture to say that while this album may be a return to the older Flower Kings, they've done a great job.

With that said, I can't give this album 5 stars becuase it is nothign newly impressive or stunningly monumental, unlike the landmarkingly different Paradox Hotel or the amazing Roine Stolt solo album The Flower King (with the exception of "Flight 999 Brimstone Air," which is remarkably innovative and fun to listen to).

This is an absolutely solid effort by the Kings, and an excellent way to build up any Prog Collection. HIghly recommended to fans of Symphonic Prog especially! Four rock-solid stars.

Report this review (#142128)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 Stars out of 5, rounded down due to inaccessibility.

Another stroke of genius. Vastly different from their darker and highly melodic Paradox Hotel and a nod to the jazz of Space Revolver, the happiness of Stardust we are, and the positive melody-writing of Adam and Eve. This album completely kicks out their tendencies to make an album-flow with short songs, intermissions and interludes. Instead, this is just a a set of long songs that stand on their own. Also, most of the acoustic delicacy and mainstream qualities and completely gone, which is both a positive and negative thing: it depends on your musical tastes. If you tend to enjoy more the easier-digested neo-prog and classic rock (not necessarily prog), this might be bad news. This album is very bombastic and has a big big sound and really does give you any breaks to catch your breath. It's constantly bombarding you with intense music, whether happy or dark. Oh yea, this album is most of the time extremely positive, so if you're into the depressing tone of Pink Floyd, and Porcupine tree, the sugary flower-power, peace-love for all tone in most of the disc might turn you off. Also, another warning is the inaccessible notion of "The Sum of No Evil"; it is very complex and sometimes choppy, which actually made me conclude that this was by far their worst effort in the first three listens. To sum up my next paragraphs and final impressions, this album contains some of the best moments of the Flower Kings which unfortunately may not always gel together or are consistently on the same lever to create a masterpiece like Space Revolver, and suffer from some bad lyrics (Cosmic Christmas Tree!?).

Luckily, the coherence and consistence is present in "One More Time", possibly the quintessential song of the Flower Kings' happy side. (The Devil's Playground being their dark side). This song features some of the most irresistibly sweet and catchy melodies I've heard since the seventies. With the first listen, it was an instant classic and the chorus is the one of the biggest sing-along choruses I've ever heard in melodic rock, period ... even if the lyrics are ridiculously cheesy. The melodies also extend to the melodies brought by the electric guitar and keyboard/synthesizers which sound very retro, bringing back memories of Steve Howe, Tony Banks, and Keith Emerson (Yes, he's got the old mini-moog!). Oh, did I say that Zoltan is back? You'll love his drumming all over his album. It's not as over the top as in Unfold the Future, it's just perfect. This is now the first song I will use to introduce my friends to progressive rock as it's accessible, poppy, musically rich, warm, inviting, and contains the ingredient of why the Flower Kings are sitting as kinds of this subgenre of Prog. also, I'll try it in my car during dates. ;) (A+)

"Love is the Only Answer" is the song that really has all the elements, pros and cons that I described in the first paragraph. It opens with extremely warm and melodic verses and another irresistible flower-power, "lets hug all each other" choruses which can't stop using the word 'love'. However ,don't get fooled, before you know it, you have Froberg and roine singing about monsters and evil with heavy metal and intense sinister musical arrangements: those parts are incredible! Then it gets happy, then it gets bitter and keeps alternating often. It's a roller coaster of emotions which is really hard to digest and at first listen it sounded like a new started every 3 minutes. Around minute 6 you will have a warm jazzy section and around minute 10 you have an over the top jazz-rock bombastic section with Zoltan pounding his drums like if he were not to play again. After that, around the middle, I should admit that I don't enjoy some of these parts very much as they lack great melodies. Around the last third, the happiness and melodies pick up again, the amazing melodies of the beginning resurface, and a long guitar solo serves as the climax, with a gorgeous saxophone leading the fade out. I think a bombastic "big" ending like the one in "Life In Motion" (more on that later) would have been a better choice, but the climax is still good enough and closes their best epic since Devil's Playground. (A-)

"Trading My Soul" is a much needed break from the "prog to the max" on the previous track and the "lets love, brothers!" tone of the first two songs. This one reminds me more of their melodic and darker "Paradox Hotel", except that they put many many small detals and layers all over the place, making it both dense yet remaining accessible due to the good melodies, standard song structure, and fantastic guitar solo. Again, subpar lyrics, what happened to the quality they brought in Unfold the Future/Paradox Hotel? (A-)

"The Sum of No Reason" also somewhat is described by the opening paragraph. The only difference is that this one is really coherent, but the quality is not really consistent. The first third alternates very melodic (yet darker) verses with quasi-metal and very intense moments. The middle is my favorite part by far (and the most inaccessible and choppy), with pure metal onslaughts, frantic singing that appear to be a reference to the ones in the middle of "Love is the Only Answer", and many different themes being introduces in short time intervals. A huge mass of vocal harmony is followed by the melodic beginning reintroduced with fantastic musical arrangements, and the middle of the song is concluded by vocal harmony writing that most bands would be jealous of its compositional brilliance and one of the best guitar solos in this album. The last third has some subpar (for this album) moments and some silly distorted vocals, but it's still good. (Between A and B)

"Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)" is the good cousin of their avant-garde and circus sounding "Circus Brimstone" from their "Stardust We Are" album. This one is goofier, funny, and completely over the top. The beginning alternates church organs themes with a funny-sounding synth which other reviewers described it as "a moog synthesizer being played through a theremin tube". Then, it gets goofy yet you could hear a sinister and plain scary distorted vocal going "Let me Die, Let me Die", and is followed by odd synthesizer chords and a punchy guitar riff. All of a sudden, the music stops except for some percussion and piano notes, which eventually grow into an out-of-this-world free-style drum solo, bizarre sci-fi and monster sounds (some taken from video games Doom and Quake), and busy avant garde arrangements. Bombastic, funny, and completely overblown and over the top: FUN! (A-)

"Life in Motion" is a very good track but not as great as any of the other songs in the album. The instrumentation is almost as great and carefully thought out as any of the other tracks, but half of the song lacks good vocal melodies. Actually, it's full of irritating vocal melodies in the verses with Froberg singing in a way that makes him appear to be suffering from influenza; the refrains are ordinary and dare I say predictable?. Luckily, after the big harmony "I'm the Forgiveeeeeer!", the song takes an upward swing and after the unnecessary silence, it's a progressive rock fan's best dream. It is Harmonically rich, gives a very powerful happiness force, and really has a very "the album is about to finish" climax like Yes' Relayer. The instrumentation sends shivers down my spine and Froberg sings his heart out with so much power that it releases all of the darkness and negative feelings away and you are left in a state of pure euphoria. (B or B+)

Get the album; listen to it ten times, even if you find it pretty bad the first time. It really grows on you.


_Vintage keyboards/synthesizers

_Balance between band members (the guitar is not as prominent as their first couple of albums)

_Complex and sophisticated song arrangements

_Beautiful melodies and harmonies



_Very much focused on traditional symphonic rock

_No filler whatsoever


_Hard to get used to it (not very enjoyable at first)

_Lack of acoustic piano/guitar which was a highlight in their previous album

_A few coherence problems and some parts being better than others

_Subpar Lyrics

Report this review (#142543)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What surprises me everytime, is that this band can produce such fantastic albums in less than 1 and a half year from previous ones!! May be I shouldnt be surprised anymore..

Concerning this new album, my opinion is that it is a very good one, with high prog music quality, which probably needs more than one listening to be appreciated in full, even if I feel its missing something. Special mention should be given to One More Time/ Life In Motion/ Sum onf No Reason, while I believe average rating should be given to Trading My Soul . Weakest song for me is the suite Love Is The Answer, which remains a good song but we have been used to much more symphonic finals which in this case are missing..

Limited Edition contains 3 songs which can be forgotten by non hardcore fans.

Report this review (#142718)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A nice release by Swedish veterans Flower Kings here.

On this release they seem to be taking the first steps to move on from what I have felt being signature aspects of their sound - the lighter, jazzy melodic happy songs - and are venturing into slightly darker, more epic and blues/hard-rock inspired territories.

Old fans will still find lots of elements they will be familiar with though, lots of melodic playing, soloing, instrumental and vocal harmonies, and jazzy touches. But less of the "happy prog" I've always associated with this band.

None of the tracks really stand out as instant classics in my opinion; but a good, solid release.

Report this review (#143420)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Complex, tight and dynamic ! (even though it lacks melody)

This package of "The Sum of No Evil" CD came to me altogether with David Gilmour's latest DVD "Remember That Night" and I decided to enjoy the CD first, because it's simpler: just play and listen; no need to watch. The Flower Kings is probably the most productive progressive band in the world who regularly releases an album every year - sometimes in a double CD format like their previous album "Paradox Hotel". In fact, when this album was ready for "pre-order" I was not aware at all until my colleague prog head reminded me. My initial reaction was: "Ha? Another album again?" Yes, I felt like the band releasing "Paradox Hotel" just couple of months ago and now another album is released.

Just before I spun the CD, I thought that the music would be harder than "Paradox Hotel" in terms of accessibility to my ears. It was not, really, because this album is as accessible as "Unfold The Future", "Retropolis" or "The Rainmaker" and it's not as hard as when I experienced with "Paradox Hotel". As usual, the music composed and delivered by The Flower Kings is complex, unpredictable, tight, dynamics, but it lacks "catchy" melody. Enjoying this CD is quite a challenge for me but I have accumulated experience in dealing with the music of The Flower Kings. So what I did in my adventure to comprehend the music, I tried to enjoy segment by segment arrangement especially on how all instruments build together nice and tight composition irrespective of the melody line. With this kind of attitude, I can digest this music faster so that I finally can enjoy - in its entirety - the whole album. Of course, it's not as easy as digesting Genesis' "Firth of Fifth" or "Fly on A Windshield" but I did survive with my adventure. The more I sun the CD, the more I wanted to repeat the CD starting back from the opening track.

One thing that made me really happy just before I spun the CD for the first time was knowing the fact that Zoltan Csórsz's back to The Flower Kings. Of course, I do not have any major issue with the "Paradox Hotel" drummer but the return of Zoltan does mean a lot to me. He is one of the best prog rock drummers I have known so far. The album kicks off wonderfully with "One More Time" (13:10) in relatively complex arrangement where guitar, keyboard and bass guitar work in excellent harmonies, supported by dynamic drumming by Zoltan. The keyboard sometimes sounds like a mellotron. Through this song I can sense a perfect combination of singing style between Hasse Fröberg and Roine Stolt.

"Love Is The Answer" (25:50) is the longest track and it combines many mood and style as the music unfolds. The guitar and keyboard solo are performed intertwiningly during the passages of the music and they have successfully made the music is quite densed in arrangements. Jonas Reingold plays excellent bass guitar work, while Hasse Fröberg and Roine Stolt contribute to build an excellent vocal line. There are parts where the vocal line reaches high register notes - like Robert Plant's voice and style. "Trading My Soul" (7:25) is mellow in nature and it has catchier melody line even though it's not as melodic as most people expect, I believe. In a way, this song reminds me to the first solo album by Roine Stolt.

"The Sum Of No Reason" (13:25) brings the music back into uplifting mode with high energy. In some segments the music is slowing down for taking a breath. It's really an excellent track. "Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)" (5:00) - is this track somehow related to "Circus Brimstone" track of Unfold The future album. This track is reserved for Zoltan to demonstrate his skills in drumming because it has relatively long "excellent" drumwork. "Life In Motion" (13:30) concludes the album beautifully.

Overall, this is a "true" progressive rock album that you should not miss. The return of Zoltan has made the music much more dynamic, especially when it's combined with Jonas Reingold's bass guitar work. Highly Recommended. Keep on progging' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#145541)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've been looking forward to the release of this Flower Kings cd since reading on their website from Roine Stolt that this album would be a return to a more Symphonic style of Prog. I'm pleased to say it is and after the disappointment of their last two releases, Adam & Eve and Paradox Hotel, we get a much more traditional style of Flower Kings record. After the shorter song format of their last album we get back to longer pieces with Love is the Answer clocking in at twenty five minutes, three tracks are around thirteen minutes and two shorter tracks.

I've held back a while from reviewing this album because I suspected it may be a grower. Fortunately I was right as on first listen it all went over my head and didn't really feel like anything had really stuck. But it's worth perseverance as after a few listens it's secrets started to reveal themselves and I'm now of the opinion that it's their best effort since at least Unfold the Future. The band are on fine form and special mention should go to Zoltan Czorsz for his excellent Drumming throughout. It's a shame he's no longer part of the band on a full time basis.

It's difficult to pick out favourite tracks as the quality is there throughout the album but thirteen minute opener, One More Time is as good a song for the band to state their return to a more Symphonic approach as any and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Longest track Love is the Answer is next and has all the twists and turns you would expect from a Flower Kings Epic. Strong melodies throughout and great instrumental interplay too.

As usual, Stolt shares vocal duties with Hasse Froberg who I think most people would agree is the better singer of the two. A lot of people think Stolt is a bit of an acquired taste and maybe he is but to fair he's not a bad vocalist at all. What can't be disputed though are his skills on the Guitar and is an excellent solo player in particular playing carefully chosen and well placed notes making his solos very melodic most of the time.

The more straight forward and shorter Trading my Soul is probably the weakest song here, not bad at all really but it's up against some stiff competition being followed by the superb The Sum of No Reason. Instrumental Flight 999 (Brimstone Air) is fun (not what the title might suggest) and Czorsz's Drumming is all over the place; excellent stuff! The album closes in fine style with another thirteen minute epic, Life in Motion. This track contains Froberg's strongest vocal of the entire record and a beautiful Guitar solo from Stolt is also worth noting.

After this superb release hopefully The Flower Kings are back on track again and stick to what they do best for their next release. A very strong four star rating and one of the albums of the year so far.

Report this review (#146095)
Posted Saturday, October 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Way back in the days of old (I may be ancient but I have the musical heart of a teenager) groups like Yes or Mahavishnu Orchestra would put out a new album and it would take even their diehard fans weeks to wrap their brains around it and eventually come to fathom its soul. It's been a long time since that's happened but, with my acquisition of "The Sum of No Evil," I have experienced that phenomenon again. I knew of The Flower Kings from this site but until I heard Roine Stolt's exceptional guitar work with Transatlantic I was never inclined to delve into their catalogue of music. I figured I'd start with their newest release and then work backwards if I liked what I heard.

After the first run-through I didn't even know if I liked it or not, much less whether it was good. My initial thought was that their stuff was complicated just for complication's sake. Wrong. I stuck with it, peeling back the layers one by one and now I consider it to be a fine example of modern-day symphonic progressive rock. Without intimating in any way, shape or form that they are some kind of a derivative copy-cat band, imagine combining the orchestral sensibilities of Yes and Genesis with the eclectic notions of Frank Zappa and the jazz/rock fusion leanings of Return to Forever and you'll have an inkling of what this album incorporates. This is some kind of amazing, my friends.

They start things off with what may be the best cut on the album, the fantastic "One More Time." Within seconds you are greeted with a memorable theme roaring straight at you in state-of-the-art high fidelity as these guys strap you into a roller coaster ride that is full of twists and turns. Before you know it you're cruising through a jazzy section that features incredible dynamics and an arrangement of varied musical ideas that almost defies description. One look at the album art will tell you that there's a nostalgic 60s aura floating about but in most cases that spirit is confined to the lyric content so try not to roll your eyes when you hear lines like "play that song just one more time/and we'll bring back memories/of kingdoms in the sun." Once you get on board with the framework it's presented in it doesn't seem so corny after all. Again, I urge the listener to be patient and give all of this time to sink in. The melodies are intricate and unconventional but as you grasp the totality of what they are doing you start to discern the forest from the trees. Trust me.

"Love is the Only Answer" is the longest epic here and the hardest thing for me to get used to at the outset was the rougher vocal style of Roine in contrast to Froberg's smooth singing. It's different, that's for sure, but in no way is it bad. Early on I would urge you to notice the fine bass guitar tones and stylizations of Jonas Reingold throughout the proceedings. After a heavy section Ulf Wallander's soprano saxophone is a wonderful surprise. Stolt has an admirable Frank Zappa attitude towards guitar leads and it makes the jazz/rock interlude he plays over a magical moment. Things get quieter, then the drums lead you into a synthesizer sequence from Tomas Bodin that would rival anything by Rick Wakeman. Without Tomas' exceptional contributions from beginning to end this album wouldn't be anything close to being as great as it is. He is a master. An aggressive vocal section ensues where lightning-fast Zappa-ish lines zip hither and yon before Roine steps forward and delivers a blazing, passionate guitar lead that will curl your hair. The fluid soprano sax flourish at the end just goes to show that you'll never get a chance to become bored with this album because you never know what's coming next.

"Trading My Soul" is a drop-dead gorgeous ballad. Bodin's cavernous keyboards give the song a huge atmosphere that fits perfectly in this tune about a death dream. Stolt's raspy vocal is well-suited for lines like "not the end, but I sense it is near/I'm in limbo between earth and sky/I can see all your houses from here/but don't you tell me that this is dying," he pleads. But it is Roine's emotional guitar solo that will pin you to the wall. It is riveting and not to be missed.

"The Sum of No Reason" is next and it's refreshing to hear Froberg's velvety vocals again. Here the group seems to channel a King Crimson vibe (always a good thing) as they assume an edgier stance and sprinkle tight, stabbing accents all around. Again, it's nearly impossible to put into words how awesome what this band is doing sometimes but you'll encounter passages that just make you shake your head in wonder and this track has several of them. It "takes a lot of strength to stay insane," he sings but I can assure you that this is far from crazy. It borders on genius.

Bodin's instrumental, "Flight 999 Brimstone Air" offers a bit of levity at this point with its cosmic Star Trek-styled theme but there's nothing frivolous about the drum performance of Zoltan Csorsz at all. He is spectacular throughout the CD and here he gets to shine. He demonstrates that he belongs in the upper echelon of prog percussionists without a doubt. The whole piece culminates in a big time, over-the-top concert ending.

Rolling jungle drums provide the intro to "Life in Motion," an epic cut that brings to mind the glory days of Yes. That's not a compliment I bestow lightly, I assure you, but this group deserves the honor. I won't go into more adjective-filled details but I can tell you that it's brilliant. It embodies all the superb qualities of the band's individual musicians and the song structure is challenging yet rewarding when it sinks into your psyche after repeated listens. The tune climbs higher and higher in intensity until they reach the peak with the heart-felt chorus of "it's like coming home, coming home again/the further we go, the closer we come/there's one chance for everyone/one love/one heart/one chance." It's hard not to feel inspired once the gigantic finale fades away into the distance.

If their older material is as impressive as this release then I've got some investing to do, I can tell you that. I had no idea these Swedes were this fantastic. According to the liner notes they recorded it in one month. Good grief! I'll wrap this review up by saying this album is almost as good as it gets in symphonic prog and if that's your bag then you should have this in your collection. It will blow you away. 4.1 stars.

Report this review (#148192)
Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well, first of all, SUM OF NO EVIL it's a The Flower King's album, and as such, don't expect to hear anything but traditional TFK music, classical symphonic-prog played with the biggest passion, by some of the best musicians in the "business" (as people call the music world). If you come here waiting to listen to post-rock elements or incredibly revolutionary structures and harmonies and rhythms, well, you'll be disappointed, and it won't be TFK's fault, but yours, as the Swede band has proved with 9 previous albums that THIS is what they are, and THIS is what you can expect. But if you purchase THE SUM OF NO EVIL looking for lush, great melodies, huge songs with instrumental parts every second, a peace-and-love message delivered through true fountains of musical colors, then you're in for a great ride, as the album lives up to the expectations, if maybe doesn't manage to surpass them.

As opposed to PARADOX HOTEL which was probably one of the most accessible TFK's albums to date, THE SUM OF NO EVIL takes more listening sessions to start to get it, to start to love it. There are only 6 songs, four of those last more than 12 minutes and one of them more than 20. Not only that but some avoid traditional structures and playing the melodic-chorus card. There's a lot of instrumental moments scattered through the album, with enough jazz, fusion and typical "prog-rock show-off" to satisfy even the most demanding classical prog-fan.

As always, the band proves that each and every one of them is at the peak of their respective instruments' level of playing: Bodin with his generous, playful keyboards; Reingold with masterful jazzy bass lines that showcase him as one of this generation's greatest; Csorsz with incredible, amazing drumming that leaves the listener wondering why he's not included in best- of lists; Froberg with his ever-improving voice, vocals that really speak of love and peace, soaring towards the skies. But of course, the absolute master is the mastermind, Roine Stolt, whose guitar playing is nothing short of beautiful, his singing precise for his purposes, and his composing-skills in the same level as the best musicians in all prog (in all ROCK). The man has a vision, has stuck with his vision since he start back when he played for Kaipa, and constantly delivers huge opuses full of music, of colors, of living noises. That he manages to record 70+ min. albums almost every year (oftentimes DOUBLE albums) is only further proof of his passion for music, and his mastery of the art.

A REALLY brief mention about the songs:

One More Time (9.5/10) A masterful song with great melodies, a sticky chorus (try it twice at least) which is one of the best moments in the album.

Love Is The Answer (10/10) The big monster, the 25-min epic, the best song in the album (and among the best monster-epics in all TFK). It takes a while to start to get familiar with it. Remember: repetition, memory play probably the biggest part in our appreciation and love for music. Give this gigantic kaleidoscope a few tries, and you'll discover the art behind the sounds, the beauty behind the solos. A masterpiece.

Trading My Soul (8.5/10) A great track with a distinct flavor. Fails to grab my affection after a few listens, but it's very good.

The Sum Of No Reason (9.5/10) Another brilliant long track. It's clear by now that 10+ minute songs are what TFK do best, and they show it. The lyrics are rather unusual for TFK, as they don't speak of love but criticize, point out issues (religion, etc.) Stolt has done it before, he does it again.

Flight 999 (Brimstone Air) (9/10) An instrumental piece that paints the picture of a flying.van? You can hear the influence of Rimsky-Korsakov's classic "Flight of the Bumble-Bee" from THE TSAR ZALTAN here, and we would think we're hearing a little fly wondering around, yet the picture in the cover makes us think: is it a flying. van? No problem, anyway we fly with it.

Life In Motion (9/10) A great closing to a great album, near the end the song, which was not too optimistic, becomes overly optimistic, and we're conquered, again, by the light that Stolt and his team can produce in all of us who desire to listen.

All in all, an album deserving a 4 out of 5.

Recommended for: every lover of symphonic prog and classic prog. Every music fan who really wants to hear music being BORN.

.The Flower Kings are the sum of all virtues a band can have.

Report this review (#149312)
Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This latest "TFK" album does not hold any surprise IMO. Same intricate pieces of music as usual, some deadly guitar soli, a jazzy mood at times, some beautiful vocal harmonies of course, an ultra long album (including ultra long songs) like always, peaceful and tranquil vocals.

The central piece of this album is the archetype of all these features. "Love Is The Only Answer" owes them all. I particularly like the emotional guitar play. But to be honest, it is similar to many "TFK" songs. It could have sit on "Back in the World of Adventures" (their first release in 1995) as well.

I like this album more than several other ones from the band ("Flowerpower ", "Space Revolver"). But "The Sum Of No Evil" does not shine by its inventiveness nor creativity. All these songs sounds heavily as déjŕ vu, although it is a rather pleasant moment. Probably one of the most symphonic album from the band.

This is the side that has always pleased me more with "TFK". While they sound so sweet (almost mellow). Poignant guitar and melancholic vocals : I couldn't ask for more. Especially that the whole of this album shows this tendancy.

Unlike previous albums, there won't be too much waste in here (but this is ONLY a single album, right) ? The opener "One More Time" is probably the song that I like the least. The most beautiful being the short (according "TFK" standards of course) "Trading My Soul".

The title track is the most difficult one to get into. Lots of off-beat rhythm, jazzy mood, typical keys sound like we've heard dozens. Nothing new under the sun. To cut a long story short, it is impossible that this song won't be appealing to any fans of the band (including myself).

On the contrary, the chaotic instrumental "Flight 999" can only please "TFK" maniacs (to which I do not belong). These five minutes are too irritating for my ears.

Fortunately, the closing " Life In Motion" reverts to the best "TFK" I want to know. Fully symphonic (even if this particular one is a total "Yes" rip-off). But we are used to this, aren't we ?

IMO, this "TFK" album is a return to their symphonic roots. And I like it very much. If it were their debut album, I would have rated it substantially higher (nine out of ten probably). But after so many albums of the same, seven out of ten sounds reasonable (or 3.5 stars when this rating will be available). Till then, three stars.

I'm looking forward to go and see them live next week Tuesday (November 13th). Since they will play most of this album, it can only be a good concert.

Report this review (#149734)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Zoltan is back! One of the key components of The Flower Kings' glorious rhythm section on their masterpiece Unfold the Future, drummer Zoltan Cszorz, recorded drums for the band's latest out put, The Sum of No Evil. Ulf Wallander is also back to play some sax as well! A typical TFK output, a full disc of music including a 24-minute epic and three tracks over 10, the group runs their signature hippy-happy goopy prog rock. After several albums of experiementing with new sounds and styles, the band returns to their roots with this one. While not introducing anything new to their sound, though they did record this whole album using strictly "vintage" instruments, the group lays down a really solid record. It's more consistent than their past two albums, Adam & Eve and Paradox Hotel, and it manages a few moments of equivalent greatness as the high points of those records as well. While the lyrics are probably the cheesiest and most pedestrian lyrics they've ever written, even at times embarassing, the music is consistently good or better. The opener, "One More Time" has several fantastic instrumental passages and the epic, "Love Is the Only Answer" lays waste to their last epic, "Monsters & Men," which is still a pretty good song. This epic has the instrumental goodness, both powerful sections and quirky ones, and a majority if the best vocal passages on the entire disc. While it's most peppy, the band used one of the shorter pieces, "Trading My Soul," for a slow, dark song. It's nothing special until Roine tears it up for the last couple of minutes. Then we move into "The Sum of No Reason," which along with the epic is a highlight of the album. It's got some metal, the rest of the great vocal passages, and more creative passages. The other short piece, "Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)" is a really quirky and really fun instrumental piece. The closer, "Life in Motion," is the weakest of the longer tracks, but it gets pretty good toward the end, again, thanks to the guitar genius.

This band, despite sounding terribly goopy or cheesy, gets me every time. They really are a great band. Most of their albums aren't without serious drawbacks, but often the good outweighs the bad. The Sum of No Evil is another such case. It manages to be another solid record, but with this return to a traditional sound and a poor set of lyrics, one has to wonder how much fuel the band has left to run that musical hippy fish bus. We'll just have to wait and see what comes next.

Report this review (#150793)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Sorry but this is hardly bearable!

I mean everytime I take TFK’s album I know what to expect: top-notch musicianship, catchy melodies, YES-like “jolly” mood (this is what I dislike about them most!) and 20-min long epics…I had some hopes for this one after so many positive reviews, but not. The same thing over and over again, just a little more YESy this time. Can anyone advise Roine to sacrifice the idea of song’s length for its own sake? Shorter tracks sometimes work better, you know. Unfortunately, this is kind of problem I have with ALL albums from TFK. They’re TOO Prog-leaned, too Retro-wannabee-sounding, too similar and too long after all. A good example of how timing ruins the music (which is sometimes very good and even quite original in moments). I give up here and promise not to return to TFK in nearest feature. Otherwise I’ll lost my faith in contemporary Symphonic Prog forever.

PS: but packaging is astonishing to say the least! Ed did a great job!

Report this review (#152784)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars *Cracks fingers in a devious manner* okay, here we go.

When this album came out earlier this year it was followed by much praise and worship. I read some reviews, checked out some reviews on their other albums and decided if had the chance I'd pick it up. That opportunity happened a couple weeks ago when I found this album staring at me from from the store shelves. Excited, I bought the album hastily and threw it into the cd player. At first listen I was blown away, I thought I'd discovered the next CTTE.

However, a few listens later and that feeling has more than worn off. This happened when I realized a couple things. First, this is not a very original album. Every sound and atmosphere has been used before by some other band, and better. The soundscapes owe a lot to the like of Yes or Dream Theater, which really isn't bad. But this doesn't just sound like the influences, it IS the influences. They've basically just taken some music that Yes could have recorded and added some (poor) vocals over top of it. Second, The songs are (and this is very unlike me to say) TOO LONG. There's not nearly enough ideas here to evolve a song such as JUST ONE MORE TIME or LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER. The latter of which (the 24-minute "epic") turns out sounding like a very very long short song. Now, granted, these songs do have some very good speed changes and instrumentalism, but it's often misplaced or not developed well enough.

This is not to say the album is bad, after all I did give it a "good" rating, 3 stars. While they may not do very original material, what they do, they do well. The music is solid, the playing is tight, and there is a lot of genuinely good music to be had on here. Often on this album the band is at their best when they're acting strange, making quirky music. FLIGHT 999 BRIMSTONE AIR and THE SUM F NO REASON are both very good songs and are standouts on the album. What they should have done is stuck primarily with this kind of music and made the Yes-esque music the lesser part.

Now... I must attack the vocals. As stated before, one of the only things that sets this band apart from what theyre trying to copy is the vocals. While sometimes well delivered, many other times the vocals sound WAY too strange. This is likely because the band is Swedish, and kudos for being multilingual (me being a good ol' English canadian only capable of speaking one language), but shouldn't the producer have said "try that take again, your voice did something weird there". However, I do respect them for making the most of what they have.

Okie-dokie, conclusion time. While this is likely the best place to get introduced to this band I wouldn't really recommend it. It's definately some solid Symphonic-Prog that's a very enjoyable listen, but if you're looking for something very fresh and new sounding while still prog this is definately not the album for you. 3 stars, good album, definately no masterpiece, but good.

Report this review (#154425)
Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well - it seems - it's the same old story, talking about the music development of the album, which is a solid composition by Roine & c. but it doesn't "grow" after listening to it for several times...don't get me wrong, the accurate arrangements by Roine, as well as their continual good inspiration (resumed into a bunch of classic prog references, above all referred to Steve Howe and Yes of the Golden Age) make this recent album another interesting "progressive prototype" of the seventies!! Nevertheless this is the right point, We are in the 21st century and if you want to focus on their music ideas or start an intelligent discussion about it, perplexed you could remain: as a matter of fact in the course of 2007 I've appreciated some works from the USA, such as the last effort by Glass Hammer for example and besides always loved some experimental works in the recent years, like those ones produced and well arranged by a few European bands in the vein of F. Zappa (I think of After CRYING for instance or Isildurs Bane).. but the experimental or the modern works consist of various attempts to make a renewal of the old classic prog models, being anyway filtered through the experience of a "modern" musician. This is the achievement ( regarding every point of view) as well as the main settlement of the bands mentioned above - and I can' t say the same thing about F.K....I think of some works by Echolyn (whose masterwork "Suffocating the Bloom" has not been ever brought to the same level by any modern ensemble in the nineties) and of a few other fusion prog bands in the vein of Niacin for instance...Tomas Bodin likes to emulate the style of Zappa during some keyboards performances (do you remember Eddie Jobson?!...), but his compositions are controversial, such as in the instrumental "Flight 999 Brimstone Air", where He tries to overdo. Then if you think of a tune like "Trading My Soul", the puzzle is complete. My suspect is that their long-date fans want to hearken to everything which s similar to a classic prog work rather than being more involved in the research of a revolutionary band nowadays!!

This is my opinion, but probably many other prog listeners will choose the present work anyway...

Report this review (#154725)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one good progressive album, to me it's even the best of the year. The only thing about this album is the lack of songs not written by Roine Stolt. I like what he does, but a little diversity is always welcome. Anyway, this album still deserves 5 stars because of the incredible quality of music. Every track is great. I like the fact that Roine's guitar is well balanced with the rest of the band, and not too present like it's already been. I've even been impressed by the quality of the lyrics (which is not Roine's most developped talent), there is only one weak line (I've been circling like an hobbit around that cosmic chrismast tree). This album is what prog's all about. A must have.
Report this review (#154763)
Posted Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
5 stars Their second best work so far (after Unfold the future)? Yes, i would agree with that. In their career so far they have some up with three masterpiece albums: Unfold the Future, Flower Power and The Sum of No Evil; all of these deserve five stars, and here's why:

They have managed to create a perfect hybrid between many genres over the years, and TSONE is no exception. This time they have somehow created a cross between Yes and Dream Theatre, with the incredible melodic side of Yes and the heaviness and complexity of Dream Theatre, and it went down very well indeed with me!

Here's my usual track-by-track analysis:

1. One More Time - Starts with a very nice Leccy Piano melody, and breaks into the song with a bang! Some typical Stolt guitaring here that I've grown to love and a rather large nod to the legacy of Yes. A great opener - 9/10 2. Love Is The Answer - The best track on the album. Purely symponic, but this contains some great influence from the heavier side of prog. Fantastic all-round musicianship, especially from Thomas Bodin, and most of all some marvellous Floydesqe progression in place. The fashionable second track by the Kings - 10/10 3. Trading My Soul - Incredibly nostalgic of Genesis. Starts of with Bodin and Stolt singing semi-acapella, kicking in with drums and bass, very much reminding me of Blood on the Rooftops. Easier listening of all the tracks, and very contrasting to the first two - 9/10 4. The Sum Of No Reason - Some more amazing progression in this one. Another nod to the heavier side of progressive metal, probably picked up from the time Stolt spent with Portnoy in the great project Transatlantic. The second masterpiece of the album, many rhythm changes and should be very enjoyable to all prog fans - 10/10 5. Flight 999 (Brimstone Air) - Absolutely insane. Some of the best jazz drumming I've heard in a long time, reminds me of Too Late for Tomatoes off the Unfold the Future album. enjoyable for people who like quite surreal music and strange keyboard sounds and effects. The weaker track on the album, still good however - 8/10 6. Life In Motion - An excellent finale. The clues in the title: it pretty much sums up the whole album, taking influence from both classical and jazz, also good lyrically. the third masterpiece of the album, and probably second best - 10/10

Overall score = 93% = 4.6

5 stars, undoubtedly, essential.

Report this review (#158507)
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Definitly this is one of their best work since Space Revolver. and a much better efford then the previous one, the rather insipid and uninspired Paraddox Hotel. I was hoping for something good since I headr their ex drummer Zoltan Csörsz was back, together with founder member Hasse Brunniusson. But actually The Sum Of No Evil has exceeded my expctations (which, by the way, were not that high).

From the first notes of One More Time you can feel the difference from most of their recent releases. This album abounds on what they have been lacking so much: conviction. The band now plays with such a joy and energy you really cannot help but remember of their great works during the 1990´s. The symphonic sound (with great influences of Yes and King Crimson) is back in all its glory and Roine Stolt is again playing those trademark guitar solos that made him one of prog´s most celebrated latter-day heroes. His songwriting is again in full force. Ok, this is no Retropolis, neither Back To The World..., but, boy, does it comes close to their spirit! the overall sound is complex, melodic, creative and very well crafted.

It seems the muse is back: Roine and Hasse Frömberg vocals are soaring with passion and sincerity. Tomas Bodin´s keyboards are as sharp and creative as they used to be (lots of Hammond back again with some inspired mellotrons too). First two tracks are the best ones in a long time, but the rest, although not as strong, are very good too. And, surprise!, no filler at all. I really wish those guys keep delivering such strong stuff from now on.

Conclusion: their best after a long time. 4 stars at least (it´s hard to beat their strongest albums, I know). If you´re losing any hope you´d ever see another great album by this band (like me) give The Sum Of No Evil a shot. You won´t regret it. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#159724)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have a strange take on the Flower Kings, a sort of schizoid thing I just can't shake. On one hand, I buy TFK albums due to one simple reason: first & foremost Jonas Reingold's magic bass guitar just floors me every time. Second, I am very fond of Tomas Bodin as a keyboard player but also I love his attitude on life, love and the human condition. Third, I missed my fellow Hungarian Zoltán but now that he's back, we all can proudly reassert: Best current progressive rhythm section bar none and as masterful as the old and sacred Squire/Bruford tandem! The truth is I am not always completely enthralled by Roine Stolt's vocals and Hasse Froberg's even less. The guitar playing is marvelous though and the man certainly can pump out mountains worth of material, for the most part quite good. Having seen them live, I can tell you that you scratch your head wondering how they can remember all those endless twists and turns. They say the truth will set you free, so I will say it: The Flower Kings are probably the only progressive band whose "Greatest Hits" would be the disc of the century! Each one of their studio albums has a couple of tracks that just get under your skin. So what's up with the latest offering, you ask? Even though there is really little to fix when nothing is broken The Sum of No Evil is a notch above Paradox and Adam & Eve , mainly due to the fact that the reasons espoused above (Jonas, you are a joy to listen to!) and that the material is pared from some of the by now famous Flower King fat.

"One More Time" encapsulates the regal blossom fans have come to expect: 13 minutes of complexly twisted prog with exhilarating Fenderbass work, sequenced to perfection by Zoltan's manic drumming , Tomas positively zipping on Mini-Moog synthesizer, Roine tossing in a few meandering leads that shiver and shudder , hey , how can you dislike this ? I mean, it's progressive rock in its most classic form, dance/pop this cannot ever be and commercial, yeah. right! The most obvious criticism is that it's like the Beatles tune "It's All too Much", a supremely rich musical dessert that is too fattening. Two comments: get off your butts and you won't complain and if you do like I do, just listen to the four strings a rumbling and all will be clearer. "Love is the Only Answer" is not a 24 minute Todd Rungren/Utopia remake (without "Only", wink) but au contraire, a typical Swedish whopper juicily dripping from all sides that has, incredibly, some actually scintillating vocals (Is it love?) and bombastic fury alternating with more sedate inspiration courtesy of that underused marvel called Ulf Wallander on saxophone, such a great instrument. To paraphrase Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (a very ancient "proggy" musical):"Why can't the proggers learn the Sax?" and use it more often, for that matter! Stolt pitches in some interesting textures and revisiting his "sitar" sound that was always well received and dosed adroitly, especially in unison with the Moog. This should be a showstopper in a live setting (one's appreciation for the band expands exponentially when witnessed on stage). Wah-wah guitar scatting with some vocals, sibilant synths engaged in playful dialogue with a soprano sax? Have these meatballs gone jazzy on us? It must be that manic Hun's influence at work, thankfully taking this group back to the aerie heights of Progdom, once achieved with epic monuments like "The Truth Will Set You Free" and the seminal "Stardust We Are". The track ends on an intricate Stolt drive through the 6 electric strings on his axe. And it sacks with a sax! "Trading My Soul" is a TFK ballad, a touching lament with a big long bluesy solo that has plenty of atmosphere (a little wink to Camel in the last lyric: "I Can See your Houses from Here") and some sustained anguish notes from Roine. Very nice, guv'! "The Sum of No Reason" shows off a heavier riff-a-rama side, which is actually quite welcome, a little fire up their asses suits these guys immensely, interspaced with some fabulously delicate marimba work from Hasse Bruniusson. This is a tremendous piece of raging music, very impressive in that it exudes a slight Zappa influence that leaves a pleasant glow in the ear. "Flight 999 Brimstone Air" is already considered as a TFK instrumental of the finest vintage, resplendent in both tone and adventure, a sterling display of virtuoso craftsmanship that seeks out very odd experimental horizons chock full of Bodin atmospherics (last attempted on "Unfold the Future"), here conducted by the incredibly athletic and nimble sticks of the Mad Magyar. The superb disc terminates its run with "Life In Motion", where the mellotron takes the stage and underlines the obvious capacity for the Kings to consistently "outyes"

Yes, showing again that the students have surpassed their teachers. Nice artwork by the modern Roger Dean, the crafty Ed Unitsky whose art also adorns Guy Manning and the Tangent recordings. Four and ˝ Bodins

Report this review (#164978)
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars This album was instantly controversial for me. Because once in a while you come across those releases with flawless execution, very talented musicians and all the concepts you like or love in music, but still you're left with a slight, ominous, uncertain disliking for the album in question. You listen and listen, trying to identify what turns you off. It's a painful experience, especially since you like so much of it. But it has to be done.

The Flower Kings is the brainchild of Roine Stolt, gifted guitarist with tentacles reaching out in many directions on the modern prog scene and thus should be familiar for almost all of you. He's also a fellow Uppsalian (not a sect, just the Swedish city we're both living in, Uppsala). My first contact with the man was through the excellent SMPTe by Transatlantic, an acquaintance which also led me to bands like Spock's Beard, The Tangent and, ultimately, The Flower Kings.

So what are these Flower Kings like? Well, this release is a pleasing, relaxing effort. The bulk of the material is low-mid-tempo, bordering on sweet most of the time, with mostly positive lyrics and music. The atmospheres are often lush and warm, something that Thomas Bodin's characteristic and playful keyboard sound makes even stronger. Sounds like a description of a Yes album, and that comparison isn't at all totally uncalled for. This is complex music, and as with all things complex, it takes some time to get under its skin. Small tweaks and sound effects riddle the album and rewards the patient listener. Take your time with this album.

As for the musicians participating, I can't say a negative word. Roine Stolt delivers fabulous solos and his emotive, sometimes meandering (in the word's positive sense) playing is all over the songs. Jonas Reingold deserves another honourable mention for his outstanding bass playing. Twangy, fast and delicate takes turn.

What surprises with The Flower Kings is that, while standing with one foot in familiar prog territory, the other one is surprisingly stable in the contemporary melodic rock/metal scene. Parts with that origin is given more than a nod and a wink as they tend to occupy many parts of the songs on The Sum Of No Evil. Don't be surprised if the sweet atmosphere suddenly turns into heavy riffing and rougher singing. Or rather, be surprised, but sit back and enjoy these moments.

But why isn't this a 'masterpiece'? 1. The song lengths. While I don't mind long songs, the things one expect from a long song increases exponentially with its length. Somehow TFK don't really pull these things off, at least not on The Sum Of No Evil. There's a tendency for the longest songs to grow a little tedious, drawn out. Watered down, if you will. 2. The vocals. The low-mid-tempo, sweetness and the incredibly smooth vocals, even with occasional outbursts, paired with the long songs gets, just as in the previous statement, tedious.

Too much sugar.

But even with these negative points, there's nothing stopping the album from reaching at least 3,5 stars. And as it is something I'd recommend, I'll settle for a 4.


Report this review (#165631)
Posted Friday, April 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Musically, this is extremely impressive prog....the compositions are imaginative, filled with great melodies and riffs, and there are plenty of the dynamic shifts that we prog fans like...the musicianship is top-notch as well, especially the fantastic guitar solos. The Flower Kings are clearly influenced by Yes, but they are not a clone band like Starcastle. I can easily recommend this album to fans of Yes and Rush and Marillion....BUT they do have one major weakness, or two rather...the vocals and the lyrics...I hate to say it but the lyrics are pretty mediocre and banal, and the singing is not of the same caliber as the compositions and the playing.

I find myself absolutely loving the instrumental sections and almost cringing when the singing begins. This has been a problem for me with a fair number of prog bands. Apparently, it is extremely difficult to find a singer who can sing prog as well as he musicians can play it.

When I listen to this album, it makes me realize just how rare and great are singers like Peter Gabriel, Jon Anderson, Peter Hammill, Greg Lake, John Wetton, Fish and Ian Anderson. If the Flower Kings had a singer like those, this would easily be a 5-star album, and they would take their place among the greats...but without a great singer/lyricist I can't give this more than 4 solid stars.

I wish I were God and could give these music tracks to Jon Anderson and have him sing over them. I think we might end up with something as good as Going For The One.

Report this review (#178774)
Posted Monday, August 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Way to go Fish-Van!

It's time's like these that I regret giving other albums four stars when I was on the fence of wither it deserved three or four. Then an album like this comes along and you know instantly that it deserves no less then four stars. To date, this is 'The Flower Kings' best album. Everything comes together so well, and for once 'The Flower Kings' didn't over stretch their reach, which they've been known to do. They kept this album simple, and it pays off so well in the end. The listener doesn't feel overwhelmed after listening to this album, and it's just a very enjoyable listen from start to finish with absolutely no low points at all from the first song to the last.

After listening to this album a number of times, one thing seems to be apparent throughout the album, that being that it's weird. The first thing to show this is the album cover. Its half fish, half van..a Mervan if you will. But this album presents many very strange sounds to the forefront. The haunting fluctuating guitar and keyboard sounds found in old sci-fi films when aliens come down are scattered throughout the album. It adds to the overall effect of the sound.

The album starts off with a bang with the first song 'One More Time'. The explosion of sound found within the first few minuets grabs the listener's attention immediately and capturing the mood and tone of the album. From there on in, we get great 'Flower Kings' sounds that we've grown to love, with no low points at all.

The odd thing about this album (among a lot of other things) is the epical 25:50 minuet song 'Love is the Answer' (what was the question again?) is the weakest song on the album, when it's customary for 'The Flower Kings' strongest song on their previous albums usually fall on their longer songs on the album. It just seems as though this song is not as well grounded as the other songs, never really establishing a foundation. This is almost 26 minuets of great and beautiful music, but structurally speaking, this isn't really such a good song. Luckily, it flows unnoticeably into its next song 'Trading my Soul', which picks up the peaces. The end guitar on this song is superb, a real treat and it's this point that really makes the song so powerful.

'The Sum of No Reason' is a nice long song, although no where near the length of 'Love is the Answer'. After the grand ending of 'Trading my Soul' the song starts off in a soft mood, only to slam you back into that grand sound that started the album. Unlike 'Love is the Answer' this song has a defined structure to the song, coming back to 'I hope that what they say is true: that God can see through the souls of men.' True, 'Love is the Answer' has 'there's no such this as perfect..' but it's scattered through different moods and tones. Musically, this technique is a nice change, but as noted before, for a song, it's not so enjoyable to listen to on its own.

Back to 'The Sum of No Reason', it's a very enjoyable song, taking the listener through a series of different moods, tones, and places. Again, it holds onto the very 'strange' sounds which make this album very definitive among other 'Flower Kings' albums. It even uses a great stand alone guitar sound that 'Trading my Soul' used, making this song so enjoyable. After this song we get the weirdest song on the album, and posibly in 'Flower Kings' history: 'Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)' using countless sound effects and strange time signatures. I love how this song comes together near the end, as through all musicians for the first part of the song were just playing what they felt should be played and then coming together to put everything in it's right place.

The final song on the album 'Life in Motion' brings the weirdness home, starting with what sounds like 'the Garden Party' from Pink Floyd. But it brings us right back to that place which the previous songs set up. It uses the usual 'Flower Kings' sound and attitude, what makes this song so great, and one of my favorite 'Flower Kings' songs is the end, where you think the song stops, but that guitar picks right back up to play us out. If you thought the ending of 'Trading my Soul' and the mid section of 'The Sum of No Reason' had an impact, this has nothing on them. It's the build up that makes this one so monumental. It starts off slow and slowly grows and becomes irresistible, you find yourself wanting to hear it over and over again. It reminds me of 'Love Supreme' off of 'Adam and Eve', it has the same feel as 'Growing up filling up' when they say 'It's like coming home, coming home again.' Such an incredible song.

So in the end, this album is a very solid four star album. The closest 'The Flower Kings' have come to a complete masterpiece. I wouldn't rate this as a masterpiece simply because this is 78 minuets of great music and nothing more. There's really no point at which I find myself 'wowed' at the music, which only true masterpieces can do, but on the same page, I never find myself board. If you only get one 'Flower Kings' album, I'd suggest this one, it really is their best.

Four stars for the very strange Fish-Van.

Report this review (#181883)
Posted Saturday, September 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars For my money the best FLOWER KINGS' album to date and boy do you ever get a lot of music for your money, but this is not always a good thing. You see the FLOWER KINGS have a problem I seem to see a lot with modern prog bands: the need to make epics when epics are not called for. They, along with many others, get caught stretching a great song out so long that it can leave you saying I got the point of this song 10 minutes ago, why won't you let me hear more of your work yet. I love the prog epic, a great epic song grabs your attention and keeps you for the long haul, and this is a hard enough to do task when you your not releasing album after album filled with 10+ minute tracks. It seems to me that the only thing holding the FLOWER KINGS back from having album after album of prog classics is their inability to know when to stop a song. So many highly effective concepts allowed to wander off for 7 or more minutes longer than they should, its frustrating. All that being said this is the bands finest work to date and there aren't too many moments here where the songs feel stretched too thin, Love Is The Answer's 25 minutes is a bit excessive but it doesn't depreciate its value in any great way. As I have a tendency toward list making and ranking albums I find it hard to give an album that would fall outside my top 200 prog albums a full 4 stars. I hover between the rating definitions Excellent addition to any prog music collection and Good, but non-essential because I believe it to be both an excellent addition but not important enough to be considered essential. 3.44 out of 5.
Report this review (#186947)
Posted Sunday, October 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars Lets admit these guys have written some good stuff in the past but this to me is by far their best! One More Time is a nice way to start the album with a catchy chorus, but Love Is The Only Answer is the second best of the four epics with some amazing guitar parts by the Swedish guitar god Roine Stolt. Trading My Soul is a sad song, "It's not the end but I sense it is near," but it is an awesome vocal performance by Roine who isn't known for his vocals. The Sum of No Reason is the best track on the album to me. It starts off pretty slow but turns into some roaring synths and guitars after a while giving it almost the Thick as a Brick kind of feel as it changes tempo. Flight 666 is a nice instrumental break and although my least favorite, Life In Motion is a very good song. Roine's voice takes a while to get comfortable with because it's so odd but eventually it sticks to you. Another masterpiece guys!
Report this review (#212114)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars "Inaccessible magnificence" is the best paradoxical description I can give to this album by The Flower Kings. I have a lot of critical things I can say about it, but in all honesty, it's no different from most of the output by this excellent band: Equal measure hits and misses, but when those hits are as stellar as they are here, that inconsistency is perfectly fine by me.

"One More Time" One of my favorite songs from The Flower Kings, it's consistent, full of textures, and somehow uplifting without at all resorting to sappiness. Jonas Reingold's fretless bass slips in between notes, and Roine Stolt's guitar parts are exquisitely crafted, and showcase his talent without being ostentatious in the least. The refrain is just a great home base for this piece as it skips and prances through so many different musical themes. My only criticism used to be that this song could have ended two minutes before it actually does, and it would have been much stronger for it, but now I appreciate it just as it is.

"Love is the Answer" The lengthiest track of the album begins with Stolt's shaky voice (which I usually enjoy more than Hasse Froberg's boisterous singing, but here its just too vulnerable sounding). This is the song that mentions the "cosmic Christmas tree," a lyrical faux pas that is nearly unforgivable. It's hard to appreciate this song because of its length, because it's just all over the galaxy. This is not to say it lacks any stellar musical moments. Reingold is his usually phenomenal self, laying down some funk throughout much of the music. Tomas Bodin cemented his place as one of my favorite keyboardists with his solo just over ten minutes in, as well as his work in other places. The two of them together right after the fifteen minute mark make for some intriguing music that just has to be heard. Stolt even gets in some good guitar bits, but overall, this is one of those pieces that is typical of the lack of restraint and sense of extravagance the music of The Flower Kings suffers from.

"Trading My Soul" This darker (and thankfully much shorter) song begins with Stolt's quavering vocals again. Froberg sounds better on the more enjoyable chorus. The guitar work at the end almost makes up for such an unmemorable track.

"The Sum of No Reason" Stolt begins this one vocally as well, but he sounds warm and more sure of himself. The music is fairly soft until about five minutes, where it becomes the heaviest, full of distorted guitar and strange synthesizer sounds. Overall, the song is dull, but not awful. The growling voices at the end are simply laughable. In fact, everything after the ten minute mark is pointless, and even Bodin's very good synthesizer work or Stolt's extended guitar soloing can not salvage the end of it.

"Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)" When the cock crows once, this band begins playing awesome music again. Bodin's organ largely works alongside Stolt's guitars. Some mind-bending panning effects occur than can probably only be noticeable with headphones. Sound effects abound, like children screaming on a rollercoaster or cutesy toy sounds, which only add to the devilish nature of the music. But regardless of the music, this is finally Zoltan Csórsz time: He who had sat back and let the other musicians run things, just lets it rip in a killer volley of drum attacks.

"Life in Motion" My second favorite track is almost as good as the first. The chords during the verses are simple, but excellently worked out in layers in sounds. Bodin once again proves his usefulness in various places. The lyrics are powerful to me, making me think of my "transitional" state as both a father and son. Like the first track, it breathes consistency and great musicianship. It's one of the band's best, particularly considering that lovely ending.

Report this review (#213181)
Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Right, I have collected all the FK CD's - now after listening to this enough times to give it FIVE Stars - Yep this CD is a 4.8 rounded up to the FIVE. Why? Well there is the epic "Love is the only answer" - An awesome composition and with a monster guitar solo of such quality it's worth 4 stars on it's own. The opening track is also a melodic masterpiece with some quite breathtaking keyboards and tracks four and six are also 4.5 star standard and if you like Yes then the yes-like compositions will have you drooling for more. The CD has virtuosity on all the tracks again giving a star booster, the only minor down side to this CD is the two (shorter) weaker tracks and the god-bothering lyrics (which don't appeal to an atheist Dawkins fan like myself). For those reviewers who seem to dislike this because the tracks are too long!! or it's too progressive/technical (or retro ??) - Just get back to reviewing the pop music you obviously prefer and leave the FK's well alone because they are truly the top exponent of Contemporary Symphonic prog rock.
Report this review (#227865)
Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Flower Kings are one of the first modern progressive rock bands I ever heard, and they remain one of my favorites today. To me, this album sums up everything I love about The Flower Kings. Typically, The Flower Kings release double albums, and I find there to be several weaker songs on these albums that drag the album as a whole down, even though certain songs on each of those albums are masterpieces. Sum of No Evil, on the other hand, is extremely consistent and doesn't contain any weaker songs. It is a strong album from start to finish, which is the reason why it is held with such high regard in my collection and why I consider it my favorite Flower Kings album.

The album starts with one of my favorite Flower Kings songs of all time, the uplifting "One More Time". The song begins with a soft piano melody from Tomas Bodin before the band all kicks in and the song is on its way.This song makes me think of Yes at their best. The band sounds like they are having tons of fun as they are playing this music, and all of the great elements the Flower Kings have become known for are there. I love the drumming of Zoltan Csórsz and I'm so glad he is back on this album. It gives the album a vibrancy and fun that is missing on albums he is not present on. Roine Stolt is amazing as always playing some very tasteful guitar. This song has tons of great playing by Tomas Bodin and of course great fretless bass from bassmaster Jonas Reingold. I don't want to forget the great singing of Hasse Froberg who makes the catchy refrain work so well. There are many great harmonies throughout this track that once again bring Yes to mind. Everytime I hear this song, I indeed want to "play that song one more time" because it is so brilliant and showcases everything that I love about this band (ok, that was pretty cheesy even for me).

"Love Is The Only Answer" begins with the great singing of Roine Stolt. I really enjoy his voice and feel it is very important to The Flower Kings sound. This is the epic of the album, and it is incredible from start to finish. It starts rather slowly and the main chorus is introduced, which is another very catchy one. This immediately leads to a heavy section where Hasse Froberg is singing in his strong rock voice over some heavy guitar riffs and organ. It is an awesome contrast to the uplifting beginning. Hasse's voice is incredible here, definitely a great compliment to Roine's voice. There is some awesome saxophone as well that plays in the next section of the song that is quite jazzy with some great jazz guitar soloing from Roine Stolt. From there, the song moves seamlessly through many great sections, some that are high powered jams and some that are melodic and beautiful. All the band members get their chances to shine throughout this 25 minute piece, and the result, for me, is truly breathtaking. I do want to mention that Roine Stolt performs one of his most brilliant solos at the end of this song that always leaves me in awe of his skills as a guitarist.

"Trading My Soul" is the chance for the listener to take a breather in between the massive high energy epics of the album. It is a moving ballad with an inspired chorus sung by Hasse Froberg. This is one of my favorites among the Flower Kings ballads. "The Sum of No Reason" starts out softly with some atmospheric keyboards before Roine Stolt's voice comes in. This leads into a powerhouse of a track that is actually one of the heavier, more chaotic ones of the album. I love the craziness of this track, where all members are playing at the top of their games. The drumming by Zoltan just blows me away in this track. "Flight 999" is an instrumental track and happens to be the shortest on the album. This song is just a complete blast to listen to with quirky sound effects and some great playing by Tomas Bodin. The most notable thing about this song is some intense, insane drumming from Zoltan- this guy is truely a killer drummer!

"Life In Motion" is the grand finale, and sounds like two different songs merged into one track. In the first half, it is a relatively simple song (for Flower Kings standards) with an uplifting and catchy chorus. The middle section has a more atmospheric section that reminds me of Yes before Roine Stolt comes in with a great guitar solo. I can't believe how many incredible guitar solos by Stolt are found throughout this whole album (and his whole career for that matter). Truly an incredible talent. The ending section of this song is one of my favorite moments of the whole album. "Its like coming home, coming again" makes me tear up each time I hear it. This is how I feel about the album as a whole, it feels like home to me and each time I come back to it, I feel I'm coming home again. This section is so majestic and beautiful, I just have no words to adaquately describe it. It is a truly magnificent closing to an amazing masterpiece of an album.

I love this album with all my heart and I never tire of it. When it came out it stayed in my CD player exclusively for months and it was a struggle when I finally decided it was time to play something new. It is just brilliant from the opening piano to the closing majesty of "Life In Motion". I am so grateful for such a talented and creative band and this album is the peak of that talent and creativity. I can't want to see what they come up with next. This is one of my top ten favorite albums and definitely a masterpiece in my opinion.

Report this review (#228048)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Not having heard a newer TFK album since Space Revolver (dating from 02), I decided it was high time to revisit the group's now extensive oeuvre,, or at least a tiny parcel of it. Avoiding the controversial Adam & Eve album, I opted for their latest Sum Of No Evil, which dates from late 07, which means that we're bound to be presented at least a double disc of "fresh" studio material of theirs anytime soon.

Anyway, pasty the Nemo/hippy artwork, SONE is a typical TFK album that's kept their line- up intact (or almost) and their sound palettes (vintage AND modern) alike, always fiddling with a tightrope between retro-prog and neo-prog. And of course we get the same type of (uselessly?) complex tunes, impeccable musicianship with excellent virtuosity, a positive- minded Yes-like music attitude (if you're a fan of Univers Zero, better go elsewhere), that dabbles between the symphonic to the slightly jazzy realm., and tons of hours spent out of labour of love for this album. We'll find the odd excellent chord progression (although you'll also find some very clumsy liaisons as well), but usually the effect is ruined because we're going from a Yes plan to a ELP line, even sometimes pulling some soundscapes from Anglagard's two albums. Elsewhere, the shameless Yes plundering gets almost sickening in the endlessly repeated chorus line of the album-closing Life In Motion: "It's like coming coming home again" over a lapsteel guitar ala Howe. And it's pretty hard to tell which song you're except for the Thomas Bodin-penned Flight 999, the only track that is sonically different, but even then it sort of sticks out like a sore thumb.

But at the same time, we also get the usual never-ending borrowed soundscapes from Yes, Genesis, (I mean, there IS worse influences for your music) we get the needlessly overlong songs and general useless meandering to prolong an over-exploited theme (sometimes going as far as flogging a dead horse). What's even worse is that these flaws/qualities (depending on how you look at it) are done ON PURPOSE, to show us what "prog" is, to show us they can do it, better than anyone else. Don't get me wrong, TFK does what it does well, if not extremely well, but I doubt of the sincerity of their artistics and aesthetics. The group goes out of its way to write in such a "prog" manner, because they know they can dish it out to more or less discerning fans who've been buying the same Flower Kings album over and over, but this time with mayonnaise instead of ketchup poured all over it. It (SONE) is completely redundant and I can only come back to tell you that you own one TFK album, you own them all. Dare I even say that if you don't own any TFK, you're quite a bit better off in terms of shelfspace, let alone in life quality.

Report this review (#230302)
Posted Friday, August 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I guess i'm in the minority her but of their 10 studio albums this wouldn't make the top 5 for me. That's not such a bad thing considering all the great music they've made over the years I suppose. According to the band the music on this album was a going back to their roots, it would be more Symphonic with less Rock and Jazz sections.That may be the reason I can't get into this like I can "Adam & Eve" or "Unfold The Future", it just seems like it's lacking something that my favourite top five from them have.

"One More Time" opens with piano that is promptly blown away by a full sound. It settles quickly as vocals arrive. We get a variety of keyboards on this track from Bodin including mellotron. Of course that growly bass from Reingold is always a treat. The tempo and mood shifts throughout this 13 minute opening track.This one drags a lot for me. "Love Is The Only Answer" is the 24 1/2 minute epic. Reserved vocals and a pastoral into before it kicks in around 2 1/2 minutes. Some intricate guitar before 6 minutes as it calms down. It picks up with piano and guitar leading the way. Check out the drumming 10 minutes in with synths and chunky bass in tow. I like the guitar after 21 1/2 minutes with the organ runs. Sax ends it.

"Trading My Soul" kicks in after a minute as contrasts continue. Some mellotron and a tasteful guitar solo after 4 1/2 minutes. "The Sum Of No Reason" is my favourite. It's laid back to start until after 1 1/2 minutes.This is the heaviest section so far and it's contrasted with the lighter sections throughout this song. "Flight 999 Brimstone Air" is kind of cool after the rooster crows as we get a very GENESIS-like section, then it changes to an uptempo passage. A calm 2 minutes in then it builds, I like the drumming. "Life In Motion" has a nice heavy rhythm before 2 minutes. It's much lighter before 6 minutes then we get a dead calm 8 minutes in. Some bluesy guitar follows.

So another good album but one that seems to drag a lot for me.

Report this review (#232350)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's no secret that I am a huge fan of The Flower Kings. They are some of the most talented musicians around, and are one of my favorite modern progressive rock acts. And on no other album (except for maybe a few others) will you understand their greatness so easily. This is the ultimate modern prog rock album. There is incredible songwriting, production, musicianship, arrangements, and singing. So what else could this possibly be if not a 5 star masterpiece? The skills of the band are undeniable here, and few prog bands can pull off an album as good as this.

So what makes this album better than many other Flower Kings albums?

The simple answer that there is absolutely NO filler. There isn't a weak track, or even a weak moment. One of the problems I have with many albums by The Flower Kings is that there usually are songs worth skipping. They will make a double album, with material that could have easily fit on one awesome disc. Or they will make an 80-minute single disc with filler, when they could have made an album with 50-minutes of genius. That is far from the case here. This is a 78-minute long album, but every minute deserves to be here without a doubt. This whole album just screams masterpiece from beginning to end, so I can't give it anything less than a 5 star rating.

The Music:

"One More Time"- This is a classic Flower Kings song, and is a great way to start off the album. It starts out with a cool opening and it has a beautiful chorus used throughout the song. It has some great instrumental parts, particularly highlighting the synthesizer.

"Love Is The Only Answer"- The Flower Kings are known for their excellent 20+ minute epics, and this ranks up there as one of the best. The lyrics aren't great, but the music is so good it makes up for every aspect of it. It has a perfect blend of emotions and has a classic sound trademarked by The Flower Kings.

"Trading My Soul"- After two longer epics, this is a shorter song to serve as a breaking point between another epic. This is an excellent song anyway, though fairly simple. It creates great chord changes between the dark and moody verses and emotional choruses. This is a very good song with some great hooks.

"The Sum of No Reason"- This is another epic song on this album, and this is probably the darkest one, though it does have some lighter moments. This is a good song with the occasional metal leaning. This song is often overshadowed by some of the other songs here, but this is still a very good song.

"Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)"- This is the only instrumental song here, and it is somewhat in between a jam session and an actual song. It has a cool drum solo that progresses very well.

"Life In Motion"- This is one of the best songs on the album, and is definitely a highlight track. The last minutes on this song get me every time, and there isn't a bad second on this song. The Flower Kings couldn't have possibly ended the album better than this.

The simple conclusion is that this is essential, and should be in any progressive rock fan's collection. This is a masterpiece of modern prog, and represents The Flower Kings excellently. This is a great starting point to listen to The Flower Kings, and it won't disappoint any long time fan. It's a shame these guys are so underrated. Their music is really excellent.

5 stars.

Report this review (#235029)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I find this album, The Sum Of No Evil to be the most overtly Yes-influenced of all of their albums to date. You are thinking "No sh*t, Evolver, they even named a song Live Is The Only Answer, but they forgot to mention that hate is the root of cancer." And you are right. While the music evokes Yes at many stages, including Close To The Edge, and Relayer, the vocals, especially the harmony arrangements, seem to harken back to the first two Yes albums. Which does not make it a bad listen. On the contrary, this is a great album, full of masterfully written and played epics.

While, Love Is The Only Answer is the longest song here, it is hardly the best. It's a bit too diverse and lacking in focus for my tastes, and despite my usual desire for longer pieces, I find myself tiring of this one at about the fifteen minute mark. The best song here is the title track. Heavy and dark, with the usual Flower Kings moments of lightness, this is one of the band's best.

And while the bonus disk is nice to have for completionists, the songs are not up to par with the main disk, but not bad.

Report this review (#250208)
Posted Thursday, November 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a diehard fan of The Flower Kings, I don't mind saying that this is by far their most disappointing release to date. Following up a masterpiece like "Paradox Hotel" with this was a big letdown.

I see that a lot of fans are pretty keen on it, and I can understand why, as it is prog to the max, but, to me, that is the biggest problem with is too much prog and not enough everything else. If you look at many of TFK's other records, they are pretty diverse and experimental, but "The Sum of No Evil" comes across to me like they wanted to write a record of nothing but prog tunes. In theory, that would have worked just great, but the songs themselves seem to just meander along aimlessly at times, and the melodies, which are usually something they excel at, are not very strong or memorable.

Overall, it is a good CD, worthy of the 3 stars I am giving it, but this band is capable of so much more. Hopefully, when they go back to making new music, they will have a nice little comeback from this slight hiccup.

Report this review (#266934)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Who would have thought that after 10 albums, these guys would have saved their most perfect material after over 10 years.

This albums is just flawless, every song is amazing, so much melody, harmony, ecclectic...basically everything Iove about prog.

This was my first ever encounter with Flower Kings, and I'm glad it was this album that started my obsession.

Again, another secret concept may be present, with the repition of themes.

It's only 6 songs as well, easily digestable.

On the special edition, their are 3 bonus songs, which are just as good as the material on the album itself.

1. One More Time - At around X-Mass 2008, I played this song non stop, on my phone, with the cd itself, playing it on my computer, just anywhere I could play it. This song is what started my love of the band. I can recite this song word for word, time change for time change. It's just such a beautiful piece of music. 10/10

2. Love Is The Only Answer - With an amazing chorus, repition of themes and some amazing instrumental sections, this song proves that these guys are the saviours of modern prog. 10/10

3. Trading My Soul - Quite weird, but amazing nontheless. Amazing chorus and some amazing vocals. 9/10

4. The Sum Of No Reason - Quite dark. This song does have some quite King Crimsonish eccentric moments, and repeated themes, but this song is a landmark in the album. Amazing. 10/10

5. Flight 999 Brimstone Air - An amazing keyboard driven instrumental. 9/10

6. Life In Motion - This song has such an amazing build up, and is some has some of their most beautiful moments. This song always puts a smile on my face. 10/10

CONCLUSION: Their best in my opinion. Buy it now, and revel in it's wonder.

Report this review (#289407)
Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Flower Kings have released their best yet. With "Unfold the Future" and "Paradox Hotel" they changed their direction to a little less 70's Yes type prog that they are usually associated with. With "The Sum of no Evil" however, they basically just went back to how they were in the beggining except for one major change. They finally decided to take their best feature and go all out with it. 4 out of 6 songs are over 12 minutes, one being almost at 25, the other two 5 and 7 minutes.

It starts off with "One More Time" (13:04)- A great opener; fast paced with a catchy chorus and great instrumental parts in the middle and at the end. 9/10

Next, "Love is the Only Answer" (24:28)- My personal favorite, this one features Ulf Wallander on soprano sax. There is so much variety in this, yet it all holds together as one song perfectly. An awesome jazzy instrumental part with guitar solo in here. 10/10

"Trading My Soul" (6:25)- serves as a sort of a transition between the two main highlights of the disc. A smooth, slow, and kind of sad song with a heady chorus that never gets old. 8/10

"The Sum of no Reason" (13:25)- This is something I'd never really heard from TFK before. Pretty dark lyrics and music-wise. The guitar solo at the end is complimented by such a killer groove! 10/10

"Flight 999 Brimstone Air" (5:00)- Really Abstract and crazy-go-nuts compared to the rest of the songs, but TFK has done this type of thing before. Lots of great drumwork and an Awesome guitar breakdown at the end. 9/10

"Life in Motion" (13:30)- This song sounds a lot like your typical Yes song, and some people act like that's a bad thing. Why on earth would that be bad??? I can never listen to this song without being uplifted and happy. The ending is really inspirational. A wonderful overall closer.

I'm not one to throw around Five Stars like it's nothing, so you can expect I give this album five stars for a reason.

Report this review (#291705)
Posted Friday, July 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Oh, my first TFK album (and also one of the first ones that got me more than 2 years ago into Prog, it's getting more and more distant as months go by), since my TFK rush when I listened almost everything by them and loved instantly most of it, I didn't listen them so much (only occasionally here and there). So let's give them fair deal now.

The main thing that differ "The Sum of No Evil" is its big percentage of epics. Theoretically, about 80%, practically, 100%. Because even there are two short songs, even these are epical. I heard somewhere that TFK are dubbed "Epic band" and it's probably true. So, this is a good thing, as complain I've heard most on their music is that there are great adventurous, pompous tracks combined with weak fillers. There are no such fillers, so just big pieces (well and two short pieces with a heart of gold ... or was it hooker with a heart of gold?). Musically, it's typical TFK. Melodic, sometimes going across the borders to Heavy (Hard Rock in appearance, but Prog in sound).

5(+), because this is what I feel as good, new (even vintage a little, and really just a little, bit) Prog. Sadly, it's their last release as of 2010 and I (and most of fans) are frantically waiting for new release).

Report this review (#300567)
Posted Sunday, September 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The next phase in my Amazing journey of discovery into the world of prog, this was my first Flower King's Album. I'v only had it for a few days, and have only listened to it 3 or 4 times, but i have to say, i am deeply impressed with this album, and will be going out as soon as I can to find myself some more of this bands albums.

Theres an amazing Feel that permeates the whole album, relaxing but also stimulating at the same time-i find it compelling listening, while also being able to enjoy it just by sitting back. My only real issue with this album is that possibly it lacks a little intensity, apart from on my personal highlight track "the sum of no reason"

My top tracks would be "Flight 999 of brimstone air" and " The Sum of no reason"

Report this review (#302699)
Posted Thursday, October 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars With the return of Zoltan, TFK went for another very good work here, as we continue to be in safe area listening to this one, when comparing to the previous CD's. And... that might prevent a lot of fans here to go for 5/5, since we know their style... There are certain amounts of originality, mostly when they develop the mid-sections of the epics (count 4 of 6 songs !), when Fröberg goes with energy, when Bodin still brings some new nice impros and unusal sounds/fast notes. If it was my very first discovery of The Flower Kings, I might have qualifyed that for 'more than excellent' (which is 5), but there is not as much feeling than Stardust or Flower-Power. It is still very interesting, as the songs are made with top-notch production, as you feel the super 'ensemble' of the musicians, and where symphonic prog is again super-well represented. The four long songs are well constructed, with a lot of instrumental from the 'athlete-musicians', with changes of moods that are original, with harmony and melodic passages, and a nice addition of differences with what they did before.

From a general feeling, I would state that as about 4.2. So, a nice job again in the world of sympho-prog, by this top-group of the 2000's. They are 'you-can't-miss them' !

And this is it for TFK, as I went around their 'standard' CD's (2x 5/5, 1x 3/5, and 7x 4/5). Hard to beat ! Hoping to see arriving something new soon (before end of 2011 ?), as the side-projects seem to be over for these guys : Transatlantic tour is finished, as the projects of Agents of Mercy, Karmakanic, the solo jobs of Bodin and Fröberg are done also... Ouf ! There is good hope. And I can't wait.

Report this review (#382693)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars The Flower Kings sound that was present on their best albums such as Space Revolver and Unfold The Future (mostly jazz-fusion inspired symphonic progressive rock) is gone, this time reverting back to the overly optimistic cheese prog. One good thing about this album is that it isn't as long as some of their albums, which occasionally stretch well over 100 minutes in length, but is still way too long for what the package consists of. The vocals here are definitely in a worse fashion than before, and I really am unsure why, but the bassist shines exceptionally bright among all of the bad and is my only true enjoyment through the length of this album.

Fans of optimistic symphonic prog and bass aficionados would find this album decently captivating, but I unfortunately find no joy in happiness.

Report this review (#431195)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Scratches that Prog Itch but No Surprises

Over the last decade and a half, The Flower Kings have been banner-wavers of retro-prog, wearing their love of Genesis and Yes like a gaudy medal. Given their high esteem on this site, I decided to give their music a try and picked their most recent studio effort SUM OF NO EVIL. This album is clearly symphonic prog with occasional heavy guitars and slick production being the only qualities that really distinguish it from classic 70's sounds. In addition, the band is overtly Christian, and many of the lyrics assume a Christian perspective. While I'm not one to automatically be put off by religious themes, some of the lyrics on this album are pretty smarmy. Most are tolerable, but some are laughably lame. On my first few listens to this album (which was actually over a year ago) the lyrics put me off quite a bit. But I recently gave the album another try, and the instrumental musicianship was able to shine through enough for me to begin to really enjoy the album.

Bandleader Roine Stolt sings and plays guitar. His voice is pleasant and competent, but not especially striking. I actually prefer it to Neal Morse. His guitar playing is expressive and varied, never showy. His sound is a modern variation on the Hackett / Gilmour / Latimer tradition, avoiding any trappings of metal / shred. While all of the players are quite talented, I find keyboard player Tomas Bodin's work to be the most impressive. He delivers all the classic sounds with energy and dexterity, and the parts that make my ears perk up and pay heed are almost always his. Other posters have already pointed out the tasty bass playing, and the drumming is similarly well done.

Four of the six songs span beyond ten minutes, with one sniffing at half an hour. I'm not sure why this has become a modern prog signature, but I find this excessive length rarely necessary. I don't often feel like the songs are coherent wholes. The separate instrumental sections easily could have been redistributed among multiple tracks. The longest "Love is the Only Answer" contains some completely inane vocal parts but also some of the darkest and most evocative instrumental sections of the album. And I'm not sure that they have any real relationship to each other.

When I first purchased this album, I thought that I'd never buy another from TFK. It took awhile to sink in and appreciate it. I'm currently combing through samples trying to decide one more to add to my collection. This one is settling in at a comfortable 3/5 stars. Good prog, a few flaws, nothing new, but tasty.

Report this review (#472181)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars With The sum of no evil from 2007 The Flowers Kings bring nothing new under the sun, but also doesn't dissepoints very much. Musicaly is well put on the portative and every note is where they belong but as I said this is no diffrent in musical arrangements then any other previous TFK albums. They had that vintage sound that I like on symphonic prog bands with top notch skillful musicianship but the music offered is happy, jolly symphonic prog, pleasent most of the time but aimless IMO, really. Long pieces with pompous instrumental passages but that's it, no impressive or original arrangements, only ok. Not better then previous albums not weaker either, to me all TFK albums has same level.
Report this review (#904918)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars After a few subpar releases, the flower kings are back in form with the sum of no evil. This album is very close in style and sound to their early releases Back in the World of Adventures and Retropolis, but there is a hint of their more recent albums as well. Musically this is everything you'd expect from the Flower Kings. The songs are full of beautiful melodies, instrumental complexities, and interesting structures.

The album starts off with the wonderful 'One More Time.' This is probably one of the King's most cheery and positive songs. The melodies are beautiful and catchy, as are Hasse's vocals.

'Love is the Only Answer' is yet another classic Flower Kings epic, and is probably my second favorite behind the great 'Stardust We Are.' Like the previous song, this one keeps hitting you with great melodies one after another, yet they repeat these parts throughout to give it a sense of unity. This is happy prog at its best!

'Trading My Soul' is a shorter song with a rather dark atmosphere compared to the rest of the album, almost similar to something off their previous release Paradox Hotel.

'Flight 999 Brimstone Air' can almost be seen as a sequel to Circus Brimstone from Stardust We Are where the band explored an esoteric circus-like theme. This is definitely the oddest song off the album, but it is great fun to listen to.

'The Sum of No Reason' and 'Life In Motion' are both great tracks, but not nearly as good as the first two. They both have some amazing TFK melodies, but suffer a bit from some less- than-amazing parts. The former has some rather metal guitar parts for the band which gives off a rather dark mood. The latter has some nice melodic moments from Hasse whose vocals have definitely grown on me.

Overall, this is a classic TFK release. Perhaps my only problem (one that is shared with most of their albums) is that it is slightly inconsistent in parts, and is simply too long. Had they trimmed it down to fifty of sixty minutes it would have been a much stronger effort. But regardless, this is some of the best modern symphonic prog you will find.


Report this review (#911584)
Posted Friday, February 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars I rarely comment on established acts especially if my take is in line with everybody else's. But an exception for Sum of No Evil since its my favorite FK (NOT a good abbreviation) album. It's FK condensed. I know its strange to say this about a 78-minute album, but you have to remember they release albums almost every year and often double ones. This album represents all sides of Flower Kings. A unbelievably sweet-sounding nostalgic epic. A 25-minute number that is my favourite and probably the most diverse of their epics. It's more energetic than Stardust We Are and more dynamic than The Truth Will Set You Free - arguably two of their best known epics. A more metallic number with avant-garde leanings. A pensive ballad. A weird jazzy instrumental. And finally, a paean to classic prog rock of Yes and Genesis variety (to me, the weakest track here). You can fault Flower Kings for being derivative, but not for lacking diversity.
Report this review (#1103006)
Posted Monday, December 30, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Personally, I am surprised this album has not scored higher. Different strokes - I am less a fan of Roine's chunkier power-prog, and usually very moved and fascinated by the more quintessential FK melodicism, chromaticism, and harmonic richness. As far as I am concerned, this is the most melodically satisfying and poetic FK release since Stardust, head and shoulders above Rainmaker and most of Paradox (the latter being a satisfying but less inspired offering, to me). 'One More Time' is romantic, melodically complex, and shows a more out-front and inventive Bodin than usual. I have never tired of this album, and if you like these particular Flower Kings virtues, this album may also be near the top of their output for you as for me. Makes for a powerful trio taken as a series with Banks of Eden and Desolation Rose - the latter is powerful but, as Roine himself says, more challenging, less immediately appealing. Simply means to me that all these years later, the band has demonstrated an ability to hit multiple creative mother lodes (mothers-lode?).
Report this review (#1130982)
Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over their 20 year existence, Swedish progressive rockers "The Flower Kings" have drawn many comparisons to the band Yes. That comparison is not unwarranted and this album will do little to dispel that notion. One thing worth noting is that this band compares VERY favorably to Yes. But before you dismiss this band as another Yes clone and move on, please allow me to make a case for "The Sum of No Evil" by The Flower Kings as more than the sum of its influences.

Admittedly, if this band is trying to shake of comparisons to Yes they have a funny way of doing it. The opening track "One More Time" has a symphonic yet pastoral vibe that Yes so often excelled at. The vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, and even the guitar and bass work are worthy of Steve Howe and Chris Squire respectively. This song sounds like it would have fit nicely on Yes' "Going for the One". However, what really stands out for me on this song are the keyboard playing and percussion. With all due respect to Rick Wakeman and Alan White, "The Sum of No Evil" surpasses "Going for the One" in this respect.

The next song, the 25 minute long "Love is the Only Answer" is one of those epic long songs at which The Flower Kings seem to excel. This song opens with a relatively catchy and simple melody that gives way to wailing hard rock and a jazz fusion passage that would make Chick Corea proud. Like many of The Flower Kings longer songs, this song is chock full of ideas and incorporates such a myriad of styles that only consummate musicians could pull it off. Credit a lot of this to leader Roine Stolt whose guitar playing soars above the music and seems to tell a story on its own, much in the manner that the saxophone of John Coltrane did at his creative peak. In the upbeat passages of this song keyboardist Tomas Bodin and drummer Zoltan Csörsz also make their presence felt in a major way. In fact the return of Csörsz to the band really gives this album a boost.

"Love is the Only Answer" is the cornerstone of this album and, along with The Flower King's "Numbers" and "I am the Sun, part 1", is among my all-time favorite songs. This song is so lush and rich that every time I listen to it I notice something different. It is a true masterpiece of symphonic prog and compares favorably to Yes' "Close to the Edge" & "The Gates of Delerium" and ELP's "Tarkus", all songs that push the limits of how long a rock song can be and just how virtuosic a band can be. "Love is the Only Answer" is a hard act to follow.

What is the only answer? How does one follow that song? The Flower Kings answer by taking the foot off the gas a little bit and stretching out on the introspective and dark "Trading My Soul". The song is slow paced but by no means boring. While the previous song was packed to overflowing, The Flower Kings leave plenty of space here, giving a chance for the melody and the lyrics to grip the listener. And of course there is alway time for a stylish guitar solo that is both languid and blistering, much like those conjured by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour when he is at his very best.

After slowing down on the previous song, The Flower Kings rev things up a bit. The result is "The Sum of no Reason", a song that is by turns hard rocking and spacey. This song contains lyrics that are a bit more cosmic in nature and is certainly reminiscent of some of The Flower Kings' early work, beginning with 1995's astonishing debut "Back in the World of Adventures" and culminating in the masterful "Space Revolver" in the year 2000. Nearly everything on "The Sum of No Evil" can hold it's own against these brilliant albums, and this song is no exception.

"Flight 999 (Brimstone Air)" is more of an opportunity for the drummer to show off than anything else. The whole band gets in on the fun, but this short instrumental song really belongs to Zoltan Csörsz (who is definitely a top tier drummer). This song, however, is really more filler than anything else, and this is my major criticism of The Flower Kings. They sometimes have a tendency to pad out their albums with filler, although they finally seem to have broken that habit with the two albums that follow this one, 2012's "Banks of Eden" and last year's "Desolation Rose". This isn't a bad song, but aside from the drum solos, it is kind of pointless.

This brings me to the album's closer. "Life in Motion" is again somewhat reminiscent of Yes, but it has a very catchy pop hook underlying the symphonic prog trappings. It is a song that I frequently find myself humming or singing. Even when it isn't playing on my iPod, it is often playing in my head. Did I say "catchy"? You better call the CDC, because I should have said "infectious". It is the most melodic thing on "The Sum of No Evil" after "One More Time" and is my favorite song from this album after "Love is the Only Answer".

Overall, despite a justifiable criticism of being heavily influenced by Yes and that other prog giant, Genesis, this album is a massive slice of symphonic prog heaven. It is certainly one of The Flower Kings most accomplished yet underrated albums. It can stand toe to toe with any of The Flower Kings' best albums or anything by any of their American and British peers for that matter. I don't just listen to this album. I put it on an endless loop and absorb it. I live it. I breathe it. I sing along with it. The Flower Kings are close to the edge of supplanting Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and Gentle Giant at the top of my favorite bands list, and this album is a big reason. Astonishingly, The Flower Kings would go on a five year hiatus from the studio after this wonderful album but returned in 2012 with the acclaimed album "Banks of Eden". So, one star out of five for ruining my life. Just kidding. Five stars, of course!

Footnote: I recently found this on iTunes for $5.99. For 75 minutes of music that is this virtuosic, inspired, melodic and brilliant, that is a bargain indeed.

Report this review (#1131478)
Posted Friday, February 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars "The Sum of No Evil" from 2007 is a typical The Flower Kings album. It is long lasting, few and lenghty songs and a funny interesting cover picture. The cover shows a nice band name sign and a Volkswagen bus fish over a religious building, a budistic temple I think. The record was released seven years ago and after this tenth record the band has done two more.

Here, Roine Stolt plays guitar and sings, Tomas Bodin plays keyboards, Jonas Reingold plays bass, Zoltan Csórsz drums and Hasse Fröbergs sings and plays guitar.

Well, the music of Flower Kings is of a special type, definitely not every person likes it. For me it uses to change from time to time. I love some records and songs and hate others. This was almost of the second clasification. It starts quite well with perhaps the records' best "One more time" but then comes "Love is the only answer" with a rather boring text and also the melody is boring in my ears. In that case stretch it so much as now is not a good idea. The other songs are not especially much better they either.

On "The sum of no evil" you, as a listener, will find many ingredients of what The Flower Kings are famous and popular for such as great guitar work and powerful symphonic pieces with long playtime. They are very clever and dompetent but this time it didn't work at all for me. I have listened some times but I can't enjoy what I hear. I know that I should try to be more objektive and judge each record for it's qualities. Now though I had hard to let my personal feelings behind and those feelings don't get frightened or feel any shame for saying that this record unfortunaly mach other of the band or many other prog record. "One more time" is the best song but avoid the others. If you love this band there is a chance you'll like this also but I think two stars is fair right now- perhaps the record wil grow.

Report this review (#1219919)
Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of two TFK masterpieces!

While 'Unfold the Future' is often lauded as one of TFK's best albums, Sum of No Evil is often overlooked. But I think it qualifies as the second TFK masterpiece, and thus deserves much more attention. Many reviewers here on PA have rated this down, but I think this is a problematic result of the way ratings work on sites like this, and not a reflection of the true musical value of this great work. When someone is rating an album that we all know well (say, a classic album from the 70s), it is one we have listened to for years, multiple times. So, even for those albums that are very dense, complex and difficult to penetrate at first (think, a lot of the more difficult albums by Yes, GG, the Hatfield's, etc), after multiple listens over many years emerges the musicality that was initially impenetrable to the listener. So, we can say that Tales is a great, musical album and rate it accordingly. However, when a recent album is released, many reviewers will listen to it once or twice, and then review it. The more difficult-to-penetrate albums are then rated down, because they have not had the luxury of multiple listens yet. And multiple listens are absolutely essential - much of the pleasure of good music is derived from the anticipation of knowing what comes next - satisfying that anticipation releases endorphins in the brain, leading to the pleasure we experience when a great section of music we have listened to many times arrives. But an album one listens to once or twice cannot, by definition, do this, particularly one that is more complex and difficult to get initially, even when they are highly musical. Meanwhile, other more-accessible albums that one can easily 'get' on first or second listen then get higher ratings (think many of the recent neo-prog albums). Even worse, on first listen, one might catch a few musical or lyrical references to those older classic 70s albums, and if at the same time the rest of the music seems impenetrable, it is so easy to be derogatory and label the music as just "retro-prog". I think this is patently unfair, and so I make a policy of only reviewing albums that I have listened to multiple times, and also of reviewing the music AS music, regardless of when and by whom it was made, or what is on the album cover.

And this album, to me, stands up there with the best of many of the classics. If it had been released in 1975, I think it would be up there in the top 100. I think if it had the benefit of decades, by now reviewers would know it inside out and would have a different take. It is both very dense (so requiring MANY multiple listens) AND very musical. It takes a long while to cognitively map this album, but once you do, one finds an exceptionally satisfying and beautiful set of music. Even the short slower tune, "Trading My Soul", which many reviewers here on PA seem to dismiss as it strikes them as less progressive and sappy (probably after one or two listens), is exceptionally musical and poignant. It all flows together very well, and even though this album is another example of an over-extended TFK set (over 78 minutes!), it carries you along and the time flies quickly. You don't want it to end!

While TKF albums and songs are, for the most part, not notable for their lyrics, this album is an exception. I really appreciate Roine Stolt's lyrics here - instead of searching around for external topics to write about (like he did in Adam and Eve, and Paradox Hotel), Stolt here writes from the heart. Reviewers seem to have latched onto a few lines (like the title and some lyrics in the long epic "Love is the Only Answer") in their arguments for why this album might be graded down, or deemed retro, etc, without actually listening to the content of the lyrics. Now I don't know Roine Stolt (and have never met him) but it seems to me this is his most personal TFK album. Indeed, I think the entire album is a dialogue with himself about the benefits of continuing with TFK, the sacrifices he and his family have made, and even his relationship with music itself. Stolt is someone who has given his entire life to music, but despite building a small but solid TFK following the band remained precarious. On this album, it seems he is letting on that he has decided to give it one more try, to follow his heart one more time, knowing full well he was getting older, 'trading his soul', and soon would have to make some decisions and reconcile with his other loved ones. Many of the songs are full of personal thoughts (including references to some of Stolt's favourite songs, and heroes, which on this album often take on multiple meanings). "Love is the Only Answer" is not a sappy throwaway, but an internal dialogue negotiating with darkness. The closing piece ("Life in Motion") ended up having a double meaning. He was coming home again to music. But after the tour ('Kaput'!), he folded the TFK for 5 years and actually did go home. Perhaps he was too emotionally drained, perhaps the opportunity to rejoin Transatlantic was just too lucrative, perhaps a number of things, but I wonder what would have happened with TFK if this album had been the one to take off. Regardless, I see this album as a huge musical accomplishment. It contains some of TFK's best compositions, and some of Stolt's most personal and (to me) interesting lyrics. There is not an unmusical minute on it, let alone an unmusical song (whereas other TFK albums usually contain a few duds, this one is just so musical all the way through). The first (and second, and third) time I listened to this, I found it too dense to form an opinion about it, but if I had to might have agreed with those who said it is fragmented and impenetrable. It is a good thing I didn't review it then! I have by now listened to this over 50 times. It is one of the few albums in my collection that just keeps getting better with each listen (those pro-musical endorphins at work!). It is a real keeper. I give it 9.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, and so 5 PA stars.

Report this review (#1703410)
Posted Saturday, March 18, 2017 | Review Permalink

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