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The Flower Kings - The Rainmaker CD (album) cover

THE RAINMAKER

The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog


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Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Lot's of hits and misses on this one. I enjoyed the playing, however, some of the song writing isn't up to par. Some of the lyrical content is laughable, 'here she comes again, smiling like a horse' ? Come on, what kind of lyrics are those? They would be well served with finding a top notch lyricst. The instrumentals are good.

The Flower Kings would be better as an instrumental group. The singing is weak at best and over-dramatic and absurd in many songs, making me wish I hadn't bought this in the first place.

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Send comments to Dan Bobrowski (BETA) | Report this review (#2713)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2003 | Review Permalink
Greger
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Roine Stolt and The Flower Kings seem to have an enormous musical treasure where they are bringing out one musical jewel after the other from. Since 1994 they have released a numerous of albums, double albums, live albums, project albums and solo albums. All of them contain equally good compositions and very few bad ones.

Their music is complex high quality progressive rock with lengthy instrumental passages, beautiful harmonies, odd time signatures, gently jazz influences and Roine Stolt's brilliant guitar playing as the extra spice. In my opinion Roine is one of the world's best composers and guitar players in this genre. The keyboard player Tomas Bodin has a very important part in the Flower Kings sound too. Hasse Fröberg and Roine share the vocal duties and both of them have very good voices. The Flower Kings are combining the best from their musical backgrounds and the music that has inspired them through the years. We're talking about bands such as Camel, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Genesis, Gentle Giant and Yes.

As long as The Flower Kings keeps on releasing such brilliant albums, their fan base will keep on growing and they will sell more and more albums. They deserve it!

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#2702)
Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
paginadeoscar
4 stars Very good album, but, in my opinion, the weaker album of THE FLOWER KINGS, these guys are since a very long time the best band in the world, if we talk about composition even better than DREAM THEATER. I am not critisicing this album but it hasn´t got the level of STARDUST WE ARE, RETROPOLIS, or their last work.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#2703)
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As most of you know The FLOWER KINGS have always held a very special place in my heart with most if not all thier albums reaching gold status in my mind and on my CD player. Certainly after seeing them live 2 nights on their 2001 USA tour has made this strong musical attraction all that much clearer... these guys kick! "Rainmaker" is the recent release for Roine and the lads taking us back into their tight knit symphonic prog layer. "Rainmaker" is another superb installment with no signs of weakening in any way. This full length CD contains 3 huge epic tracks (over 10 mins) and contains some of the most beautiful and emotional music I have heard in a while. This album houses a few more sound effects than other albums and Hasse Froberg has taken on a greater degree of the singing. Dominating this album is of course Roine's wonderful inspiration guitar playing and the brilliant master keyboard strokes of Tomas Bodin. Overall "Rainmaker" is a huge listen and is highly recommended by this FLOWER KING fan.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#2706)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cloud Bursting

When it comes to progressive rock, we should be grateful to the Flower Kings and their peers for continuing to produce fine examples of the genre. I don't always fully appreciate what they do, but their music can at times be a beacon shining to guide the good ship Music back to a safe port(!).

The first track, "Last minute on earth", is an excellent opener, lyrically strong, and with some fine guitar and keyboards. At times, the FKs can try too hard to be progressive, and "Road to Sanctuary" may be a case in point. It is not a bad track, but many of the time changes do not flow well together, as if various themes have been randomly linked just in order to make one long track. The title track is a lovely instrumental with orchestral overtones, and a "Bolero" feel.

For me, Stolt's vocals are the weakest part of the FK's, a point which becomes even more apparent on "City of angels", a track I find to be quite stunning instrumentally. "Sword of God" is surprisingly commercial, a melodic rock song indeed. The band need two instrumental tracks afterwards to get over the shock! The final track, "Serious dreamers" restores normality, although even it has shades of Steely Dan.

In summary, some very good work appears here, but the quality control could at times be a bit tighter.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#2705)
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
robringas@ter
4 stars Im a big fan of the flower kings, and for a long time I thought this one was one of their weakest albums, though I still liked it. But with more and more listens, songs that didnt convinced me now have, and I now rank the CD higherin my list. Last minute on earth is probably their heaviest piece ever, good tempo changes, and majestic vocals,excellent. Serious dreamers has lovely lyrics and good KB solos. Some songs sound a little odd because of their strong 70s influences, but with time you get used to it and get to discover the beauty and craftmanship this band has. Tracks Elaine, and Through the walls are the lamest here(the latter their worst ever in my opinion) and really disrupt the tempo of the album. Take out Through the walls and put in some of the songs in the second CD limited edition, and this one would get five stars for me.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#2714)
Posted Friday, May 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
big_room@yaho
4 stars Once again, The Flower Kings have taken it upon themselves to remind us of the artistic vitality of classic progressive rock. "The Rainmaker" is 77 minutes of sprawling, ambitious, gently psychedelic artsiness in the grand prog traditions of early Yes and Genesis. Without betraying their retrospective vision, the band covers a wide sonic spectrum, ranging from sparse atmospherics to dense swirls, from slinky rock grooves to loosely structured jams. Standout tracks include the focused riff-rock punch of "Sword Of God," the moody balladry and free-ish jazz outro of "Elaine," the dramatic "Serious Dreamers," and the album's three 11+-minute prog epics, "Last Minute On Earth," "Road To Sanctuary," and "City Of Angels."

Every moment of "The Rainmaker" rings with artistic integrity and instrumental virtuosity -- it is progressive rock for true progheads, for listeners whose ears long ago stopped needing training wheels. It may not be distinctive or gripping enough to rate with the genre's elite albums, but it is pure, brilliantly polychromatic prog in its full kaleidoscopic glory, and if your mind is open enough, it's an enormously rewarding listen.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#2715)
Posted Tuesday, July 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars On the one hand I like this album even a bit more than SPACE REVOLVER since it does not contain any song being a complete failure. But on the other hand I've got to say as well that this one is again not one of their strongest ones. Just because it's lacking completely their epic symphonic instrumental parts which is without any doubt musically their strongest field and my favorite of them. THE RAINMAKER is a more song- oriented album and although there are not such highlights as Circus Brimstone or Rumble Fish Twist it's a quite good and very homogeneous one. The album is very well balanced between more rocking and more mellow parts. The highlights are of course the three long tracks Last Minute On Earth having some rather heavy parts, Road To Sanctuary with great instrumental sections and City Of Angels which reminds very much to YES in their heyday. But the rest of the songs is good as well, the title track is a classical one inspired by Ravel's Bolero and in Elaine and Blessing Of A Smile we can enjoy once again the great sax playing by guest musician Ulf Wallander.

Overall THE RAINMAKER is an album bearing not any innovations nor experiments but nevertheless a very good one and a nice listen with lots of excellent prog rock songs.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#2718)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
chessman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I already knew that this album was one that caused quite a few splits amongst fans, and I didn't know what to expect from it. I had heard that it was heavier, and maybe poppier than their other albums. Well, seeing as I like the band anyway, full stop, I bought it. On first hearing it, I was not sure what to make of it. Certainly it seemed poppier, with shorter, more song based tunes, even though three of the tracks are still over 10 mins long. But, the more I listened, the more it got to me, and now I have to say it is one of my favourites. 'Last Minute On Earth' is an exellent starter. Beautiful singing from Hasse Froberg who, on this album, handles more of the lead vocals than usual. Both he and Roine take it in turns to sing lead, both on here, and on other tracks. And the mixture works well. There is superb guitar work on this track, very Holdsworthy in parts, whilst the ending is well worked and effective. 'World Without A Heart' is probably my least fave on the album, but it is, nevertheless, a decent offering. Predominantly vocal, quite short for a Flower Kings song, and not so heavy on the instrumentation, it is still very listenable. 'Road To Sanctuary' was a song that took some time to get into, but was worth the effort. Well crafted, with a nice change of pace near the end, it is typical Flower Kings. 'The Rainmaker', the first of three instrumentals, is probably the weakest. A slow, keyboard led build up, with hesitant, marching drums, it promises more than it delivers, as it doesn't seem to lead anywhere. I have to say, though, the guitar work near the end, and the atmospheric keyboards that follow it made me nod with satisfaction . 'City Of Angels' is the last of the epics, and is one of my favourites. Very catchy, with a memorable melody and, again, superb harmonies, this track sticks in the mind immediately. Brilliant. 'Elaine' is an underrated song. Another shortish, (for this group!) vocally dominated track, it has very thoughtful lyrics, regarding someone who doesn't quite fit in with the majority of people. A very sad, yet true statement. I like this one a lot. 'Thru The Walls' is not the best song here, but, again, is pleasant, if melancholy. 'Sword Of God' is tremendous. Hasse Froberg throws off his Jon Anderson voice here and manages to sound amazingly close to Paul Rogers during the verse. A quite heavy, memorable riff accompanies this rocky song, not very progressive, but classy. The next track, 'Blessing Of A Song' is the second instrumental, and is again catchy, with nice Bodin keyboards. The third instrumental, 'Red Alert' follows this, very short, yet again keyboard led and catchy. Superb. Now we come to the album closer. 'Serious Dreamers' is, maybe, my favourite track on the whole album! Back come the Jon Anderson harmonies in the catchy chorus, back comes the wonderful melody in the verse, and all this is accompanied by high class guitar work. This track is only a second or two under 10 mins, by the way, and is the perfect way to finish a stunning album. I always believe that the last track on an album should be one of the strongest, as it then ends the record on a high, and this certainly does that. I have to say that 'The Rainmaker' is probably my third favourite from The Flower Kings, and whilst it doesn't quite reach the heights of 'Flower Power' or 'Unfold The Future' in my eyes, and even though it is a little different to their other material, even down to the dark and gloomy, untypical cover, it is an essential for all collectors of Flower Kings material. The production is excellent too!

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Send comments to chessman (BETA) | Report this review (#2720)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the only album a have with this band. They sound very good. Musicaly is well put on the portative and every note is where they belong. Great stuff for any prod lover . They soud like Pink Floyd and Genesis, but with a lot of originality. The musicians are very skillfull with the instruments. A good one in every way.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#2721)
Posted Thursday, June 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record introduced me to the Flower Kings. I downloaded the track City of Angels and was struck with awe: Very clever chord progressions, together with totally emotional and inspired vocals, and a very natural use of 11/4 in the verse, captain future style keyboard interludes ... very nice.

It's not the best FK album to start with, although it worked for me. I'd go for Stardust first. It's more diverse than The Rainmaker, which is a bit mellow as a whole (although one of the key aspects of FK/Stolt is dynamics and contrasts).

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Send comments to MikeEnRegalia (BETA) | Report this review (#2722)
Posted Thursday, June 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 Stars

A bit sub par for the Flower Kings but still a very competent album. What stands out from the other albums is that this one is introduces their darkness which will be revisited in Devil's Playground and Paradox Hotel

1. Last Minute On Earth 7/10 : a solid opener. It scared me off with the chanting in the intro, but it really has good vocals, melodies, and Roine Stolt playing hard rock. This track seems to have Spock's Beard Influences, but good ones. Unfortunately, the ending is severely disappointing: it just fizzles out in a nonsensical way.

2. World Without A Heart 5.5/10 : pleasant song that is a relief after the heavy opener, but lacks a good chorus.

3. Road To Sanctuary : 7/10 : The epic of the album. The beginning is promising with influences of Black Dog (zeppelin) in minute 3-4 with the vocals-riffing sections switching. It has dynamics and many changes, yet it seems to lack a bit of direction in the second half.

4. The Rainmaker 6/10 : Bolero-style instrumental song that sounds like a movie soundtrack. It's good, but a bit repetitive.

5. City Of Angels 7/10 : This is an up tempo track with great keyboard playing. The main synth riff is really nice. I also like much of the soloing in it. Sadly, the chorus is not that interesting.

6. Elaine 6.5/10 : The verses are not very interesting musically and its lyrics are laughable. However, the choruses are excellent and the jazzy groove at the end is very interesting, especially if you pay attention to the bass guitar.

7. Thru The Walls 6/10 : the organ riff in the intro and throughout the song is good, as well as the melodies and solos. However, the song lacks a bit of dynamics.

8. Sword Of God 5/10 : I do not enjoy the vocals with distortion in its chorus and they try too hard to sound cool and heavy. It just does not work.

9. Blessing Of A Smile 7/10 : mellow instrumental with good atmosphere and melodies.

10. Red Alert 6/10 : nice instrumental, but too short.

11. Serious Dreamers 6.5/10 : a solid rock&blues closer which foreshadows Roine's latest solo album.

Conclusion : it is Flower Kings' weakest material that I found. It is still better than most prog of today.

My Grade : B/C

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#39170)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another excellent follow-up album from The Flower Kings after their previous excellent work titled "Space Revolver". For me personally, "The Rainmaker" is much more accessible than its predecessor as the music, overall, is more melodic and the music is more solid. This might be the line-up change where Michael Stolt (bass) was replaced by Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar (drums) was replaced by Zoltan Csörsz. The line-up change does not really change The Flower Kings sound, however, it changes the way the music harmony is formed. This is due to Zoltan's truly dynamic drumming, combined with adventurous and inventive bass lines by Jonas. The result is a complex music with excellent harmony which blends stunning guitar work by Roine Stolt, Bodin's floating and soaring keyboard sound - both of them are fully supported with excellent combination of bass guitar, drums, percussion and powerful vocals.

The album kicks off with "Last Minute On Earth" (11:40) which has an intro that blends nice guitar riffs and melody reminiscent of early Genesis featuring Zoltan's acrobatic drumming augmented with keyboard. The music varies from a floating style during first verse lyrical part and it moves upbeat with guitar melody during transition piece and brings the music into fast tempo. The keyboard work by Bodin injects symphonic and sometimes spacey nuance of the song. Throughout music passages I can hear clearly how inventive Jonas plays his bass guitar. This song is great in terms of composition as well as band's performance. It's a WOW track, I would say. I enjoy Stolt guitar solo where Jonas provides really solid and dynamic bass.

"World Without A Heart" (4:29) starts mellow with acoustic guitar rhythm followed with electric guitar melody that welcomes voice line. The song is like a ballad song with good music flow. "Road To Sanctuary" (13:50) brings the music into a bit complex arrangements where organ provides its dominant role during opening. As the song turns faster in terms of tempo, guitar enters the music. I especially like the passage where the keyboard sounds like a vibe combined with rocking guitar solo. This song also provides some acoustic guitar break that accompanies voice line. "The Rainmaker" (6:02) sees the band in its avant-garde style with orchestration, featuring guitar solo augmented with church organ at background. The guitar work is really rocking - an interesting one to listen.

"City Of Angels" (12:04) sees the band performs its music with a keyboard-based intro which brings excellent singing supported with combination of guitar rhythm / effects and medium beat drumming. The music moves to different style with guitar gives nice fills during singing part. "Elaine" (4:55) demonstrates a good combination of acoustic guitar work, vocal and excellent bass lines. "Thru The Walls" (4:31) starts differently with soft punch of organ followed with vocals. Roine Stolt gives his Hackettian guitar style during interlude guitar solo. Really cool.

"Sword Of God" (6:00) begins with a colossal nuance followed with dynamic music that features great guitar melody and riffs. It sounds like a rocker especially on how the guitar riff is played. This is when TFK combines its music with Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. Again, Jonas plays dazzling bass guitar work. "Blessing Of A Smile" (3:12) is a slow track with some blues influence with saxophone and excellent bass guitar. The album concludes excellently with "Serious Dreamers" (8:59).

Overall, it's highly recommended. Some people consider this album is inferior than its predecessor. I disagree. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#42941)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
ocholterman@g
4 stars Maybe I've already gotten to the point where the Flower Kings can't do anything wrong anymore. This album is the fifth I bought and like all the others it's grown on me. Especially the first song, Last Minute On Earth, simply won't leave my head (not that I mind). The instrumentals are strong and the vocals are `alive' (with that I mean: not mixed and refined death). I don't mind an occasional note that's a bit off, certainly not if it's Roine Stolt's. One of the aspects FK-music is the positive (almost fairy tale-like) atmosfere. That is absolutely strong on this album. Still pondering which is my favorite FK album. Maybe not this one, but it ends high on my list. If you like music by the Flower Kings, you will certainly like this album.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#63307)
Posted Thursday, January 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
3 stars This was quite a dissapointment at the time of release. I liked it well enough, but it seemed weak in comparison to the previous album and compared to the concert I purchased it at. The reality is that this was something of a stop gap album. Drummer Jamie Salazar had already quit when the album was recorded, but agreed to do the drums for this one. His performance is probably one of the main let downs with this album. He sounds like he is just fulfilling an obligation and nothing more. The drums were also recorded in a seperate studio (not unusual for the Kings, but up to this point he had done his drum parts at Stolts studio). Again, the overall effect is that he was just fulfilling an obligation and not really very excited about it.

The music itself, while being generally good, is not very exciting or moving the way previous albums had been. Two tracks stand out for me, Last Minute On Earth and Road To Sanctuary. They are the two longest tracks, and to me, the two best. The first is a great opener that gave me high expectations for the rest of the album. The second is a classic Flower Kings mini-epic that hits all the right buttons. Sadly, the rest of the album does not hold to the standard of these two songs. World Without a Heart is a pleasant, but totally forgettable, ballad type piece. The Rainmaker is a very nice symphonic instrumental, something of a march almost, that reminds me of the band The Enid. I still wonder though, why the album was named after this track as I don't find it strong enough to be a title track. City of Angels is actually quite good..........except for the horrible chorus that I simply can not stand even after repeated attempts. Still, they only sing it 3 or 4 times and the second half of the song features excellent synth work from Tomas Bodin. Elaine is another mostly forgettable ballad type piece with somewhat silly lyrics......but ends with an awesome fusion type outro that I wish they would have extended. It seems this was a very small taste of what was to come in the next album, the masterpiece Unfold the Future. Through These Walls I actually like, because it is so different from anything else they have done. For some reason it reminds me of The Doors. Sword of God is one of my least favorite FK songs of all time, sounding like an average hard rock song from the early to mid 80's. The middle break is okay, but over all just too "hard rock" for my taste. Blessing Of a Smile is an atmospheric and rather forgettable short instrumental, while Red Alert is a great little lead in to the final track (I with they would have extended this one.....a very Genesis feel to it). Serious Dreamers is a good song, with a powerful chorus that could easily be mistaken for Yes. Some nice playing on this one and an interesting structure.

So overall, a solid three stars for this one. Good, but not great. Considering this is my least favorite album (though I rank it above CD 2 of Flower Power) along with Adam & Eve, I think it says something about this band that I still can't give it less than 3 stars.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#76334)
Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
AtLossForWords
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Rainmaker featured a new approach by The Flower Kings, so I think this album calls fourth an interesting opportunity to review. The album features many different compositional techniques not showcased on previous albums. The atmosphere is so different from any other Flower Kings release, so it holds an important place in the bands discography from a purely musical standpoint.

As I mentioned earlier, the atmosphere is quite different from previous releases. This is where most of my praise for this album originates. When I listen to this album, I feel The Flower Kings have made songs with truly abstract concepts open to the interpretation of any listener. My personal connection beings with the intro track, Last Minute On Earth. From here forward I could relate to the intellectual struggles of right and wrong occuring within the soul. I found this album to one of the most intimate and touching Flower Kings releases.

Roine Stolt is fantastic. He advances from the bluesy overtones of previous albums like Flower Power to a more mature, emotional, and intimate style of playing. Stolt's melodic guitar playing on this album is second to none. In particular a small section of Sword of God really made an impact on me as a listener. Stolt's playing throughout this album is entirely linked to the other members of the band for building chords and atmospheres. Something Flower Kings fans have seen little of on previous albums where Stolt favors showcasing his own bluesy solo skills. This album is a milestone of composing for Stolt.

Hasse Froberg's vocal abilites really bring this album from being an epic piece of composing, to an emotional art of music. Froberg expands the drama unlike any in his field. He has a perfect voice for contrasting that of Roine Stolt.

Tomas Bodin stuck to much darker keyboard tones on this album. Bodin who has the best consistency of playing epic melodies in this band takes more of an atmospheric and blend role. Bodin makes an excellent contribution to the chordal balance of this album. So much of this wonderful atmosphere is dependant on Tomas Bodin.

Jonas Reingold is extraordinary. His fusion style is perfect for this band. He really brings an entirely different approach from previous bassist Michael Stolt, and that is made clear on this album. Reingold is a virtuoso, the precision he executes his wild runs is incredible.

Jaime Salazaar takes a much different approach to drumming this time. The usually rock solid Salazaar ditches most of his precise style in favor of a looser, busier style. Salazaar's fills on this album are fantastic. Never before on any TFK albums have I been more impressed with the drumming. His cymbal use is quite jazzy again. The way this man works a ride cymbal is something special.

Hasse Brunisson does less yelling than usual. The whistles are still unforgettable and catchy. In fact, some people will even recognize which song they are listening to because of them.

Excellent effort, and quite possibly my favorite Flower King's single disc album. The production is perfect. It's a rarity that the tones in my head match exactly with the tones on this album, so I'll say no more.

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Send comments to AtLossForWords (BETA) | Report this review (#76505)
Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a typical TFK release. As usual, the fist track is one of the best. It combines heavy King Crimson-influenced riffs, Hasse Froberg's Anderson-like epic vocals and some jazz- fussion jamming within a non excesive running time. Great. World without a Heart is a typical short slow song by Stolt with a good anthematic chorus. Other favourites are the other Stolt's ballad, Elaine, featuring great fretless bass playing, and Sword of God which is similar in style to Deep Purple. The instrumentals are OK but nothing outstanding, and there are a couple of weaker tracks, not bad at all, but average: City Of Angels and Serious Dreamers. Overall, this is again a good album by the Flower Kings, not one of their best but as good as Retropolis or Stardust We Are, for example.

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Send comments to eddietrooper (BETA) | Report this review (#76675)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
starlessandbi
5 stars This, along with Space Revolver is a testament to what TFK can do, and is one of my fave albums. A single disc (now a rarely among Stolts more recent releases) it is never over long, and the epics are between 10 and 15 minutes usually, which makes them accessable and, as opposed to epics such as "Love Supreem" on the Adam & Eve album, stops the song dragging on. Personally I can't find the time to listen to a song for 30 minutes without doing something else at the same time (and so I miss bits).

The details here are well composed and executed, from the beauty of "Road to Sanctuary" to the comic band intros in the booklet. The reason I consider this a masterpiece is because unlike I've found with many of TFK's releases, the shorter tracks don't sound like filler (in my view, if a songs put on an album as filler it'd be better of not on there, it only removes the musical tension). Sure, there are atmoshperic tracks that help tell the story of the album, and this may not to everyones tastes, but shorter songs like "Elain" and "Sword of God" stand up on their own, and add to the album. More albums like this please!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#77404)
Posted Sunday, May 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars For a long time I thought The Rainmaker was Flower King's least successful album. The reason is simple: it came after a series of classic CDs and it is simply not par to them. That does not mean this album is bad, or mediocre, not at all. In fact, when I heard it again to write this review I found myself unable to pick up many faults. I have to point that there is almost no filler here, but this concept album does not seem to gel as a whole. There are some fine tunes (like the first track, Last Minute On Earth), but it fails to capture my imagination like any other previous ones did so easily.

Ok, maybe it's just a matter of taste, since, at the time, I was looking for another Retropolis or something like that and, of course, I would not get it. Every Flower King album is different, for the bad or the good. Rainmaker is very different indeed from 2000's Space Revolver, or any other. It's a pity that this CD would be the last with the original drummer Jaime Salazar, who left right before this album was released.

After listening to the whole album many times I can't find no reason not to recommend it to anyone who likes prog music. There are some fine moments here. But on the other hand I can't say it's essential. Good? Yes. But there are other TFK CDs that are better and more inspired. So go for the previous ones before tackling Rainmaker. 3,5 stars for the great musicanship, production and the overall quality of the music.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#105066)
Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
3 stars I have heard several FK albums but the band never really broke thru to me. And yet I made a quick buying decision when I heard a record store playing the bombastic opener 'Last Minute on Earth' (it was in 2003 or 2004, only 10 euros). I liked the cover art too, and the track lengths seemed friendly; I don't dig FK's 20+ minute-epics, and here you get four tracks from 8:59 to 13:50 plus seven shorter tracks. And what really surprises me, none of the tracks is unpleasant to me.

For many this is clearly not FK at their best. Why? The lack of overblown epics? The relatively accessible songs? A couple of rather lame - but beautiful - instrumentals? I believe this is just the right FK album to have if you don't fall for their more ambitious dinosauric works. I think structurally FK belongs to the YES school of prog, but soundwise I hear especially keyboard playing reminding a lot of Gabriel-era GENESIS. That retro ingredient added to the very presice modern playing, and a nice amount of progressiveness without taking it too far, makes up a good 77-minute album. Flower Kings by the numbers, one could say, but it works.

Other FK albums I've listened to include Retropolis, Space Revolver, Unfold the Future and dreadful Adam & Eve. Still, if I was to choose from them, I'd pick Rainmaker. 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#123300)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars WELCOME BACK IN THE WORLD OF GOOD MUSIC

There are apparently mixed feelings about this band. Some people ranking them in the top of the current progressive music, while others are just bored listening to their long albums and justifying their meaning telling that TFK just repeats what has been previously already done.

I categorized myself probably in between those two options. I like very much their very pleasant symphonic music ("Big Puzzle", "There is More to This World" etc.) but dislike at times their too sophisticated (pretentious ?) approach during some lenghty pieces of music ("The Garden Of Dreams"). I guess that you got the picture.

TFK will again pleases their fans with "The Rainmaker". This album will almost fill the maximum CD lenght with 77 minutes of music. I could not really entered within their last works ("Flower Power" and "Alive..."), so let's hear about this one.

First, the long songs.

The opener "Last Minute on Earth" is made of three disctinct parts that are coming back during the song. It is a mix of their nice and melodic sound fully "Yes" oriented, we'll get the usual scrary an repetitive riff from Crimson (the most interesting part here), and something less evident for TFK : we'll get a hard rocking portion which might have been played by Purple. But I must say that all these elements fit well together and this song belongs to the good ones from their production.

"Road to Sanctuary" is a bit more difficult. Loads of heavy keyboards. The long instrumental intro is it is fully ELP and Yes oriented. It sounds a bit harder than a classic TFK song. Rather complex drumming at times. This song will feature nice vocal harmonies as well as good instrumental breaks (especially guitar of course, but not only). All in all a very pleasant track again. A bit too long, maybe.

"City of Angels" is more in the tradition of a true TFK song and therefore pleases me a lot. A bit jazzy and mellow in the first third, it will be pure symphony with a very catchy guitar break (very subtle and quiet) mixed with good background keys. A simple but effective TFK song. One of my favourite on this album.

The closing number "Serious Dreamer" is another beautiful song fully in the vein of their most symphonic work. No need to mention that I appreciate it a lot. A good manner to end this good album.

The short ones :

"World Without a Heart" and "Elaine" are very similar.They are beautiful rock ballads. I have always liked Roine's voice (but don't ask me why), so I really like these sweet pieces of music. Pleasant and soft breaks. "Elaine" will feature an interesting jazzy finale (again, very soft which explains that I like it).

"The Rainmaker" is fully Bolero inspired. It is not the first time that a rock band is using this theme. The two ones I can remember of on the fly are the ones from Crimson and ELP. Two bands that have influenced TFK a lot in their work. No wonder then that they also do an attempt. When compared to the other two, I rank this one in the middle : before ELP but after Crimson.

"Thru the Walls" is my least prefered song so far. A bit dull and uninspired. The heavy mood of "Sword Of God" is not really appealing to my ears either. Another weak one. "Blessing of A Smile" is another instrumental break but nothing great; as the very short "Red Alert"

This album is of course not an essential work. I still believe that "Retropolis" and "Stardust" are their best ones so far. This album coming slightly after in my taste (along with "Back In The World...", their debut album). I believe that if some songs would have been deleted from the tracklist (the quatuor from "Thru..." till "Red Alert"), this album would still have clocked at 62 minutes (which is a very decent lenght, IMO) and I would have rated with four stars.

As such, three stars but a nice come back from this good band.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#123545)
Posted Sunday, May 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of the weaker albums of The Flower Kings. It contains some good songs, like Last Minute on Earth, and Road to Sanctuary, my favourite, and the only one at the level of the great compositions of other albums. World Without a Heart is quite good too, closing the first half an hour, the best of the album.

The song The Rainmaker is just one of those experiments with sounds and little more, and the result are six minutes of a boring progression to nowhere. Maybe it would work like a short transition of a few minutes.

The rest of the album are just good songs, with some interesting moments, and fits perfectly with the three stars/good, but non- essential label.

There are more than a couple of symptoms, forms, that five years latter appear again in Paradox Hotel, but, of course, with a better result. For example, the final track, Serious Dreamers is quite similar to the final of the first disc, End on a High Note. The style of Last Minute on Earth, and Sword of God is just the same rock style took for Paradox Hotel. With City of Angels happens something similar than with Monsters and Men, falling in a repetitive circle to the end that could be cut before. All in all, both are pure Flower Kings albums, but it had caught my attention.

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Send comments to Proglodita (BETA) | Report this review (#132772)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For quite some time now I know all the (studio)albums by TFK and I'm amazed how constant they are in their performance over 12 years now. They never made a real poor album and since the legendary Genesis and Yes can't even achieve this I think it's worth a compliment for The Flower Kings.

But of course there are always better and lesser albums, that's only logical. And somehow this is one of their least. I can't really get my finger on it why, I think because on this one a real highlight is lacking. And as usual (in my opinion) their shorter songs are not really the best so if you put that all together this is almost a medicre album at least for TFK standards. But don't worry, I love their music so much that even this one will get 4 stars. I'll give a short description for the individual tracks.

1. Last minute on earth. Very good epic, but in TFK history it's not quite their best. 4,5 stars.

2. World without a heart. Nice shorter song. Not too special. 3 stars.

3. Road to sanctuary. If there is a highlight it's this one. Very good epic. 4,75 stars.

4. The Rainmaker. I don't really care for this one. Bit of strange vocal aspect by (I think) Tomas. 2,75 stars.

5. City of Angels. One of their least epics of all time. Something special is lacking in this one. 3,75 stars.

6. Elaine. Sensitive lyrics by Roine. Ballad like short song. 3 stars.

7. Thru the walls. Another one not too special to me. 3 stars.

8. Sword of God. This one is a lot better. 4 stars.

9. Blessing of a smile. Ballad-like short song. 3 stars.

10. Insignificant very short song. 2 stars.

11. Serious dreamers. One of my very favourites. Really great composition with much variation. 4,75 stars.

So all in all not that bad. Problem is just that they have done so much better through the years. So 4 stars because measured in time I come to an average of 3.8.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#149506)
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I think this one is a bit underrated. While not being able to contend with the releases that surround it, Space Revolver and Unfold the Future, it is still a great, albeit inconsistent release. We may run into issues of filler tracks, but the bulk of this record is top-notch Flower Kings. The band have settled down a bit and developed a sound with less bombast and more atmosphere. While the band would culminate in the fusing of their bombast and experimentalism with thick atmosphere on the next album, this one still serves us a huge platter of brilliance. The 4 longer tracks are the highlights, and since they take up almost 50 minutes of the disc, it's already worth having. "Last Minute on Earth" and "Road to Sanctuary" are hard rockin' pieces, of course containing many hooks and stylistic shifts, with some moments of beauty, while "City of Angels" and "Serious Dreamers" are more balladesque, still containing many shifts and hooks. These four songs contain some of the most memorable passages in the band's discography. Even the weaker tracks are enjoyable; "World Without a Heart" is peppered with some tasty slide guitars, fretless bass lines and good melodies and "Elaine" is brought to a close with a funky jazz passage featuring the saxophones of Ulf Wallander. Don't let the intro lyric of that song "here she comes again smiling like a horse" give you the wrong impression! It sounds laughable, and while I admittedly have laughed at some of their lyrics, the band was trying to create a laughable image! I think that is crucial to the point of the song.

That atmospheric element I spoke of earlier really comes out in the album's instrumentals. The band decided not to dish out another wild and wacky number like "Rumble Fish Twist," but instead decided to try out a brooding highly atmosphere-oriented piece in "The Rainmaker." It's not even like the end of the aforementioned piece. This one has a theme, which is above a slowly building background with some soloing until the throbbing rhythm takes over and the band begins to create soundscapes for the remainder of the track. Toward the end of the album we also have "Blessing of a Smile," which is another ambient piece with some soloing and that is followed by "Red Alert," which is a short, peppy recount of some melodies from earlier in the album.

The second half of the album lacks some direction, but luckily we are treated to a great closer, and there are enough moments in between to keep your attention. The Rainmaker is no start-to-finish masterpiece, but there are a handful of masterpieces within the album. And truth be told, it's more consistent than most of the records that preceded it.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#150797)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is one of the lowest rated studio albums that THE FLOWER KINGS have recorded. I knew that before I started to listen to it, yet "The Rainmaker" still brought some sunshine into my prog world. This is surprisingly good. These guys consistantly put out great songs, in fact there isn't one FLOWER KING record that doesn't have at least one killer track on it. Their drummer Jaime Salazar would leave after this record, this was known before this album was put out, and I must say he delivers probably his best performance up to this point.

"Last Minute On Earth" is such a great tune. It opens with what sounds like native chanting(The Rainmaker) and this voice will return later in the album. Heavy drums and guitar follow. Both sound amazing ! Some organ adds to the sound. A calm and vocals come in. Hasse is the vocalist here and he sounds very passionate. The contrast of calm and heavy continues. A change 5 minutes in as it speeds up with organ, guitar and drums leading the way. Vocals and a calm are back 7 1/2 minutes in. "World Without A Heart" is a mellow track with strummed guitar, bass, light drums, piano and relaxed vocals. "Road To Sanctuary" is the longest song on here with the usual changes in tempo and mood. From uptempo to dark and dramatic. Some aggressive vocals 2 minutes in. Xylophone before 4 minutes. A calm with flute after 5 minutes. Fragile vocals and a calm before 7 minutes. A keyboard melody leads the way 10 minutes in with some great guitar melodies.

"The Rainmaker" is one of my favourites. It starts slowly before marching-like drums and soaring guitar melodies come in. Nice. An atmospheric track with some mellotron 4 minutes in. Synths to end it. "City Of Angels" opens with such a beautiful upbeat sound. Vocals follow. Just a feel good track, although there are different moods presented throughout this 12 minute song. I like the guitar led melody that is so tasteful later on in the song. "Elaine" is ok I guess, it's a mellow track and i'm not sure what to think of the lyrics. "Thru The Walls" opens with organ that reminds me of Banks. This is another relaxed tune. The Rainmaker is back chanting late in the song. "Sword Of God" is a great song with some ripping guitar and passionate vocals. The drumming and keyboard work is outstanding as well. This is surprisingly heavy. "Blessing Of A Smile" is an instrumental with sax, and it does make me smile. "Red Alert" is another instrumental at just over a minute in length. This is bouncey with lots of keys. "Serious Dreamers" is one of those songs that seems to get better as it plays out. Vocals, drums and synths lead the way on this one.

I really don't think these guys could make a bad album. In fact if you ever see any of their cds new or used that you don't have... buy !

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#157918)
Posted Sunday, January 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first introduction to The Flower Kings wasn't long ago, in fact it came at the beginning of this year when I bought 5 of their albums at once, without hearing a single note... I love The Tangent and just had to hear what The Flower Kings sounds like.

At first I didn't like them all that much. I didn't think their music was bad, well not at all, but I also didn't think of their music as being great and I just couldn't get into it.

I listened to all 5 of those albums as often as I could and at first The Rainmaker was the one that I liked the least. Thing is, I bought a [&*!#]load of Prog during the first few month of this year, almost 60 CD's in total, and I suppose there just wasn't and isn't enough hours in a day to have processed and really appreciate all those wonderful albums at once. But as time went by and I could spend a significant amount of time on each of them and I learned and started to really appreciate The Flower Kings.

They are amazing musicians who write extraordinary songs. The Rainmaker is a great album. It is packed to the brim with quality music and is perfectly produced to fill your room and ears with it's huge sounding and beautiful melodies. Lovely stuff.

I highly recommend this album and if on the first couple of spins it doesn't seem like your cup of tea, I urge the listener to give it some time. It will grow on you and you will love it.

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Send comments to Bathory (BETA) | Report this review (#178143)
Posted Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Interesting release by TFK. This was the follow up to the wonderful Space Revolver. The first few listens I thought this was a fantastic album...but then time went on...so I decided to revisit this album 7 years after first hearing it. Here is how this one stacks up:

The first song starts out with a bang with Last Minute on Earth. What a great opener, everything you look for in a Flower Kings track. Then comes World Without a Heart....OK, we know Roine Stolt likes to throw in some softer songs and he likes to take a lot of chances. And that is why a lot of listeners feel they include too much filler material on every album. I am fine with it, as long as these softer numbers do not become the majority. They have their time and place and World Without a Heart fits here because of what comes next. Road to Sanctuary is one of my favorite Flower Kings numbers ever. What a well constructed song! Tomas Bodin shines on this one with his blazing keys. Hasse Froberg also sounds magnificent (as he always does). The lefty singer/guitar player seems to be the unsung hero within the group. Stolt usually receives a lot of the credit, and rightly so, but Froberg is sometimes overshadowed. And I feel Jonas Reingold is one of the best bass players in prog today but his talents are not always displayed on every Flower Kings song.

OK, so the first 3 tracks are wonderful! Then.......what comes next seems to be nothing but a distant memory. The next 8 tracks seem to be forgettable, not on par with usual Flower Kings material. There are some more softer, filler instrumental numbers and a few normal songs. But nothing that I want to return to anytime soon. That is why when I think of this album, I think of the 2 great mini epics, Last Minute on Earth and Road to Sanctuary and that is pretty much it. Why listen to the rest of this album when they have so many better songs? I would rather listen to Stardust or Space Revolver instead. So the staying power has worn off after my first few listens over the years. In fact, I would rate this as the lowest Flower Kings output, even lower than Adam and Eve (it wasn't THAT bad). But since the 2 excellent songs are that good, the rating cannot be lower than 3 stars, but it cannot be any higher either. I think we have a true 3 star release on our hands, nothing more nothing less....may prog be with you....

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Send comments to cutsofmeat (BETA) | Report this review (#179971)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is probably the weakest, or rather the least interesting studio album The Flower Kings have released so far. Which means, all in all, it's a quite decent effort that leaves me with the feeling of a great outfit in a less inspired hour. It's not a failure or an embarrassment of the variety that most good bands, admittedly, come up with now and then. It is just comparably bland, when put next to brilliant or at least really imaginative and beguiling albums such as "Flower Power", "Space Revolver", "Paradox Hotel" and....well, most of the other ones in their catalogue. This one is sometimes a bit stiff and monotone in comparison, with some not-so-memorable tunes that I simply tend to forget altogether, and some suites that don't carry the weight they should. "Last Minute on Earth" and "Serious Dreamers" work well enough, but they never soar like the strongest symphonic tracks the band has shown itself capable of. Does this album qualify for three stars? Well, I think so, but not by a wide margin considering the potential that evidently is there. This is to the Flower Kings what for example "Abacab" is to Genesis. There is, on the whole, nothing real spectacular or sensational going on here. Worth a listen, but definitely not the kind of introduction you would suggest to a newcomer in the Flower Kings universe.

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Send comments to sanjuansueco (BETA) | Report this review (#199151)
Posted Thursday, January 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This was quite a disappointment at the time of release. I liked it well enough, but it seemed weak in comparison to the previous album and compared to the concert I purchased it at. The reality is that this was something of a stop gap album. Drummer Jamie Salazar had already quit when the album was recorded, but agreed to do the drums for this one. His performance is probably one of the main let downs with this album. He sounds like he is just fulfilling an obligation and nothing more. The drums were also recorded in a separate studio (not unusual for the Kings, but up to this point he had done his drum parts at Stolt's studio). Again, the overall effect is that he was just fulfilling an obligation and not really very excited about it.

The music itself, while being generally good, is not very exciting or moving the way previous albums had been. Two tracks stand out for me, Last Minute On Earth and Road To Sanctuary. They are the two longest tracks, and to me, the two best. The first is a great opener that gave me high expectations for the rest of the album. The second is a classic Flower Kings mini-epic that hits all the right buttons. Sadly, the rest of the album does not hold to the standard of these two songs. World Without a Heart is a pleasant, but totally forgettable, ballad type piece. The Rainmaker is a very nice symphonic instrumental, something of a march almost, that reminds me of the band The Enid. I still wonder though, why the album was named after this track as I don't find it strong enough to be a title track. City of Angels is actually quite good..........except for the horrible chorus that I simply can not stand even after repeated attempts. Still, they only sing it 3 or 4 times and the second half of the song features excellent synth work from Tomas Bodin. Elaine is another mostly forgettable ballad type piece with somewhat silly lyrics......but ends with an awesome fusion type outro that I wish they would have extended. It seems this was a very small taste of what was to come in the next album, the masterpiece Unfold the Future. Through These Walls I actually like, because it is so different from anything else they have done. For some reason it reminds me of The Doors. Sword of God is one of my least favorite FK songs of all time, sounding like an average hard rock song from the early to mid 80's. The middle break is okay, but over all just too "hard rock" for my taste. Blessing Of a Smile is an atmospheric and rather forgettable short instrumental, while Red Alert is a great little lead in to the final track (I with they would have extended this one.....a very Genesis feel to it). Serious Dreamers is a good song, with a powerful chorus that could easily be mistaken for Yes. Some nice playing on this one and an interesting structure.

So overall, a solid three stars for this one. Good, but not great. Considering this is my least favorite album (though I rank it above CD 2 of Flower Power) along with Adam & Eve, I think it says something about this band that I still can't give it less than 3 stars.

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#215185)
Posted Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars The best simile I can use is to say this album is like a beautiful jigsaw where none of the pieces fit together. The musicians are all experts in what they bring to this effort, but the compositions neither flow with one another nor with themselves. And some things on here (like some notorious lyrics) are just plain lazy.

"Last Minute On Earth" The first of three lengthy tracks begins with throat singing, which is an odd but unique way to start. It is difficult to comment on this track because I feel it springs all over the place without any clear direction. There's a solid chorus, but that's about it. As will be a constant pleasure on this album, Jonas Reingold lays down some thick and dynamic bass riffs throughout. Unfortunately, the ending fizzles away in a bunch of directionless nonsense.

"World Without A Heart" It isn't necessary that an album begin with all guns blazing, and as strange as it may sound, I feel this soft and acoustic song might have served as a more interesting and delightful first song. It contains one of Roine Stolt's better moments as lead vocalist. Despite it's gentle simplicity, this is one of the best tracks on the album.

"Road To Sanctuary" The longest track made my ears perk up with that great organ introduction from Tomas Bodin, but the call and response nature of the vocals and music put me off. There's a lot going on in this song, and it's too bad none of it seems to fit together. The gentle classical and steel-string acoustic guitar duet is a nice change of pace from the heavier fare, however.

"The Rainmaker" Barely audible music and distant rumbling introduce this Bolero, which sounds like it would make for excellent video game music, particularly an old military real time strategy.

"City Of Angels" The third and final track over ten minutes is a wakeup call from the previous, sleep-inducing one. This is the bright-eyed band The Flower Kings usually are, full of cheerful sounds and sprightly keyboards. But the Toto-like chorus sounds like bad R&B sung by a group of people who just met. Bodin's keyboard solo is the highlight of the music, but it's just not enough to make this a standout piece of music.

"Elaine" Yes, this is the song with that god-awful line, "Here she comes again smiling like a horse." What compelled Stolt to pen such bizarre and silly similes and metaphors is beyond me, especially over such lovely music. Reingold struts his stuff throughout the instrumental section of this song, upstaging the saxophonist in a big way, and showing that he is one of the best bassists still breathing.

"Thru The Walls" Stolt's weakest vocal performance on the album, this short song is at once boring and tough to follow. The throat singing returns unexpectedly.

"Sword Of God" After a brief choral opening, the hardest track on the album explodes. It sounds like a blend between early 1990s hip hop and hard rock. Mainly, it's loud and obnoxious.

"Blessing Of A Smile" After such an irritating track, this is a great return to the majestic music the band is capable of. The keyboards move underneath the saxophone in this peaceful instrumental.

"Red Alert" This is merely a ninety-second revisiting of some earlier themes.

"Serious Dreamers" Bodin begins the final track with amazing synthesizer, but things suddenly change for the worst. Folks, this is The Flower Kings doing 1990s R&B, something that just shouldn't happen.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#221434)
Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I shall review this in order of my preference... 1. Road to Sanctuary - More excellence from the Flokis, as usual the longest composition is the best, gorgeous hammond work and silky guitar licks..then gives way to classical guitar and assorted keys, the instrumental work is tremendous and a rather good finale as expected, with the usual Stolte Guitar virtuosity. This track has Yes like parts but it's not really derivative. 2. The Rainmaker - Instrumental, Pipe organ and sumptuous synths and nice mellotron - parts of it remind me of the sound track to "Predator 1" - The usual ace guitar makes this one of the best instrumentals by TFK. 3. Serous Dreamers - Excellent keyboards and just Symphonic prog at it's best - this track ISNT long enough - reckon there was latitude to make this a fifteen or sixteen minute effort - then it might have replaced Road to sanctuary as best track. 4. City of Angels - Again sumptuous keyboards get this off to a flier and this track has a moog solo as well - Nice synth riffs to end and the usual build up to an epic crescendo finish. 5. Sword of God / Thru the Walls / Blessing of a smile / Red Alert - these four tracks are all too hard to separate, Sword of God is heavy like deep Purple while thru the walls showcases mellotron and organ with a Hackettesque guitar bit as well. Blessing of a smile and Red Alert are both instrumentals with assorted keyboard work. 6 The opener has a nice heavy riff but this track is spoilt by a weird pointless noises ending. 7. World without a heart & Elaine are two shorter ballads and definately the weakest two tracks on this CD. Overall - doesn't get near the epics of the later CD's - but a solid 4 stars because some of the tracks (top three) are essential to have in your symphonic cd collection. FOUR STARS.

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Send comments to M27Barney (BETA) | Report this review (#229940)
Posted Tuesday, August 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This is not my favorite album by The Flower Kings, nor is it my favorite. At least it doesn't have any songs or sections that put me off, or bore me, as did parts of Paradox Hotel. Well, the songs are all competent, and, like many albums by The Flower Kings, when the songs get too complacent sounding the mood swiftly changes.

The best song to my ears is Elaine where the excellect bass playing of Jonas Reingold carries the song along. The rest, there are some nice sections in most of the songs, you just sometimes have to wait for them. So don't go out of your way for this one, but if you find it at a good price, it's worth it.

If this review sounds wishy-washy, sorry. This disk sometimes sounds good, but not great, and sometimes just fails to catch my interest.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#247876)
Posted Monday, November 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is The Flower Kings sixth studio album, and it might be one of their worst ones. Even though this is one of, what I think, is their worst album it still brings a lot to the table. Its tracks, for the most part are very solid except for the occasional two or three. I bought this album in CD form and I was very happy, but after listening to it for a little while I realized that it was not their best work. I also realized that it was a lot darker than the others I had. Now onto the music :

1/11 Last Minute on Earth: Groaning vocals in the beginning made me wonder about where this song was going. But it saved itself by going into an awesome chorus with drums and guitar. One really cool thing about this song is that it keeps the same kind of riff, but it changes a little bit each tome they play it. That offers this track a very different feel. There were some very good instrumental parts in the middle and end that transfer into piano to round out the song. It is easily the best song on the album, and a very classic TFK song.

2/11 World Without a Heart: An acoustic guitar opens the song but it soon goes to Roine Stolt on the electric. The vocals are pretty good and the harmonies really add to it. The lyrics actually relate to the title, unlike many of the of the songs The Flower Kings put out. Vocals fade out than come back in, but they are distorted a bit and it detracts from the total of the song.

3/11 Road to Sanctuary: Starts with keys and drums that slowly flow into a good instrumental chorus. Synths start in, and the chorus alters slightly giving the track the same kind of feel from "Last Minute on Earth". This song relies more on synths than the other ones but the guitars bring it up. Vocals in the middle aren't the best and their sense is lost on me. Then the piano comes back in along with a varied chorus. Two thirds of the way through the song they totally switch it up to the point that it doesn't even resemble the beginning. Near the end of the song everything drops out except for piano and the riff appears again. Although I really enjoyed it the song seemed to drag on.

4/11 The Rainmaker: The title track to this album disappoints majorly. It is an instrumental, but I am not sure if you can even call it that because it lacks skill and sound quality. The song would be okay if it weren't the title track, but title tracks are supposed to be the center piece.

5/11 City of Angels: Synth guitar starts right out than it lowers and the vocals take part. It has a good riff and instrumental chorus. The voice chorus is very catchy too. Tomas Bodin plays a very important part in this song especially in the instrumental outro. Definitely the second best song on this CD.

6/11 Elaine: Vocals start off the song with guitars in the background. It tells the story of a boy who wants a girl and shows his life. The vocal harmonies are very good and sax is present on almost this entire track.

7/11 Thru the Walls: An organ makes its presence heard in this song, but other than this new instrument this song is a disappointment. The vocals are a bit lame, but they go along with the simple drumming.

8/11 Sword of God: Gospel singing gives this song a change of pace in the beginning. The guitaring from Mr. Stolt sounds a bit slippery sounding but it goes good with the changing vocals. Vocals fade into an instrumental part to end the song.

9/11 Blessing of a Smile: A trumpet blares in the beginning which really jolts you out of yourself. The trumpet soon dies away giving you an eerie feeling, but it is taken away when more classical instruments join in. the end saves the song from being totally lost.

10/11 Red Alert: A very happy song contrasts majorly from "Blessing of a Smile". It sounds like it is an add on from "Road to Sanctuary" with the same type of riffs and instruments.

11/11 Serious Dreamers: This song is very pop sounding which is a major change from the other tracks. The chorus has a syncopated rhythm and sounds really good with Roine singing. The harmonies blend in really well and Mr. Bodin is showcased in the ending.

It's a classic Flower Kings album that is very synth driven and has some very catchy vocals. If you really want to get into this album I would listen to the first and fifth songs first since these are the best. Overall it is good, but some of the songs aren't needed. The Rainmaker earns a 3.5.

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Send comments to The Block (BETA) | Report this review (#255927)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A 2001 release, and my third TFK review, this is a solid album, without, I think, being exceptional.

We all expect a special epic to open proceedings with, and Last Minute on Earth does not disappoint. Aside from a strange opening, the vocals on this by Hasse Froberg are really pleasing, and the whole track has the precise symphonic feel that I love so much about the band. A grandiose attempt, spoiled a little bit by a rather aimless conclusion, as if the band simply HAD to fill up 60 seconds with endless jamming.

World Without a Heart is a lovely four and a half minute track, with a fragile vocal by Stolt and some gentle slide guitar and backing from other departments. It should not be forgotten that this band do also do ballads very well, and this is a very enjoyable one.

Road to Sanctuary is the longest track on the album, at almost 14 minutes. I love the keyboard led focus of this track, it is very much moulded within the classic symphonic tradition, and certainly the letters ELP are written all over the opening passage to this one. Just short of four minutes in, the track reverts to more traditional TFK territory, before a very quiet acoustic guitar & flute led passage. Really nice musicianship is present here. There are many mood changes within this track, too many really to detail in a limited time review, but I really do enjoy the quieter passages, which I think feature some of Stolt's finest acoustic guitar work. This epic finishes not with a huge bang, but with a gentle downplay. It's not any the worst for that.

The title track is up next. Very slow intro section, described by many as Bolero inspired, and I can see where they are coming from, there is a fantastic guitar solo to come, with soaring melodies. Nice to hear mellotron come to the track at four minutes in, before other keys take over for the remainder accompanied by a low and deep bass line from Reingold. This is a competent instrumental rather than a standout epic by the band.

City of Angels is the next epic clocking in at just over 12 minutes long. This starts off in the most sunny and upbeat manner possible, a fantastic opening. There are some nice vocal harmonies, and the listener is very much reminded of Fragile era Yes again. Retro symphonic prog at its most obvious, there are some nice passages, but I don't find it consistent and joined up enough to hold the attention much.

Elaine is another ballad, with some exceptional work by Reingold on bass especially. I like Stolt's vocals on this, even if some of the lyrics are rather cheesy.

I like the heavy organ on the intro to Thru The Walls, but, again, this is not a particularly coherent track, and struggles to hold the attention.

Sword of God gets things back on track, with the music bursting into a heavy set of riffs, following on from a deceptively choral opening. I like this one - heavy, moody, and rocking.

Blessing of a Smile quietens down proceedings again, this is a lovely instrumental, with exceptional combinations of bass guitar, sax, and keyboards. Very pleasing, very gentle, this is the band at their best.

I'm not quite sure what the point of Red Alert was, in all honesty. This is a one minute instrumental revisiting some of the earlier passages, and I for one would have preferred them to have extended this into a longer track in order to develop it properly. As it is, a one minute noodle does nothing at all.

The album closes with Serious Dreamers. An excellent way to close the album, this rescues the album a little bit from meandering here and there. Some great vocals set to a good bluesy feel, nine minutes of sheer pleasure.

This band do not do bad albums, and, as with most of their work, there are soaring highs and moments when you are in the company of genius. Equally, there are infuriating moments, and there are a couple more on this one that some other albums.

With a half point rating system, this would get 3.5 stars, but I cannot describe it as an excellent album with which to get into the band, so a solid three stars it is. Some fantastic moments, but the school report would state capable of so much more.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#283232)
Posted Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really thought this album was going to be a wee bit average (but an average Flower Kings album is better than most crap that people make), but it really wasn't, it was just so good, it captivated my heart strings from the first listen.

This I believe is when the King's really honed in on all their good qualities, and putting their slightly weaker ones to be, basically making the songs more melodic, catchier, and letting Hasse sing a fair amount of them.

This album is also quite dark compared to their other albums, and has some werid old pervet sounds now and then, but it doesn't take away from the splendour of the songs themselves.

1. Last Minute On Earth - That main riff is just amazing, quite dark for these guys, but so powerfull and rocking. This song overall is just amazing, and it is rather cathcy and very powerfull. 10/10

2. World Within A Heart - Very ballad like, calm and soothing and quite cathcy. 9/10

3. Road To Sanctuary - The most "prog" song on the album, it being nearlly 14 minutes long. Very melodic with some amazing instrumental work. 9/10

4. The Rainmaker - A very atmospheric instrumental, that has a thick texture throughout. The build up is intense. 10/10

5. City Of Angels - My favourite song on the album. Very catchy, and the ending is very beautifull. 10/10

6. Elaine - The lyrics are very stupid, but it is a nice wee catchy song. 10/10

7. Thru The Walls - Reminds me of 80's King Crimson. Great song with some rather odd lyrics. 9/10

8. Sword Of God - What a rocking song. Quite heavy and very catchy. The lyrics are quite Old Testament. 10/10

9. Blessing Of A Smile - The Rainmaker II basically. 10/10

10. Red Alert - Short and sweet. 10/10

11. Serious Dreamers - An amazing ending. Some amazing jazzy instrumental work. 9/10

CONCLUSION: So far, this is their strongest album. A real modern masterpiece.

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#289234)
Posted Monday, July 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my "voyage" through TFK production, I now reach their weakest CD, according to people that have reviewed this reknown group, i.e. 3.47 at that point, when half of the rest of their music is at least at 3.8. Well, there are some epics, which characterizes The Flower Kings, and as usual they are the main attractions, musically speaking. And of course, the shorter tracks are responsible for not going always to 5/5... It is the same here. But how about the epics and their overall effect ?

I feel those epics (tracks #1-3-5-11) are as good and super-prog productions as we see on other CD's. Maybe not as complete and outstanding as "Stardust we Are" or "the Truth will Set you Free", but still excellent indeed. The keys of Bodin, the guitar of Stolt, the singing of Fröberg, the bass of Reingold are again at top-notch, and their interlink is again full of variations, very melodic and complex.

I saw reviewers hesitate to go for 4/5, when an in-between note of 3.5 would be more accurate. In my opinion, the epics here counterbalance the weaker songs (but still at least OK with some good moments...), and I see this approaching the status of "excellent" (which will not be the case for "Paradox Hotel", coming soon...). You will appreciate those four "better" tracks, enough to add this to a good prog collection. Of course, because it is TFK !

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Send comments to Progdaybay (BETA) | Report this review (#360593)
Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, The Flower Kings has always been a "love or hate" question. Some think it is ridiculous to use sounds from the 70's and their music brings nothing new, while others state they are the successors of prog giants like Genesis, Yes or Camel, and they succeed into sounding modern through their vintage influences. IMHO The Flower KIngs (TFK for short) are an amazing band: creative, eccentric and sometimes surprising. "The Rainmaker" is a good example of their talent.

On "The Raimaker", all the members shine: Roine Stolt (guitars, vocals) with his cool and soulful style, Hasse Froberg (Lead vocals, rythm guitar) with his powerful voice, Tomas Bodin (keyboards) impressive as usual, Jonas Reingold (bass) an incredible musician and even Jaime Salazar (or Zoltan Csorsz according to some sources, so who plays what on drums?). So what did TFK this time?

The first track "Last Minute on Earth" (which became one of the band's classic) brings us a beautiful answer. The powerful riff brings something a little new to TFK's universe before the magnificent Yes-like vocals comes in. Then all the band's genius is showed: ingenious and powerful instrumental breaks, bluesy guitars, cool organs, bass solos (in a Pastorius style), a folk section, jazzy parts with an intense groove... This is not surprising this song was one of their favorite in concert!

The two other long tracks "Road to Sanctuary" and "City of Angels" follows the same way of inventivity. The first one is maybe even more dynamic with its Emerson-like keyboards, while the last one is more appeased with beautiful vocals harmonies and impressive instrumental breaks. The three songs can form a trilogy about the life after death. A really brilliant work!

The other songs are good too but some just don't reach the level of the three epics. For example, "World without a Heart" is cool with its bluesy guitar, "Selene" a good ending brek with Ulf Wallander's saxophone solo and "Thru The Walls" a kind of strange atmosphere for TFK, but they bring nothing particulary new. But, there are good achievements in the other songs. For example, the title track with its lush climax and the impressive guitar solo by Roine Stolt is an highlight of the album. "Sword of God" is a cool heavy-blues tune giving a chance to shine to Froberg on vocals. "Blessing of a Smile" and "Red Alert" are pleasent instrumentals showing Bodin's ability on keyboards. The last song "Serious Dreamer" is beautiful and offers an excellent ending to the album.

So, all in all "The Rainmaker" is an excellent album, which offers some of the best TFK's moments but more dispensable work too (which is understable with a 76 minutes length). In fact, the only thing missing is more madness and adventurous spirit, the elements that made "Stardust We Are" and "Unfold the Future" masterpieces.

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Send comments to Usandthem (BETA) | Report this review (#722774)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
3 stars This is a band that have managed to move on yet not change their sound very much since their inception in 1993. I still regularly play Roine Stolt's solo album 'The Flower King', and the sound of the band that he put together around that still keep that vision shining through. There are not many bands that are immediately recognisable, and Roine manages to keep his work in this band fairly distant from his work in the prog supergroup Transatlantic.

Well what can you expect from the new album? Great musicianship, of course, songs that are as short as 70 seconds ("Red Alert") or as long as fourteen minutes ("Road To Sanctuary"). There are some that are slow and some that are quick, but for the most part they all contain those elements and many more. Their use of layered vocals almost comes across as The Moody Blues at times, and the whole result is a prog album that is a joy to listen to that doesn't take too much concentration. Call it prog, call it melodic rock, call it good.

Originally appeared in Feedback #64, Oct 01

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#970762)
Posted Tuesday, June 04, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Serious Dreamers to the rescue.

The Rainmaker is extensive and in many parts, bland . Indeed, except Serious Dreamers and a good part of City of Angels, in the rest of the songs are good sections and other uninspired or meaningless. Strangely, it is an album that loses interest with repeated listens and over time, contrary to most of the productions of The Flower Kings.

Last Minute on Earth and Road to Sanctuary (excellent in the quiet sections) could be part of the classic songs of this legendary band with an extensive discography , but do not contain intelligent musical arrangements are very long and uneven, stay halfway. City of Angels generates me best feelings, although not perfect. Serious Dreamers is one of my favorites of the band. The short tracks do not offer too; perhaps the most enjoyable are World Without a Heart and Blessing of a Smile.

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#1157999)
Posted Sunday, April 06, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars On "The Rainmaker", The Flower Kings did what they supposed to do, a record with much music to please their fans. It's the band's sixth studio album and it was recorded 2001. The cover shows a man in suite standing in water on a street in the night. I like the cover and I also like a lot of what I hear on the record. The musicians are Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin, Hasse Fröberg, Jonas Reingold, Jamie Salazar, Hasse Bruniusson and Ulf Wallander. The lenght of the record is big but not especially big in The Flower Kings' size.

The music on "The Rainmaker" won't give you something especially new if you are used to the sound of this band and I don't think it's a good place to start following this band at either. It is not a bad album but I won't say it's a glorious one either.

As it often uses to be with prog the longest songs seem to be the best. "Road to Sanctuary" is this album's longest and also the one I find most exciting. It has many passages and a fine flow, a good main theme and instrumental brilliance(8/10). Beside that song the title track, the instrumental "The Rainmaker" appeals to me with its modesty and progression(7/10). "Last minute on Earth" although has a quite repeting chorus but the song proves good musicality(6/10) and "City of Angels" too is a pleasant song(6/10) just as the rocky "Sword of God"(6/10) and the two instrumentals "Blessing of a smile" and "Red Alert"(6/10). The others feel a bit uninteresting to me and too average. "Elaine" and "World without a heart" for example would'nt I recommend to you.

As a unite this album is inferior to many other albums of this band. "The Flower Kings" has done many better constructions. This album lacks thoose wonderous tracks that lift the entire art to a rememberable unite. Now, this record will get three (weak) stars.

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#1179786)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2014 | Review Permalink

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