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Roine Stolt - The Flower King CD (album) cover

THE FLOWER KING

Roine Stolt

Symphonic Prog


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5 stars This is indeed the birth of the Flower Kings, but I would also say it is a refreshing rebirth of the progressive rock. Back in -94 when this album was released, there was nothing that sounded like this. The complex, varied and melodic songs, the incredible skills from the musicians and a an overall atmosphere that at least I had a suggestive touch to it. Not to mention the warmth of the sound, where arrangements offered nice mellotrons and a genuinely analouge feel. If you are at all into progressive rock, you should definitely check this album out.
Report this review (#28967)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars You may know Roine Stolt as the leader and guitar player of The Flower Kings, even though he has a rich and storied past in music since the 70's. You may be unaware that he filled important roles with other groups such as Kaipa and Fantasia. Stolt is another one of those legendary guitar maestros that started off playing the bass, which seems to be more common than not in the development of any artist that plays the six-string. His second solo album The Flower King was released in 1994 and was subsequently reissued on Inside Out America in 2001.

Stand out solo albums such as this will separate an artist from all of his contemporaries. Stolt is not only the consummate professional and leader of one of the most successful prog-rock bands in the world; he has the talent and vision to create music that is able to stand on its own merit without any reflection on previous collaborations or projects. That in and of itself is the most difficult thing to overcome when an individual has a vast repertoire to look back upon over a long period of time such as Stolt does. The format he follows with the albums sequence is classic prog-rock. He uses an intelligent combination of instrumentals and vocal tracks along with the expected multi-tiered prog- rock magnum opus as the meat of the recording. "Humanizzimo" runs over twenty minutes and breaks down into six parts. With help from his band mates from TFK he creates a steadfast and unyielding project from start to finish. Instrumental tracks such as "The Sounds of Violence" spotlight Stolt's innate ability to squeeze every ounce of resonance and beauty out of his guitar without uttering a word. Talented players like this man eliminate the need for vocals (even though he has a good voice). The beauty of his craft becomes personified in a note for note interpretation of feelings and a well spring of spontaneous emotions. He not only transcends all preconceived ideas of what the ideal guitar player and musician can be, he defines it.

It's time for the world to take it upon themselves to delve into the history and back catalog of music that Roine Stolt has given us to enjoy, only then will we completely understand his importance and the critical contributions that he has made in regards to the development of a continually evolving and blossoming musical genre. Sitting in the fan's seat for a moment as an enthused listener ... I would like to see him come up with the unexpected the next time he records a solo album. Something like a completely instrumental acoustic recording to show his diversity and ability to cross over to another style seamlessly would be appropriate, and a welcome change. I have no doubt that he can do anything he decides to do and the fan base of TFK will continue to grow and flourish because of his open ended approach to music.

Report this review (#28968)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent addition - not essential. But if you are studying THE FLOWER KINGS because their music produces you only what can produces the really good prog. well, this album is essential for you. The Beginning with 'The Flower King' is in the way of 'World of Adventures', and it's a good song, also like 'Dissonata' and 'The Magic Circus of Zeb'. But the best is still waiting. 'Close Your Eyes' leads to 'The Pilgrams Inn'. What a song! What a beautiful song. And then, 'The Sound of Violence' is kind of an epic keyboard solo. But with 'Humanizzimo' you have nothing more to say. The best of the album. It can be found also in live works from THE FLOWER KINGS. Well, finally, 'Scanning the Greenhouse' is just a happy ending, good for 'The Flower King'.
Report this review (#52144)
Posted Monday, October 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 4 1/2 stars

A solo album from the guitar virtuoso Roine Stolt set my expectations high, and when I listened to this album, The music exceeded my expectations and is my favourite Flower Kings album for now!. This is a guitar-driven prog album with a sound very similar to the Flower Kings. The album sounds much less influenced by 70s prog bands than the early Flower King studio albums. As a consequence, the music here is very fresh to one's ears. Also, because this is a solo album, you hear more guitars than usual. What surprises me is that Tomas Bodin is not in here and Roine plays all the keyboards himself!! The vocals are not abundant in this recording because Roine is such a gifted musician and arranger that he needs no vocals to portray emotions in his music. His vocals are solid, but not really necessary.

The album begins with The Flower King which alone defines what the band Flower Kings sounds like and what it is about. It sets the whole theme of the band. The music is happy, playful, and professionally done. The song begins with a guitar solo and a pop structure follows. The music on the background is beautiful and has guitar melodies as a counterpoint to Roine's cathcy vocals. The chorus is even better! "We believe in the light, we believe in love, every precious little thing. We believe you can still, Surrender! You can ... serve the Flower Kings" The lyrics are wonderful and the vocal melodies that sing this line are some of the best Roine has produced. The song itself has a similar structure to 'Back to the World of Adventures' and 'In the eyes of the world' in which they begin with a pop song, continue on an extended instrumental section full of soloing (the soloing here is some of the best and serves as a roller coaster of happy emotions), and ends with a reprise of the melodies of the pop side of the song. This song is majestic, and one of Roine's best.

That song, while it may be the strongest track of the album, is not everything The Flower King has to offer. All the remaining tracks are very strong in quality too. 'Dissonata' is a very strong song that begins with vocals and follows with guitar melodic playing. This song has a similar song structure to The Flower King. 'The Magic Circus of Zeb' is a wonderful symphonic instrumental full of guitars and a good keyboard solo in the middle. Some guitar solos are just too wonderful to my ears. Brilliant! 'Close Your Eyes' is a short relaxing tune with vocals and of course bluesy guitar playing. 'The Pilgrin's Inn' is another highlight of the album, being an instrumental full of melodic guitars and keyboards. Ths song goes through many different moods, sometimes beautiful, sometimes a little aggressive and sometimes dreamy. The Sound of Violence is a semi-heavy instrumental with excellent use of the guitars. Humanizzimo is the most challenging track of the album and is 20 minutes long, althrough it is not as hard to get into as songs like 'The truth will set you free' and 'Devil's playground'. The first 4 minutes are instantly likeable with that wonderful keyboard line and those easy vocal melodies. Then, it transforms into a accelerated section (my least favourite part of the song), later a short melodic one that sounds like the Flower Kings that is followed by a brilliant instrumental one. After the melodic vocals appear again, the big highlight of the album is next (even though it is much better played on the DVD). This highlight I am talking about is the powerful section with those vocal hooks ("This is the night") and the extraordinary beauty coming from the instruments (especially that church organ and saxophone). The song finishes strongly in a powerful climax with saxophone clashes and a guitar going berserk. Spectacular!!!! The album ends in the best way possible : a reprise of the most beautiful melodies from the title track.

1. The flower king (9.5/10) 2. Dissonata (8/10) 3. The magic circus of Zeb (8/10) 4. Close your eyes (7.5/10) 5. The Pilgrims Inn (8.5/10) 6. The sounds of violence (8/10) 7. Humanizzimo: (9.5/10) 8. Scanning the greenhouse (8/10)

This album should be owned by anyone interested in good music!! It is also the best way to begin the musical journey of the Flower Kings because it is the easiest to get into and because Roine is at his absolute best in here.

A masterpiece.

Grade : A-

Report this review (#52570)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Many people consider Stolt's The Flower King to be the first Flower Kings album. This is most likely because this album captures the essence of the Flower Kings sound. Also, core members of the Flower Kings are participants of this album, including Jaime Salazer and Hasse Bruniusson on drums, Ulf Wallander on sax, and Hasse Fröberg on vocals. But of course, the Flower Kings would take their name from the title of this album. But one important fact to remember is that Stolt is the only composer of this work and takes care of all guitar, bass, keyboard and lead vocal work. In a sense it feels partly like a solo album, and partly like a Flower Kings album. Think of it as a prototype or precursor.

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

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

Report this review (#55096)
Posted Monday, November 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A True Masterpiece!

"We believe in the light we believe in love, every precious little thing. We believe you can still surrender, you can serve the Flower King".

Well . where have I been man? How come I only knew the power of this album only couple of days ago? It's a pity because I have been collecting every album of The Flower Kings (the band) from "Back in The World of Adventures" until the last one "Adam and Eve" - and is now expecting "Paradox Hotel" and never pay any attention to this album? And now I realize that "the Flower King" album is truly the basis, the foundation, of what The Flower Kings (the band) music is going to sound like. I know exactly why I never pay any attention to this important album - because I never owned it, it happened that I borrowed the CD from my prog colleague and had no time to enjoy it. But when I purchased the CD couple of weeks ago .. oh I was amazed with the music even at the first time I spun the CD. It blew me away! It's a true a masterpiece prog album.

This album offers great music from opening track "The Flower King" until the last one "Scanning The Greenhouse" (which later became the title of The Flower Kings compilation album) with various styles combining jazz, rock and a bit of blues in its composition. Musically, it's nothing different at all with the music of The Flower Kings (the band). Roine Stolt is one of great and talented prog musicians.

The opening track "The Flower King" (10:28) is probably the most accessible piece of music this album offers because the music is quite straight forward with a blues based rhythm section. The power of this track is on its nice melody that makes the listeners emulate the segment especially during chorus line "We believe in the light we believe in love, every precious little thing. We believe you can still surrender, you can serve the Flower King". . Oh . what an excellent segment! Even though there is practically little variation in terms of tempo changes but this track is good enough to pump up our prog soul especially during stunning guitar solo. The intertwining Hammond sound played by Roine Stolt is also enjoyable.

"Dissonata" (9:57) is a logical continuation of the opening track where the song starts with nice soft keyboard work with Hackettian style guitar at the background. The music enters in relatively medium tempo where the excellent vocal line is accompanied with howling guitar wonderfully played by Roine Stolt. The music seems ambient during opening part but it moves smoothly into a symphonic prog composition with good combination of guitar and keyboard.

"The Magic Circus of Zeb" (7:05) is a track with faster tempo, led by the stunning guitar work combined with the work of xylophone. As the sleeve mentions there are only two musicians play this track: Hasse Bruniusson on TAMA Artstar Drumkit while Roine Stolt does the rest: Gibson ES175, Les Paul Goldtop & IBZ guitars, Shergold Bass and keyboards. It's an excellent instrumental track exploring guitar and keyboard.

"Close Your Eyes" (3:10) is a one man band where Roine Stolt plays all instruments and also sings. Through this track he seems to provide a sort of musical break because the track is mellow and slow in nature.

"The Pilgrims Inn" (9:11) kills me really! From its touchy opening - combining a very nice and smoothly played soprano sax, guitar and flute-like sounds which probably played through keyboard - this song brings me to the ultimate musical orgasm. Oh man .. The melody, the combined sounds of soprano sax and stunning guitar sounds have made me truly "stunned". No no no .. I'd rather use my local term here . nggeblak! Yeah man . my mind really paralyzed when I enjoy the beauty of all instruments played here. In a way the nuance of this song reminds me to "Starless and Bible Black" of King Crimson and the flute-like sound reminds me to the music of Sinkadus. Nothing similar musically but the nuance! (please don't get me wrong). The guitar solo augmented with soprano sax is killing me. The ending part of this track seems like "disjointed" from the original tagline melody. But the more I listen to this track, it grows on me and I accept the change of style started with acoustic guitar.

"The Sounds of Violence" (5:53) demonstrates how Roine can play great keyboards with Hammond sound. It reminds me to ELP but the style is truly The Flower Kings (band) style. I like the pulsating keyboard sound combined with guitar work. Not only that! The melody is really touchy! It's a great instrumental track.

"Humanizzimo" (20:55) is to me like Yes' "Close To The Edge" or "The Gates of Delirium". Not because of the duration of this track is very close with Yes' but it's more on the structure and style. The opening part with soprano sax combined with stunning guitar is really a thread for me. This is the kind of music that kills me! Especially when the vocal starts to enter the music "Midnight, you take me down to the waters. Slowdown, I've seen too much and too soon .". Oh my God . this is really good. As an epic with seven parts this track offers a blend of styles with many tempo changes from one part to another. All parts form the overall music cohesively. It's a great epic.

"Scanning the greenhouse" (3:32) concludes the album with memorable segment of "the flower king" put into the music, i.e. the part with "we believe in the light ..etc.".

Overall, it's highly recommended. For those of you who claim The Flower Kings (band) fans must have this album. I don't have any clue of not giving this album with a full five stars rating. Keep on proggin' .!

Peace on earth and mercy mild, GW

Report this review (#71464)
Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A fine disc to own if you are a fan of Ronnie and the Flower Kings. Although its a solo album, it has all the trappings of a Flower Kings album. It is heavy on Ronnie's guitar and light on keyboards, you won't miss it much because the arrangements are top-notch. The first song, 'The Flower King' has everything a Flower Kings fan would want; good singing by Ronnie and Hans, fiery guitar and catchy lyrics. Excellent all the way through! There are a few instrumentals and Camelesque songs, but my favorite is "The Sounds Of Violence". Its your typical Stolt song, but I really like the middle section, hyper and speeded up it makes up for the silly lyrics. The album does have one massive song, "Humanizzimo", alittle too long for my taste. It loses its way half through, but ends nicely; again a Camel-like song. The last song reprises the first bookending the album nicely. Overall a pleasant album that all Flower Kings fans should own. For all you others who may not own a disc by the group, this would be a nice start. Not as risky as some of the early albums and not as heavy as the later. Its a safe album: 3.5 stars rounded to 4.
Report this review (#71850)
Posted Monday, March 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After leaving Kaipa for a couple of unsuccessful projects, Roine Stolt returns with a solo album that would launch one of the greatest modern prog groups. Aptly titled The Flower King, it is everything you would expect, regardless of whether or not you already listen to The Flower Kings. Much of what The Flower Kings present is also presented here: great melodies, guitar solos, Ulf Wallander guest appearences on saxophone, Salazar and Brunisson on drums (though Salazar would assume full-time drum duties and Brunisson would be on percussion), and a couple appearances of Hans Froberg singing a few bars on the end pieces. Stolt plays the rest. As he is obviosuly not an expert with the keyboards or the bass, the guitars dominate the albums music. The bass and keys just provide what they must to complete the songs. It's nothing that warrants complaining though, considering this is a guitarist's solo album. And coming from that perspective, this album is incredible. Very rarely do such albums bear such value in compostion and emotion. Stolt is a brilliant songwriter, simply put. This album is well rounded and well written. Plenty of focus, and not just a bunch of cool riffs and solos thrown together as I would usually expect from a guitar album.

Every song is solid. Very solid. I can't pick out any top tracks, because they are all so good. There are three instrumental tracks: "The Magic Circus of Zeb," "The Pilgrims Inn" and "The Sounds of Violence." All of which feature great solos, and great music in general. Qualtiy from start to finish. The songs with vocals are made up of three giants: The Flower King, Dissonata (both at 10+ minutes) and the 21 minutes "Humanizzimo," a short mainly acoustic piece "Close Your Eyes" and the closer "Scanning the Greenhouse." As I said, all are great.

This album is really worth 4 1/2 stars. It's not a full-fledged Flower Kings album, and that's all that is keeping it from being a full five star album. The songwriting aid and keyboard work from Bodin was the start, but the later addition of Jonas Reingold on bass was "the icing on the cake." Still, it's extremely enjoyable, and very well written (especially considering it's a solo album). Stolt's guitar work is top notch as usual, and really, it's better than the first couple group efforts The Flower Kings put out. Why not own this? It's well worth your time and money.

Report this review (#82865)
Posted Wednesday, July 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I found this CD in a import store at a high price. At the time I had bought 3 The Flower Kings albums: Retropolis, Back In The World Of Adventures and Space Revolver. On the strengh of that amazing trio I decided to take my chances and buy The Flower King without hearing a single not. And When I got home and put the disc on I could not believe my luck! It was worth every penny (and then some!).

Many people label this CD as the first Flower Kings album and I agree with them. Not only the sound is very similar, but some key members of the band are already playing on it. The only notably absence is keyboards virtuoso Tomas Bodin, but you hardly miss him. My european CD issue is quite contraditory to who played what in this album. On the back cover Roine Stolt is credit only as guitarrist and singer, with future TFK producer Don Azzaro on bass and Dexter Frank jr. (another associate of the band) on keyboards, while in the boolet Stolt is credit as playing all instruments bar the drums and sax. Apparently, the latter configuration seems to be real one .

Well, whatever! The album is an absolute masterpiece! It is a little more guitar driven then the susequent group releases, but the sound is unmistakenly TFK. I was quite surprised how the instrumental tracks and the ones who have vocals on it work together without a flaw. Both his voice and guitar work is passionable and precise, the songwriting beautiful and original, the production is very good. Not a single filler or average song here. Only top notch tunes that would stand out in any TFK classic album. The Flower King is not only the starting point of one of the most important modern prog bands but also a classic prog album of the 90's on its own.

Conclusion: a must have for any Flower Kings fan. Highly recommended not only to any prog lover but to anyone who enjoys general good music. One of my all time favorite albums.

Report this review (#105133)
Posted Monday, January 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars And so the Flower Kings legend begins, being this the prologue for the extraordinary career that these great swedish musicians have developed over the last decade and beyond, with the guide of the amazing Roine Stolt.

To my ears, if I consider this album as part of The Flower Kings' discography (which many do), then I could proclaim it the most solid effort of them all. There would be gorgeous musical achievements in the Kings' music over so many (and so lenghty) albums, but I think this is the closest to a flawless album they've made.

The album's opener has already become a sort of hymn, and deservedly so, as the chanting of "we can serve the flower king" now stands far beyond than a simple song chorus, it's more like the beginning of a modern legend in prog. Great upbeat song. Then comes a tremendous song, "Dissonata", which works wonderfully where it's been placed: after the happy melody of the first track you get hit with this strange 5/8 with excellent chord changes and an unforgettable instrumental break. Once these 10+ minutes first two songs are over we find the first of a trio of instrumental songs: "The Magic Circus of Zeb," "The Pilgrims Inn" and "The Sounds of Violence". The first one more in the vein of the album opener in its upbeatness, the second somehow quieter, and the last one with a nervous pace that cracks with energy. Great stuff. In the midst of it there's the one that I consider the least interesting song from the album, the short ballad "Close Your Eyes". Nothing wrong with itself, but it kinda gets lost among the other musical giants. And speaking of giants, "Hummanizzimo" is one of the best 20+ minutes songs I've had the chance to enjoy. Everything a prog lover dreams of is there, in a combination of surprise (when the second part of the song kicked in, I was like "what the hell????" with a smile on my face) and coherence. Finally, "Scanning the Greenhouse" brings back the FK anthem of the first song, closing the experience in the positive way it had started.

Amazing album. Absolutely essential.

Report this review (#111849)
Posted Monday, February 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, I can't believe I haven't reviewed this album yet, so I better get to it :-)

Personally, I consider this to be the first Flower Kings album, even though it really is and was a Stolt solo album. It only features 3 other future Flower Kings members, Jaime Salazar would be the drummer of that band until 2001, Hasse Brunisson who will play percussion on every album so far (though he plays drums here and plays the kit on a couple songs on the early FK albums) and Hans Fröberg who wouldn't actually be an official member of TFK until Stardust We Are (he only sings backing vocals on two songs here). Also, we have Ulf Wallander guesting on sax on a few numbers, a roll he would take on most of the future Flower Kings albums but never actually be an official member of the band. My copy of the CD (from the original Foxtrot records, Roine's own personal label before going with Inside Out in 2000 or so), doesn't list Dexter Frank Jr. or Don Azzaro, but these are just pseudonyms for Roine anyway. He used these names on his early albums because he thought his real name showed up to much as it was and because he thought it was humorous.

Anyway, how is the music? Well, for the most part, quite good. The thing that struck me is how interesting the guitar playing is, coming across like Vai and Satriani, but not quite reaching their level of sophistication (which is not a bad thing, as Roine has far more "soul" and "feeling" than those two). It is some of Roine's most "guitar hero" style playing and I've never heard him really do anything similar since. It's not surprising though, as this was a solo album and the guitar is more prominent than on TFK albums for that reason. Roine's keyboard playing is good, though nothing outstanding, but I think he really only intended it to fill out the prog sound that this album was meant to have. His bass playing is very good, and it would come to light in later years that before Jonas Reingold joined the band, Roine actually did the majority of the bass playing on the FK albums, with brother Michael being primarily a live bass player for the band. Roine's singing is good as always, but here he sometimes goes into higher registers, something that he stopped doing around Retropolis. I think here it works pretty well, especially on the epic Humanizzimo.

I must admit, I'm not really a fan of the title song, which is odd because I love the Flower Kings music so much. But their namesake song, The Flower King, has a chorus that I just can't stand. It sounds like contemporary Christian pop music or something, sickenly sweet, annoyingly catchy (in a bad way), and with lyrics that make me cringe. Still, the instrumental middle section is quite good and serves as a statement of intent of what the rest of the album will hold.

Dissonata is probably my favorite song on here, with it's heavy prog style and almost King Crimson like guitar lines and time signatures. It features a very Vai-esque guitar solo, one of Roine's best. Great song.

Magic Circus and Pilgrims Inn are fantastic instrumentals, the former featuring Roine's great soloing, the second featuring sublime sax playing by Wallander. Close Your Eyes is a gentle, if a bit bland, ballad featuring only Roine playing everything. A pleasant enough song, though not particularly great. The Sounds Of Violence is a driving instrumental that would take on a much heavier sound in future live versions (see Alive On Planet Earth for evidence of this). Probably the least effective instrumental on here, but still quite good.

Humanizzimo is the albums epic. It is not my favorite of Roine's epics, but it is still a good one. It flows quite well, with interesting themes and sections, with only The Messenger seeming somewhat disjointed and out of place. But otherwise, a very effective piece with more great guitar playing and some very good and highly emotional singing by Roine. The album ends with Scanning The Greenhouse, a sort of coda to the album in the vein of Los Endos, that runs through several of the main themes of the album but unfortunately (for me, anyway) ends with the chorus from the title track.

All in all, a very good album and a solid 4 stars. It is pretty varied and interesting for a solo album, and certainly acts as a good taster for the FK releases to come. FK fans, this is a must have. Everyone else, this may be a good place to start with FK and Roine Stolt, and may even appeal to people who are not crazy about the FK's usual excesses.

Report this review (#124841)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
laplace
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Mr. Stolt's vision of a world unified in happiness is one I do not share. Call me a bitter, dysfunctional old cynic. Followers of his work in Kaipa, his personal albums, the woeful Transatlantic and the eventual Flower Kings ensemble that grew logically from this album may regard the sum of his output as "uplifting" and I'd agree, so long as we all realise that the term is synonymous with "Disney-fied" - a much more accurate way to describe his music.

What we have here is a collection of hyper-extended, sophisticated pop/AOR songs, replete with stadium production, vaguely Americanized singing (although I know the man hails from Sweden) and hooks a-plenty. Of course, it's all run through a Banksian(TM) obfuscator and left packaged and layered with multiple solos, classic organ patches and technoflash time signatures, but, without wishing to further disparage Roine Stolt's musical approach, I can only consider his output progressive insofar as it greatly improves upon dreck like Styx, Toto and elevator muzak the world over. The debut track has a particularly regrettable and radio-friendly chorus, repellent enough to the likes of me that I almost failed to perservere.

"Dissonata" disappointed me even more because of inherent false advertising. Believe it or not, switching from one major-minor seventh to another does not make you sound like Univers Zero, and modifying the riff from "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, part II" does not make you as innovative as the Crimson King. Call me a stickler for accuracy. I do give Mr. Stolt credit here - and his second star, the first being for undeniable musicianship - for trying something outside of major cadences but I can't celebrate the song.

From there on we have lots more mid-tempo rainy rock station sop-balladry. Defend it how you will, but "The Flower King" should really be 35 minutes long and be composed of eight glittering, world-changing pop-rock songs. I'd be much happier if it was, because what I'm reviewing right now is akin to a set of short, narrow pillowcases stuffed full of feathers - mostly of the dodo variety - in an effort to make ... well, I can't work out how to finish this analogy; should I go for "a hovercraft" or "linen foie gras"? This is getting silly and I apologise unreservedly.

All you really need to read of this review is this paragraph: if you like predictable, incredibly soppy and patronising balladry then you should buy "The Flower King" and play it to your collection of carebear plushtoys until they can croon it back to you, word for agonizing word.

Report this review (#137140)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album by Roine and his companions is a funny one because it's somewhere in between a solo-album and a TFK-album. This is a.o. proven by the fact that Humanizzimo, the great epic of this album is played quite a few times on TFK live albums or DVD's. On the other hand, the line up of musicians on this album is not exactly the later Flower Kings line up. So it's not really TFK. But many people regard this as the forerunner for TFK who produced their first album a year after this one. I already mentioned the classic Humanizzimo, one of the best songs Roine has ever produced, but there is more. My personal favourite is Dissonata, to me the ultimate proof that Roine Stolt is at least one of the best guitarplayers ever. What a performance his displays on this song !! The third top song to me is Magic Circus of Zeb, another one with fantastic guitarriffs. The title track and opener of this album is ok too but I don't really like the chorus to be honest.

But the standard of at least 3 top quality songs is easily reached here and to me at absolutely deserves the 5 stars.

Report this review (#140820)
Posted Friday, September 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After reading Chicpah's enthusiastic review of the latest THE FLOWER KINGS album "The Sum Of No Evil" I figured it was about time I reviewed their records. I decided to start here where it all began.This is not an official THE FLOWER KINGS album, but given it's title, and the fact everyone playing on it would become members of the FLOWER KINGS I felt this was the place to start. Even the final track "Scanning The Greenhouse" would become the title of THE FLOWER KINGS compilation record. I have already (some time ago) reviewed two of their double albums "Stardust We Are" and "Flower Power". I have to say the guitar playing of Mr.Stolt impressed me greatly on this one. I also like the thoughts he shared in the liner notes as to what he was in his thinking when he recorded this record. "I wanted to come out as an alternative to the flood of destructive, dark 'n evil-hardcore-death-thrash-speed-black n' suicidal metal music of today. So I created "The Flower King" - Prophet, Healer, Hippie, Joker, Spacetraveller,The Great Gardener and possibly...son of God." R.S. 1994.

"The Flower King" opens with some tasteful guitar.This is simply a feel good song with positive lyrics and a sing along chorus. I like Roine's unique sounding vocals, but having Hasse Froberg singing lead during the chorus was a wise move. The guitar just soars beautifully on this one,as well Roine fires off some raw solos as well.There is a GENESIS feel to the keys as we get about 5 1/2 minutes of pure instrumental work before the vocals return before 9 minutes. "Dissonata" reminds me of THE TANGENT, with Salazar (who plays with them) on drums.This is more of a serious tune with Stolt doing his Fripp impression at times. After 6 minutes Roine sounds just like Vai.Then 7 minutes in we get some latter day KING CRIMSON heaviness. Ok maybe not quite that heavy, but it does sound like them. "The Magic Circus Of Jeb" is an instrumental. Other then the drums this is all Stolt who plays guitar, bass and keys. He's so fluid on the guitar, and 4 1/2 minutes in he goes on and on. Nice. "Close Your Eyes" is a mellow tune with tasteful guitar throughout.

"The Pilgrims Inn (Part 1&2)" is my favourite song on here. An instrumental that recalls CAMEL. It's simply gorgeous with sax and what sounds like flute.The guitar starts to slowly break my heart. At 6 minutes the flute-like sounds and guitar join together to end part 1 of this track beautifully. The last 2 minutes (Part 2) is different with gentle acoustic guitar and flute-like sounds.The last 30 seconds is a soaring guitar solo. "The Sounds Of Violence" is another instrumental that opens with some uptempo keys and ripping guitar 2 minutes in. The drums are crisp and very active. The last 2 minutes are calm and reflective. "Humanizzimo" is an almost 21 minute epic. Hasse Bruniusson is back on the drums as he and Salazar share the duties on this record. Hasse played drums for both SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA and ZAMLA MAMMAZ MANNA previous to this.This long track has so many amazing moments. Very pastoral early with lots of smooth sax melodies before we get many twists, turns and mood changes. More angular guitar from Stolt. "Scanning The Greenhouse" opens with some scorching guitar melodies before the vocals arrive. Froberg adds some lead vocals to this one. Great sound ! The bass from Roine is prominant. The song ends with a reprise of "The Flower King".

I know some people feel that this is too sugary, that Roine is living in a dream world. And although I wouldn't want to listen to this all the time,"The Flower King" truly is a symphonic pleasure to listen to. Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#151674)
Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Its a strange situation cos its defenitely the predecessor of the upcoming Flower Kings's albums, and they are the musical ancestors if this one, so I should have listened to it with ears that never ever experienced their music before...that I simply could not. Why? Cos its the same as most of them. The question presents itself: what the hell were they doing in the last 15 years? Just repeating the same old story? The answer is unlickily yes in 85% of the cases.

Problem one: I can generally describe the music with the words like pointless, aimless, directionless solos combined with loosy and crappy song structures, songs without musical concept, good ideas used not enough and boring ones exploited to deadly lengths and each longer song gets after a while long and long and long and boring and boring and boring. If you try to play a bass guitar or a toy keyboard tuned to accord, you can just prepare similar solos. My 8-year-old niece definitely can! :-) The flute and the sax save the day where they are used at all...

Problem two: Besides the pointless solos RS er....borrows musical ideas from old prog monsters. Beginning riffs and keyboard background jumped here from Topographic Tales, in the second song copying riffs from Larks' Tongues, beginning of number 5 is Genesis, same song at 7:30 turns to Mike Oldfield's Ommadawn, which I could like so much, but the MO part is too shooort!, number 6 beginning with ELP keyboard solo, even the lyrics has foreign :-) references (in song 7 like Raven, Broadway, waiting room, Do they recall Lamb to you, too?). Actually I dont mind if someone borrows from others without explicit cross references, but RS creates a unique mish-mash out of them, that in the end he created his own sounding and style which then became The Flower Kings.

Problem three: the lyrics. Since Im a Christian I prefer positive and meaningful thoughts to dark and obscured ones, but the lyrical concept is a real disaster. Here we have the simpliest American window Christian sentences ("healing in a house where angels sing") mixed with the figure of the Flower King (who is he? God? or impersonation of some transcendent upper power? Its a kind of blasphemy...) and all of it in such a sloppy manner that really could provoke sickening reactions from me but Im luckily Hungarian so I need to concentrate on the lyrics to receive it into my mind, and if I dont its easier to go through the 70 minutes of positive thoughts.

Dont get me wrong, its not SUCH a bad album, it has its moments and there are fresh ideas and complex structures and excellent musicianship, but these would be enough for a decent 30-minute-long LP. 70% of the solos should be thrown away to avoid this American arena rock feeling and the lyrics could be substituted with some more intelligent, not so direct and a bit obscured story about the famous Flower King. This is only for the collectors. But keep up your courage! Much better FK's albums to come soon! :-)

Report this review (#163741)
Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Being a Flower Kings fan for some time now, I figured I was past due to pick up this album. I'm not typically a fan of solo albums, so I went into this album with some hesitation. After 1st listen, I knew that I had made a wise decision. Roine Stolt's The Flower King just about sums up every reason I love progressive rock music. The lyrics, the music, the feel is all about perfect. It is intelligent, mature, and may I say groovy? If you enjoy the Flower King's music, you must own this. Its probably not as good as your favorite Flower King album but it will be darn close. I place this album at around 4 1/2 stars.
Report this review (#164733)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I already knew that Roine Stolt is a helluva guitarist but until I heard this album I had no earthly idea how incredibly multi-faceted he is. I've collected quite a few of The Flower Kings' CDs over the last year and really like what Tomas Bodin contributes to that band on keyboards so when I read that he's nowhere to be found on this disc I had some trepidation about how it would sound in that department. Well, knock me over with a feather! I didn't miss him a bit. In fact, this recording is on a par with the best that Roine's subsequent group has ever created and that's saying quite a lot. And if you're a guitar player or even merely a fan of the instrument you owe it to yourself to indulge your senses in what I consider one of the finest displays of axe virtuosity I've ever witnessed. "The Flower King" is an inspired, well-thought-out presentation of work that never becomes predictable or devoid of feeling. I am amazed.

The album's namesake tune starts out simply but soon blossoms as it settles into a strong rock groove consisting of only Stolt and his gifted drummer Jaime Salazar, yet it comes off as cohesive as a tightly- knit combo of individuals that have been honing their craft together for years. Roine's thinly veiled homage to the Son of God is admirably amplified in the stirring, positive lyrics of the verses and the highly memorable chorus topped off by Hasse Froberg's distinct tenor. A fiery guitar riff opens the solo segment of the song and here you're treated to the first of many fantastic rides from Stolt that you'll encounter along the way. The tune travels through an exciting evolution that culminates in an awesome, suspense-filled passage that will make the hairs on your noggin bristle. Roine truly understands the overall concept of and how to carefully construct a symphonic progressive rock epic as he transports you to a towering climax that leaves you breathless. Wow and double wow.

"Dissonata" follows and it's far from being a let-down after that extravaganza. The number's tight and intense 5/4 time signature roars down the road with you in the sidecar as densely layered keyboards create a backdrop for Stolt's penetrating vocals. He speaks as one who has learned to be harmless as a dove but keen as a fox when dealing with the record industry fat cats when he sings "Smile when you face suspect, corrupt, degenerate merchants of melody" and "You can count me out from your silly games 'cause I'm not your stupid toy." The song includes another stellar guitar ride that doesn't overstay its welcome as it draws you into an extended melodic interlude that never gets boring for a nanosecond. The expert arrangement couldn't be better. What follows is "The Magic Circus of Zeb," an instrumental that not only introduces percussionist Hans Bruniusson as he takes a turn on the drumkit but treats you to a bright, upbeat melody line. When the song breaks down into a half-time section Roine delivers a gut-wrenching guitar solo that is so emotional that it literally brings tears to my eyes. (I was a guitarist for many years and I can tell you that this kind of fervent, heart-to-fingers playing is truly a rare talent that few are blessed with.) It is devastating and it exaggerates what distinguishes this mostly one-man show from most others of that ilk in that he allows spontaneity to thrive within his meticulously structured compositions.

After experiencing those three monster tunes, a calming change-of-pace is in order and Stolt delivers with a restful few minutes of serenity in "Close Your Eyes," a graceful love song that could be directed toward either his messiah or his lady love. "The Pilgrim's Inn (Part 1 & 2)" is another instrumental piece that starts off with smooth Mellotron flutes before politely ushering in Ulf Wallander on soprano sax, providing a new dimension to the proceedings. Part 1 sports a lively, jazzy atmosphere and more superb guitarisms from Roine's fluid fingers while Part 2 features gorgeous acoustic guitars leading to a crush of sound that swallows you up in the song's grandiose exit. "The Sounds of Violence" has a distinct ELP vibe about it with some respectable organ playing as Jamie Salazar returns to dazzle you with his stick work. As always, the song is melody-driven and the beautiful resolution at the end is a joy to behold.

The nearly 21-minute, 6 movement suite called "Humanizzimo" is the album's most ambitious undertaking and it succeeds often on many different levels. "Twilight Flower" opens things up with another dose of Mellotron flute, a tight rhythm track and Stolt issuing a subtle warning that you must be mindful to "hold on to your love/'cause suddenly it's all over." (Truer words were never sung.) "The Messenger" employs a somewhat annoying polka-like beat that's a little too brittle for me (it doesn't go on too long so no permanent harm results) as he relates that "deep down you know well/when you're doing wrong/you'd rather be a saint/but then temptation is too strong." Next comes "The Nail" which is big and enveloping in scope, is the most impressive demonstration of his skill on keyboards so far and contains the loftiest of spiritual sentiments you'll encounter. "Only Human" has an unmistakably Yes- ish, full12-string aura about it and the depth of field he builds is astounding. "Even if the spirit fly/and voices of arc angels passing by/we're puzzled by the speed of life." he sings. "This is the Night" starts out with a cavernous cathedral organ (Roine knows exactly how to tug at the strings of my prog heart) that interacts with Wallander's soprano sax in a stately dance. "The River of Love" features a deep bass resonance that rattles your bones as he wraps up this epic with a surprisingly quiet ending. It's not without some sand traps in the fairway but you've gotta give him props for attempting such a challenging endeavor.

"Scanning the Greenhouse" is a rockin,' no-holds-barred track that serves as a brilliant closer in that it encompasses all of the elements that make this such a majestic album. When the final note decays into the ether you're left with absolutely no doubt that Stolt is a master musician who truly "believes in the love" with all of his being. This whole project is a sincere statement of personal faith and belief that is astonishing in its open, honest approach and very appealing whether you acknowledge his religious views or not. What it definitely ain't is preachy.

No wonder Roine was able to ride upon the swift momentum created by this CD and proceed to form a permanent group called "The Flower Kings" that would go on to produce hours and hours of high-quality progressive music for a long time to come. I can think of no better way to introduce one's consciousness to his inventive and unique aural art than by way of this impressive album of songs. You'll be hard pressed to find better symphonic prog anywhere in the world.

Report this review (#169753)
Posted Saturday, May 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I will describe my love/hate relationship with Roine Stolt and the Flower Kings as if only.

If only this spectacularly expressive, creative, virtuosic, and thoroughly powerful guitarist didn't record albums which put that vomit taste in your mouth with spiritually trite lyrics and syrupy thick evangelization. Nothing ruins a soaring, two-minute Roine Stolt solo like the rest of the album.

Harsh, but I acknowledge that Roine and co. are some of the best instrumentalists around. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I like the purely instrumental passages of this album quite a bit. They have solid, bluesy grooves, Roine's guitar obviously taking center stage. Yet, I get headaches from grinding my teeth whenever he starts singing about the master plan, the message from the king of kings, or the blood of Jesus on the nail... come on!

I can take optimism in my music, and I can certainly take beauty... but The Flower King[s] is neither-- it's slop dredged from the bucket of Christian rock disguised as something progressive, then slapped against the ears until one finally breaks down and joins the Flower Kings bandwagon. Be forewarned! If you equate musical elegance and class as patronizing morality-- then Stolt's collective body of work is for you!

Me, I'll take brooding cynicism and forward thinking creativity any day over this sugary-sweet bombast. I am off the wagon and loving it!

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 1 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#174837)
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Flower King is actually a solo album from swedish prog rock legend Roine Stolt, but it´s regarded by most fans as being the first Flower Kings album as many of the musicians who would later be a part of that band plays on The Flower King. The songs from The Flower King is also a part of The Flower Kings repetoire when they play live an as such this is a Flower Kings album.

I know many people despise The Flower Kings and especially Roine Stolt for his retro approach to prog rock and his hippie christian outlook on the world and allthough the latter can also be a bit too much for me in some of the songs his seventies inspired prog rock is seldom heard more inspiring and competently played. The man is a genious in my eyes. All the best parts from seventies prog rock and hard rock is present in The Flower Kings music. Virtuosity, adventourism, hard rocking riffs and complex ( mostly very long) compositions are some of the features on The Flower Kings albums.

On this album The Flower Kings consist of Roine Stolt ( Kaipa, The Tangent, Transatlantic, Karmakanic) on Lead vocals, Guitar, Bass, keyboards and percussion, Hans Fröberg on vocals, Ulf Wallander on Soprano Saxophone, Hasse Brunisson ( Sammla Mammas Manna) on drums and percussion, Jaime Salazar on drums and percussion, Dexter Frank Jr. On keyboards and electronics and Don Azzaro on bass guitar and Moog Taurus. All musicians are outstanding and the combination of Roine Stolt and Hans Fröberg on vocals is really good. Roine´s voice reminds me of a mix of the talking singing style of Mark knopfler ( Dire Straits) and Ian Andersson ( Jethro Tull) while Hans voice reminds me of a more raw Jon Andersson ( Yes). Hans only sings on The Flower King and Scanning the Greenhouse but would contribute more and more to The Flower Kings music.

The album is almost 70 minutes long, so you´ll get something for your money and in this case quantity doesn´t mean that the quality isn´t high throughout the album. The quality is actually very high and the only song I don´t find excellent is the short semi-ballad Close your eyes and the closing song Scanning the Greenhouse. The rest of the album consists of great prog rock songs with lots of especially guitar soloing. Roine Stolt is a great guitarist. He has lots of the anarchistic ideas in his playing that Zappa also had and virtuosity which sometimes remind me of Steve Vai. His solos which are a big part of this album are generally very melodic and he obviously puts lots of emotion into the solos. the music on The Flower King is arranged as it is on every Flower Kings album so don´t expect too much improvisation. There are so many great songs on the album and I´ll mention a few things about some of them.

The first song which is called The Flower King is a classic in The Flower Kings repetoire. It´s the ultimate ode to Love and Happiness. The lyrics are a bit too cheesy for me but on the other hand it´s just such a nice positive song that I enjoy very much. My dark metal heart gets a bit soft. The rest of the songs are also truly magnificient and songs like Dissonata, The Magic Circus of Zeb, The Pilgrims Inn and The sounds of Violence are excellent and sometimes dark tracks which really shows the diversity in The Flower Kings music. Listen to the beginning of The Magic Circus of Zeb and tell me this doesn´t sound like Zappa. The song has lots of other influences too though and never ends in ripp-off. The 21 minute long epic Humanizzimo should also be mentioned. The start of Humanizzimo is one of my favorite moments in any Flower Kings song. It´s just so beautiful. The last song Scanning the greenhouse is a variation over the first song and it isn´t very interesting IMO.

The production is very good even though it´s not the best sound on a Flower Kings album.

I really like this album very much and even though I don´t feel it´s a complete masterpiece it´s really a high quality prog rock album. Roine Stolt took the world by storm with this one and he hasn´t looked back since. 4 stars is well deserved for this excellent album. My only complain is that sometimes the atmosphere is a bit too happy and just a bit too easy listening for me, but it depends on my mood wether or not I am bothered by this.

Report this review (#175315)
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars ”We believe in the light we believe in love, every precious little thing. We believe you can still surrender, you can serve the Flower King”.

I believe this is one of the classic statements of the prog rock scene. I also believe this is the statement of intention from Roine Stolt and the foundation of The Flower Kings. I originally thought this was the first album of the said band and I was unsuccessfully looking for this album under that name. Then I discovered it was the third solo album from Roine Stolt. Well, being a newbie in prog rock and not paying too much attention to details has it's tribulations. The album is now purchased and in my possession. Thankfully !

I am still not totally into the new wave of symphonic prog represented by THE FLOWER KINGS, SPOCK'S BEARD and other bands. I am more of a YES, GENESIS, VDGG, RUSH and FOCUS fan with both feet stucked in the 1970s. But I gladly admit that this album is a refreshing change and one I am very much into. I need to get the rest of THE FLOWER KINGS output. I only have one Live album at the moment. The rest is now on order from my prog supplier.

The songs...... The music is pretty symphonic with some good references to Fusion too. Symphonic, epic, majestic, melodic and jazzy. Those are the words I would use. The first two tracks are excellent. Dissonata has a good fusion feeling too. The following three tracks are good. The music is dominated by Roine Stolt's brilliant guitars. Very good guitar work throughout this album. The vocals are good too. Roine Stolt is not Bruce Dickinson or Robert Plant...... and he knows it. He therefore use his voice accordingly. I wish some other unnamed vocalists also could follow his example too.... The real outstanding track here is Humanizzimo. A long epic track which has everything a good symphonic prog epic should have. A lot of soul, technical brilliance, time shifts and majestic melody lines. LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN would nod approvingly to this track.

This is really an album down my alley and one I will enjoy for a long time. I am withdrawing 1 point due to the lack of a killer/signature track. Besides of that, this is one album I recommend.

4 stars.

Report this review (#201433)
Posted Monday, February 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars The Flower Kings first, or for a more accurate phrase, Roine Stolt's best solo album! This is a masterpiece of symphonic prog! The title track is to me the best in the album with it's hippie-like theme and catchy melodies. Dissonata is also pretty good the title sounds like a play on words to ELP's Tocatta but it sounds nothing like that. The Magic Circus of Zeb is an excellent instrumental and Close Your Eyes is a beautiful typical Flower Kings ballad. The Pilgrims Inn is an instrumental with hefty guitar parts by Roine which makes it stand out. Sounds of Violence seems a little un-needed at first but in the end you realize why it's there. Humanizzimo is the epic track. It reminds me of the Yes classic Gates of Delirium not so much because of the music but because of the tempo. It finishs with the Flower King reprise Scanning the Greenhouse which is just as good as the first. This is the album that started all of the Swedish bands excellent work and yes, it is a masterpiece!
Report this review (#212410)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars So we go back to 1994 and the Genius Roine Stolte's guitar sounds out the genesis of The Flower Kings......This CD has some exquisite guitar licks and basically the instrumentals are the the highlights. "The magic circus of Zeb" - marvellous guitar and Stolte also giving the keyboards a whirl to good effect. "The Pilgrims Inn" also show-cases some virtuoso guitar work and is an excellent instrumental effort. I also love "The sounds of violence" - sort of janty ELP stylee that is an instant hit with my ears. The one song with lyrics I love is "Dissonata", which has some yummy synth runs and Hackettesque guitar ghosting out and then POWER IN. The title track isn't the best but it's not as dissapointing as the Epic "Humanizzimo" which is definately a curates egg, nice bit of Church organ, but spoilt by the silly christian imagery. Now lets get things straight, Stolte should stick to his Hippy "Love & peace" message which always seems to accompany his music very well - Nothing wrong with Love and Peace - but why doesn't he mention the Flying Spaghetti Monster - which has been claimed (SIC) to touch its followers (PASTAFARIANS) with it's NOODLY APPENDAGES ?? Anyway - This is a four star jobby because of the FOUR excellent compositions. Peace.
Report this review (#236531)
Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Marvelous! I have been always very skeptical about the Flower Kings album and overlook this album for year. Now I tried and feel like kicking myself. Truly piece of Eargasm.

Roine Stolt is no doubt one of the greatest modern prog icons nowadays. This solo album a prove of his geniosity. With just one spin, I got hooked and never let this go for about a week. I'm still listening to it while writing this review. What a charismatic guitar sound on this album! And the vocal melody! And he played all keyboard and bass! Along with Steven WIlson, Neal Morse, Paul Masvidal, Devin Townsend and Daniel Gildenlöw, he is one of the most influential our modern prog world IMHO.

Taking about this album, this is a guitar oriented, melodic, beautiful and represent the brighter side of symphonic/prog rock interpretation. The interplay of keyboard and guitar is just sound too good. After you listen to it, the sky would be a little less cloudy and the world would be much more beautiful. 15 years has passed and it still sound absolute perfect. Best song writing, music, production and mixing. I cannot seen any weak spot in the album.

You don't want to miss this. Wholeheartedly 5 stars. Truly symphonic masterpiece.

Report this review (#249446)
Posted Monday, November 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars the album is an ABSOLUTE delight...if you like melodic technical and epic guitar than this album is for you!!!....i mean it still has a lot more than just guitar but the guitar is at the forefront usually, not always!!.....but anyways the is roine's first flower kings work and it changed progressive rock in a lot of way...his roots were in bands like yes, genesis, king crimson, and stuff like that....and now with this album prog rock was back in a whole new bright way...every track here, is touching, powerful, memorable melodic, virtuoso, and perfect, not a single moment wasted, although the less memorable tracks would be close your eyes and the sounds of violence...those may not appeal to all but i love them....the epic hummanizzimo is UNFORGETTABLE....so majestic in every way.............a lot more than just fancy guitar work in this one kids....it pure prog bliss from start to finish...this album changed me in a lot of ways and still does to this day
Report this review (#261331)
Posted Sunday, January 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I recently listened to this album for the first time for years, having subsequently followed the career of the Flower Kings. I had forgotten how good it is! We can hear TFK in embryo in most of the tracks, and in the mix of epic tracks with vocals and shorter instrumentals. The sound is a bit less polished than TFK, but it does not necessarily suffer for that. The opener, 'The Flower King is for me the highlight, with a memorable moment in the middle where the tempo speeds up and leads into an exhilirating guitar solo. There are meny beautiful peaceful moments in the instrumental tracks also. An excellent prog record in its own right, but of particular historical interest to TFK fans.
Report this review (#261558)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "You can serve the Flower King". I really love this album, it marks the beginning of The Flower King, with Roine Stolt on Lead Guitar and Vocals. It's very different from other material they made, the sound is very alive and beautiful. Unlike later work which sound a bit "Artificial" for my test. The Instrument track "The Sound of Violence" is great, with nice solos from Roine. the epic track "Humanizzimo" is a "typical" Flower Kings Epic, which we all love. Here you can hear the potential for their early great album. I think it's the best album to start with if you're a stranger to The Flower Kings. Recommended. and i bought it for only 5 bucks :]
Report this review (#378392)
Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Roine Stolt is one of the treasures of the prog rock world. And thanks to the Internet, he is finally getting some of the recognition he deserves.

This album, as should be obvious by it's title, was the prototype for the band The Flower Kings. The sound of The Flower Kings is here, as it should be, since TFK members Hans Fröberg (vocals), Hasse Brunisson and Jaime Salazar (both on drums) are all present on this album.

Stolt has a way of progressing his music, while also paying homage to the past heroes of prog. On The Flower King he seems to be channeling the spirit of Steve Howe in his guitar fills. Dissonata has a very obvious reference to King Crimson's Red. And I hear a bit of ELP in The Sounds Of Violence. All the while the pieces are not clones. They all have Stolt's unique vision driving them.

If you are a fan of classic styled prog, and especially if you like The Flower Kings, get this one.

Report this review (#463030)
Posted Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This record > The entire Flower Kings back catalogue...

The eponymous solo album that led to the formation of the band.

The Good: In the early 1990s Roine Stolt had a dream. Well, it was more of a vision. There was too much negativity and aggression in modern music and something needed to be done about it. Roine harnessed the power of the resurging symphonic prog wave, and unleashed this tree hugging, circle dancing, free loving beast. Whilst he had released solo albums in the past, they had all been rock and pop orientated and quite inferior to his previous work with Kaipa. In comparison the compositions found here are fantastic and showcase why he is one of my favourite guitarists. The soloing is tasteful and interesting, and the opening hook of the title track is just magical. He's also quite adept on the keyboards with some great work on The Sounds of Violence.

The Bad: Close Your Eyes, The Pilgrims Inn and Humanizzimo have their moments, but they're not quite as strong as the rest of the tracks.

The Verdict: I'd really, really love to give this five stars as it's one of my favourite albums, but I can't justify overlooking the brief 'lulls' in creativity.

Report this review (#472574)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being as behind on things as I have been over the years I didn't stumble upon the music of Roine' Stolt and The Flower Kings until I became aquainted with the internet. Finding them is one of the greatest of my discoveries in the past few years. I first heard this album when I was stationed in Afghanistan in 2009 and hearing it helped me out a whole bunch! Just like the best FK stuff this is a rich and exciting recording. The title track is a wonderful beginning and everything that follows is no less enjoyable. It must have been glorius for many other old-time prog heads to hear this in the middle of the 90's, a decade crammed with garbage pretending to be music. I'm glad I was able to catch up and with other epics like Space Revolver and Stardust We Are I can hear that the legacy of prog is in good hands! Thank you Roine'! You deserve a statue!
Report this review (#561499)
Posted Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Those who enjoy The Flower Kings ought not pass this sterling album with Roine Stolt at the helm. Excepting the distinct bass work from Jonas Reingold, this album has all the ingredients fans of The Flower Kings would love even though it predates their proper debut by a year. There's nothing more to say really- an excellent symphonic progressive rock album by one of the genre's most respected guitarists.

'The Flower King' Soothing lead guitar sweetly sings in before a sound breaks through that is distinctively The Flower Kings: And that refrain has to be the most definitive archetype for them- happy, uplifting, and even a little bit silly. Stolt demonstrates his proficiency with blues guitar, eventually stepping aside for a symphonic synthesizer solo. Overall, it is a wondrous piece of music and the crown of the album.

'Dissonata' A bit on the darker side of The Flower Kings, this second tune has a bit of cabaret camp that tries to masquerade as serious and sinister. The melodic theme and its variations in the middle passage are well-executed and a welcome evolution.

'The Magic Circus of Zeb' A mostly peppy and colorful instrumental, this piece evokes the spectacles of a circus without ever becoming hackneyed in the course of doing so. It features soulful guitar work.

'Close Your Eyes' The Flower Kings are, for me, notorious for filler tracks. This is one of those. It is a slow, plodding bit of new age with decent vocals and good guitar.

'The Pilgrims Inn' The musicians return to the uplifting sound from before but add some baroque flourishes. It is full of both electric and acoustic guitar exhibitions.

'The Sounds of Violence' As the title implies, this one hangs on the heavier and darker music Stolt and company are capable of. The last bit consists of bass and electric guitar soloing quietly around one another.

'Humanizzimo' The twenty-minute piece starts with the most subdued music on the album, consisting of Mellotron flute. About a quarter of the way through, the music becomes a tad too giddy for my liking. My take on this is similar to my judgment of many epics from The Flower King (and there are many): Sonically pleasant but rarely engaging. I enjoy this song in parts, but as a whole it tries to accomplish too much.

'Scanning the Greenhouse' The final three minutes and forty-five seconds of this album offer some more guitar soloing before launching into a fine vocal passage that culminates in a reprisal of that elevating refrain from 'The Flower King.'

Report this review (#765584)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Though labeled as a Roine Stolt solo album, this should be considered the very first Flower Kings album. The album is missing the input of key members Tomis Bodin, who appeared on the next album, and Jonas Reingold, who joined the bad for Space Revolver. Roine, therefore, wrote all the material and played most of the instruments. Nevertheless, the album still sounds like early Flower Kings.

The Flower King is dominated by guitar, with the keyboards taking a more rhythmic role. The album is also mostly instrumental, with Roine doing most of the vocals. I think the thing I like most about this album is its flawless mixing of great melodies and tasteful extended (and rather jazzy) guitar jams. Like Hackett, Howe, and Gilmore, Roine Stolt definitely has his own style of guitar playing that is immediately recognizable, and has quickly become one of my favorites of the instrument. The album starts of with the eponymous 'The Flower King,' (10/10) which is practically an anthem for the subsequent band and their music. Positive, upbeat, melodic and guitar driven. It's the only song to feature Hasse on vocals besides the ending reprise. An amazing song and an appropriate first song for the Flower Kings.

'Dissonata' (10/10) is similar in length and style to the The Flower King. It starts with some dramatic Stolt vocals and develops into one of the best melodies/solos at around the four minute mark before ending similarly to how it began.

'The Magic Circus of Zeb' (10/10) is probably my favorite song of the album. It has some amazing melodies up until around the three minute mark where it features, in my opinion, Roine Stolt's best solo, which is filled with guitar distortion and in a Gilmour-esque style.

'Close Your Eyes' (6/10) is just a short little song with a nice atmosphere of guitars and vocals, but otherwise is rather uninteresting.

'The Pilgrims Inn' is a fantastic instrumental featuring great guitar work by Roine. The sax is also a prominent instrument here and will continue to be in albums to come.

'The Sounds of Violence' (10/10) is an crazy upbeat tune with some awesome melodies on both guitar and keyboard.

'Hummanizzimo' (10/10) is easily one of The Flower King's better epics, along with Stardust We Are and I Am the Sun. The song keeps hitting you with one melody after another, and when there isn't one, Roine's tasteful soloing keeps your interest.

The final track, 'Scanning the Greenhouse' (8/10) serves as a loose reprise for the first song.

Overall, this album is probably the best Flower Kings album (if you attribute it to them), and one of my favorite albums of all time. Luckily, Roine and company will continue to produce music similar in quality to this in their future albums.

10/10

Report this review (#784604)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Roine Stolt's The Flower King was, of course, the project that brought together the Flower Kings, and it's kind of the blueprint for every subsequent Flower Kings project - particularly when it comes to sappy, preachy lyrics, retro-prog repetitiousness, compositions outstaying their welcome, and a limited range of tricks and gimmicks milked to exhaustion.

In other words, if you find that the Flower Kings are not usually to your tastes, there's nothing here to prompt you to change your mind - and if you are a Flower Kings fan, you're likely to find this album a bit bland, since the various compositional additions and twists thrown in by the other members of the group don't really come to the fore this time due to its origins as a solo album.

Report this review (#985472)
Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very close to 5 Stars!

A very musical and passionate statement. This is the album that started it all for the Flower Kings (Stolt formed his touring band for this album using the players on it, his brother on bass, and Thomas Bodin on Keyboards, and christened them the Flower Kings for the tour, thus beginning a great musical legacy). Deciding it was time to record music he truly liked, and to communicate some of the ideas felt strongly about, Stolt wrote and produced this album on his own. It is always better when the artist has complete control over the music, and it really works here. This is a very musical album. While the strongest is the long epic "Humanizzimo" and some of the tunes in the middle ("Magic Circus of Zeb", "Pilgrims Inn", "Sounds of Violence") all the songs here are above par and they flow together very well. Probably the weakest is the title track, almost bordering on cheesy, but it is saved by the arrangement (while "Close Your Eyes" also borders on cheesy - this is the song I skip over). There are some excellent guitar solos on this album. Roine Stolt is a fantastic guitar player, and does not shy away from composing his songs around some great guitar work. He also shows himself to be an excellent multi-instrumentalist - he plays all the keys and bass on the album, leaving only the drums/percussion and saxes, and back-up vocals, to his guests. The return to the opening theme at the end ("Scanning the Greenhouse") ties everything together nicely and provides an exceptional and emotional closer to the album. Overall, a very satisfying musical experience. I give this 8.9 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just 0.1 shy of 5 stars (and so, 4 PA stars).

Report this review (#1703394)
Posted Saturday, March 18, 2017 | Review Permalink

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