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The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog

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The Flower Kings Desolation Rose album cover
3.95 | 670 ratings | 26 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tower ONE (13:39)
2. Sleeping Bones (4:16)
3. Desolation Road (4:00)
4. White Tuxedos (6:30)
5. The Resurrected Judas (8:24)
6. Silent Masses (6:17)
7. Last Carnivore (4:22)
8. Dark Fascist Skies (6:05)
9. Blood of Eden (3:12)
10. Silent Graveyards (2:52)

Total Time 59:37

Bonus disc from 2013 SE:
1. Runaway Train (4:40)
2. Interstellar Visitations (8:23)
3. Lazy Monkey (2:23)
4. Psalm 2013 (2:08)
5. The Wailing Wall (3:18)
6. Badbeats (5:22)
7. Burning Spears (3:13)
8. The Final Era (2:57) *

Total Time 32:24

* Not on LP edition

Line-up / Musicians

- Hasse Fröberg / vocals, guitar
- Roine Stolt / electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, vocals, producer
- Tomas Bodin / grand piano, keyboards, Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, Minimoog
- Jonas Reingold / basses, vocals
- Felix Lehrmann / drums, percussion

- Michael Stolt / chorus vocals (10)
- Declan Burke / chorus vocals (10)
- Nad Sylvan / chorus vocals (10)
- Andy Tillison / chorus vocals (10)
- Edgel Groves, Sr. / chorus vocals (10)
- Edgel Groves, Jr. / chorus vocals (10)
- Daniel Gordon / chorus vocals (10)

Releases information

Artwork: Silas Toball

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 393 (2013, Europe)
2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLTDCD 393 (2013, Europe) Bonus CD with 8 original tracks
2LP + 2CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMLP 393 (2013, Europe) Full album in two-disc version, on both media (LP lacks one *track)

Thanks to Second Life Syndrome for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy THE FLOWER KINGS Desolation Rose Music

THE FLOWER KINGS Desolation Rose ratings distribution

(670 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

THE FLOWER KINGS Desolation Rose reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Second Life Syndrome
5 stars Swedish prog rockers The Flower Kings are at it again! This group has been together since the early 90s, but they have recently come soaring back into the prog scene. Last year, they released the critically acclaimed "Banks of Eden", but have decided to release another album in just a one year span. This might be worrisome to fans of the band, but The Flower Kings have delivered once again, both musically and conceptually.

The Flower Kings like to call their music "symphonic rock". This is appropriate, as there are loads of influences present, from classic music to 70s metal. However, their sound is surprisingly unique. They tend to have really cinematic melodies that are supplemented by riveting drums and gritty vocals. The result sounds somewhat vintage, but strangely new, too. Indeed, I find the band to be breath of fresh air, even in this masterpiece-laden 2013. "Desolation Rose", then, is different than anything else released this year. The band opted to use several vintage keyboards and amps to record the music, so that the feeling is certainly nostalgic. Yet, the music sounds modern, energetic, and focused. The band opens this album with the epic "Tower One", thirteen minutes of skillfully crafted prog rock that really set the expectations high. But, then they take some different paths, with gorgeous ballads (Silent Graveyards), groovy tunes (Sleeping Bones), and even some rather vulgar, but on point tracks (White Tuxedos).

However, there are three specific observations I have about this album. First of all, the album is very connected and whole. We hear some of the same lyrics and melodies a few times through the album. Some might call this lazy, but I say that it is a mature approach to creating a cinematic piece. The Flower Kings have a point they want to make, and they make it, but also provide summaries along the way. Secondly, this album has a very ominous feeling to it overall. Especially on "White Tuxedos" and "Dark Fascist Skies" (obviously), the music is dark, dreary, and weary, but mysteriously energetic and nostalgically groovy. I think much of that has to do with Roine Stolt's vocals, as they are gritty, raw, and varied. They do sound vintage at points, or sometimes they are heavily distorted. Third, both the connected and ominous feelings are there for a reason, as the album has a defined concept. According to their press kit, the concept revolves around an angel in a tower that is looking down on the desperate state of man and the mess they've made. It specifically focuses on the people that have caused the mess with their greed, power, and evil hearts. In the end, this comes off as a pointed social commentary with which I happen to identify and agree.

Now, all of this wouldn't matter a bit if the album weren't performed well. Stolt's vocals are great, though he is a bit limited in the higher ranges. However, he is well complemented by the fantastic rocking drums that are full of super fills and great hooks. The guitars are dramatic and almost sing like harps at times, a testament to the skills here. The plethora of vintage keys in play are also a welcome sound, as we get Hammond organs, but also synth. It's a great mix that provides lots of variety. Lastly, I must comment on the bass guitar. I am getting so excited about the level of skill bassists are showing nowadays. Gone are the days of inaudible, simplistic bass lines. The bass on this album has been added to my list of amazing bass performances of 2013, and may even top it. The bass is pulsating, always driving the music to greater heights, climatic moments, and sweeping and powerful transitions. I can't even imagine the finger work involved here.

The Flower Kings have indeed scored again this year. Two albums released within a year of each other, but the music is still incredible. I personally find this release more focused, more collaborative, and more sensitive to subtlety and deftness. It's incredibly heavy mood- wise, but will certainly win over the prog rock crowd with its instrumental fireworks.

Review by GruvanDahlman
5 stars (This is an edited review, given the fact that I was a bit too quick to deliver my judgement.)

I have never cared much about Kaipa, to be frank. I guess I found them sort of dull, really. Then again I cannot say how I would feel about them nowadays. On the other hand, this feeling has been haunting me when it comes to The Flower Kings. I have been following their latest releases, reading about the albums, yet never hearing a single note. I have been hesitant, to say the least.

Then I stumbled across this, their new album, in a record shop and bought it on a wim. "Get over it and give it a go", someone told me. Must have been my friendly muse of music. It felt so right and I was not to be disappointed.

And now, after that wee introduction, I must apologize. What for? I will tell you. I apologize for not giving the album enough time to deliver a proper and just review. I hastened my review, so now I am going back to correct my mistake. Giving this album a mere four stars, which obviously is good at any rate, does not hold up to scrutiny.

The first track, "Tower One", is one of those timeless Epics capable of surviving the future intact, without losing any of it's powers. I really love it. The track has a retro feeling to it, yet it feels contemporary and urgent, in some ways. I am not much for pointing ut certain sections of tracks by way of leaving exact time for it but I feel I must for once do so. 9.30 minutes into the track there is a very powerful section, which gets it's power from the very variation it is surrounded by. This particular section always gives me the shivers. I love it. It is genius. I could describe it as a hard rock section, with angry attitude and a power that could make bones turn to dust. It is great. The track as a whole is not only one of this centurys best tracks, it could well match any song frĺm the past 40 years, when it comes to prog. I do believe it is that good and I cannot stop speaking of it's glory, so I think I'll just stop there.

The concept of the album revolves around a grim present and an even grimmer future, lest we behave and change our ways. "Dark fascist skies" is very much to the point, with nationalist emotions of right wing character seems to flourish. Yet again, one might say. The way the album goes through emotions is amazing. It balances perfectly between hard rock, prog, beauty, ballads, emotions and ugliness in such an effortless way. Every track is fabolous and enthralling, which on it's own is a rare thing.

What I find so intriguing about this album is the sense of progressive rock's ability to build symphonies with recurring themes and an overall feeling of being cohesive. You listen to, what seems like, one track with all these different themes. It never gets boring. On the contrary. I could listen to this album forever, it seems. The sound is symphonic, heavy and at times distorted. All this seems very apt, considering the theme of the album. It may seem heavy handed and depressing but it isn't. It is engaging and uplifitng even. The instrumentation is superb, so are the vocals. Everything falls perfectly in place and is flawless but never flat and lifeless. It is vibrant and majestic. Genius and engaging. Brilliant is not an enough word to fully describe the album. It is beyond that. Actually I think this is one of the best prog albums made. Ever. It is that good.

My hesitant attitude towards The Flower Kings is washed away. I bow before you and will investigate further. This is magnificent, extraordinary and blissful music.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A very emotional album ...

When I looked at the album promo way before it was released I was a bit disappointed with the track list as there was no track with duration of more than 20 minutes which had been the band's tradition to write epic. With that thing in mind I did not expect much about this album as I was very satisfied with its previous album under "Banks of Eden" that I thought would be the best release from the Flower Kings. Yes, I was really amazed with their privious album especially with its wonderfully crafted epic "Numbers" that opened the album nicely. And I thought after that album the band would diminish in terms of musical quality because I could not think any other album that can be as great as "Banks of Eden" that I truly admired by heart and emotioanlly has hooked me (it became my regular playlist for more than three months).

I was wrong! The first time I spun this new release "Desolation Rose" I could not believe how the band can really crafted beatiful notes that connect from one segment to another beautifully with their transition pieces wherever changes of style are occuring. Oh my God! I was stunned with the great vocal work at the opening of Tower One that sets the overall tone of the album wonderfully. I do admire this band really! From the experience listening to the album from minute zero to the end of the album I really enjoy every bit of the music that flows nicely without any intention to replay any particular track. Nope! It's not because of there is no such great track but as the music rolls my mind was wondering with challenging question of "what happen with the next track? Will it sound as great as this one? How will it sound?". Those kind of questions are pondering into my head in fact when I am writing this review - by the time i am wrting this sentence, the music is playing track 6 "Silent Massess". Of course for the sake of this review I will definitely have to replay from track one to validate what I am writing. But, the funny thing is that currently i do not want to do it as the music flows wonderfully since track one and I do not want or intend to stop it. Ket just the music flow and it flows wonderfully!

I do not know what kind og magnet the album has generated so that I do not want to replay any single track. The definite answer is very sure: all tracks produced here are really great! I am not sayiong that the individual track under prog guidelines is the best prog track of all time but it's basically all essence of prog music is here with whatever you call it: complexity, challenging lyrics, change of tempo, change of style, structural integrity, harmony - everything is here I can assure you. Frankly, I have been trying to force myselfe to identify any key tracks from this album and I fail to do so. I would say this album must be enjoyed in its entirety even though there are abundant of memorable and catchy melodies coming out from the spread of tracks presented here in this album. Bear with me....this album is not that ambitious as Banks of Eden but it is at par excellence. I assure you!

I am not sure that I am able to review on track by track basis as every single track is great and if I do it will bore you with a novel long review. For sure the opening travk Tower One is really a great opener and if you want to decide whether or not you continue with the journey of listening to this entire album, your test of likeness starts here at Tower One track. If you don't like it, just forget it and get another new release of other bands like Dream Theater or Haken or any other release. I am sure if you dislike the opening track of this album there is very little probability that you gonaa like the album. Just stop here at first track and close the book with The Flower Kings!

But ...

If you like Tower One, I can guarrantee that you will enjou every bits and pieces of this album from start to end. And welcome back my friends with the prog music produced by geniuses of prog band from Sweden that was born from the nineties and I am sure you enjoy the journey listening to this wonderfully crafted album. Having listened to Tower One with its excellent composition and catchy melody, here comes "Sleeping Bones" that spans only (4:16) duration but it maintains great energy and nuance as created by opening track. In some way you might consider this as a transition that bridges to the next track. But please ...enjoy the organ sound as well as soft music riffs in some segments of the track and connect them into your mind ....oh ... it's beautiful man! Of course there is change of style in the middle of the track that makes the song is truly a prog music. I almost delare that Desolation Road (4:00) is my favorite track but I immediately decline my statement. Why? Because all tracks contained here are really my favorite with no exception as far as the album is spun in its entirety! The reason I almost declare this third track as my favorite is bucause some segment melodies of this track has ever come into my mind while I was cycling go to my office as they are really catchy. I really like the nice combination of vocal, guitar and keyboard that form this track. Of course I also love the basslines by my favorite player Jonas Reingold! The ending part of this track is awesome with Tomas Bodin's organ work. Oh mannnn's really greaaaatttttt ....!!!

It flows almost seamlessly to the funny styke of music in "White Tuxedos" (6:30) with the kind of music that is quite simple, it reminds me to the new wave kind of music in some ways. But this is The Flower Kings man! It's really good having this style embedded into prog music like this album for a break. "The Resurrected Judas" (8:24) is another excellent composition and some people consider this one as key track coming out from the album. UIt then flows very nicely to "Silent Masses" (6:17) until the end of the album without any sense of boring siuation at all. In fact when it comes to track 8 "Dark Fascist Skies" (6:05) it confirms to me that the album overall is a masterpiece!

Overall ...this is a MASTERPIECE with FULL FIVE STAR with no exception at all. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Zitro
4 stars Their best album in a long time. About 4 1/3 stars.

Their post-hiatus album "Banks of Eden" in my opinion was no more than just a good progressive rock album. It sounded generic and by-the-numbers (no pun intended), as if the band were on auto-pilot, with some hints of their past magic showing up on their surprisingly coherent epic 'Numbers' and also on 'Pandemonium'.

This album is a bit of a departure for the band, but is not quite the shocking overhaul some reviewers and the band themselves make it out to be. Nevertheless, the subject matter is noticeably darker as the usually optimistic band seemed to give up and rant about current state of affairs and negative prospects of our future. Compositions are more song-driven than the looser, instrumentally stretched out songs of earlier. The songs are shorter yet most, particularly in the first half, are connected as if were one song. I find the first 5 tracks or so more unified and stronger, but the second half is far from disappointment and the bonus tracks are hardly disposable. In fact, the instrumentals 'Psalm', '

As aforementioned, the album has a very good start. 'Tower One' is probably the best long compositions by the band since 'Devil's Playground'. It is a very tight, varied, and coherent composition with impeccable dynamics, memorable melodies, exceptional musicianship, and a sense of adventure. The band shows so much life here and I can't help but be impressed by a recurrent theme/riff that never sounds completely alike: '6:50' '7:30' '9:00' and the ominous '10:10'. I love the series of notes in that riff, particularly how it's played along avant-garde notes. Best of all is how the parts are so memorable, yet work best in context. It makes the song (and the album) among the most accessible in their repertoire while giving you some surprises on first listen. I never saw that fiery hard rock detour coming around minute 9.

The coherence spans across a few tracks. 'Sleeping Bones' only continues the magnificent epic and it's a very powerful song due to its restraint and dense atmosphere. I particularly love the beautifully sparse yet tense instrumentation in the first minute before the riffs get in gear. And about those riffs, they sure make a lasting impression! The song segues into 'Desolation Road' which plays the main melody of the album. It is a very high-quality short track and essential to the disc. You could almost imagine this being played on the classic rock station if it was released in the 70s. It works great as a single and in context, the aggressive hammond organ solo introduces voice sampling of Richard Nixon. 'White Tuxedos' sounds angry and sarcastic, almost has a mocking tone in its choruses. I love the energy the band displays in the last few minutes of the song.

'The Resurrected Judas' is a lengthy, melodic, and simply magnificent composition. It is obvious why it's generally considered a highlight by reviewers as it has everything we like about the band: strong vocal and instrumental melodies, proficient multi-layering of instruments, and powerful instrumental segments. 'Silent Masses' criticizes complacency and is a bit less successful due to weaker verses. However, the denser sound following the second chorus is well executed and the rest of the song is of higher quality. 'Last Carnivore' is such a good song. It's groovy with excellent choruses and rocks so hard in its ending. 'Dark Fascist Skies', as its title suggests, is not a happy song. It features great singing, hard rock riffs, and Frank Zappa elements. My disappointment is the crushingly dense instrumentation I was expecting from such a title never came. Also, the song is disconnected from the previous tune, even more so than the disconnect between 'Silent Masses' and 'Last Carnivore'. 'Blood of Eden' is also disconnected, why would they do that? We could have had a series of interconnected songs not seen since 'Garden of Dreams'. Anyways, I love how the last two tracks play out. 'Blood of Eden' gives you a glimmer of hope, but then 'Silent Graveyards' crushes it as it brings us back to the grim reality and the band repeat a powerful mantra 'In Silent Graveyards We Look for Saviors'. It's a gutsy move by the band but I personally love it.

Most bonus tracks are at least good, and some of the instrumentals could have been inserted into the main series of songs. Runaway Train is a good rocker with Transatlantic and Beatles influences. 'Interstellar Variations' is a masterful instrumental that slowly grows in passion, with wailing guitars and aggressive hammond organs as the climax. 'Lazy Monkey' is actually a disposable one. 'Psalm 2013' is gorgeous ambient music that should have been included in the main series of song as an interlude. 'Wailing Wall' is similar to the style of 'Interstellar' as it slowly grows from mournful guitar and organ to a passionate climax. 'Bad Beats' is a multi-faced instrumental of high caliber, while 'Burning Spears' blends their guitar-instrumental style with the apocalyptic post-rock genre, with great results. It's a shame it wasn't incorporated into the main disc. 'The Final Era' works as a last song in a bonus album and it fits there as 'Silent Graveyards' is a great ending to the main CD. You can't have two endings.

5 star songs: Tower One, Psalm 2013, Burning Spears

4.5 star songs: Sleeping Bones, Desolation Road, White Tuxedos, The Resurrected Judas, Last Carnivore, Silent Graveyard, Interstellar Variations,

4 star songs: Silent Masses, Dark Fascist Skies, Blood of Eden, The Wailing Wall, Bad Beats, The Final Era

3.5 star songs: Runaway Train

2 star song: Lazy Monkey

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I was disappointed by The Flower Kings' "Banks Of Eden", the album preceding this one. While it was not bad, it felt like the band was coasting. But on this new release, it feels like the fire has been reignited under Roine Stolt and his most well known band.

While much of the album features Stolt's extremely well played symphonic stylings, the glimpses of darkness and humor that initially drew me to this group have returned. In particular, White Tuxedos and Dark Fascist Skies fall into this category. While I enjoy the pure symphonic pieces, Stolts frequent religious imagery in his lyrics, while not trite or proseletizing, often turns me away a bit.

My copy of this album is the special edition, which includes a bonus disk, presumably extra material from the recording sessions. Even on this disk there is not a weak song in the lot. Special mention must be made for Runaway Train, a high energy track that sounds like Stolt has been picking up some pointers from Transatlantic bandmate Neal Morse, and Interstellar Visitations, a Pink Floyd tinged piece that has some of the finest guitar work I've ever heard from Stolt.

It's nice to have The Flower Kings back.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I've been listening to The Flower Kings music since 2005 when I bought Adam & Eve (2004). Since then I've been following every release of the Swedish band. In 2008 they went on a hiatus after 14 uninterrupted years, so that every band member could focus on their own stuff. Roine Stolt (vocals and guitars) went away and recorded 3 albums with his new project Agents Of Mercy, Jonas Reingold (bass) released albums with his band Karmakanic and The Tangent, Tomas Bodin (keyboards) recorded solo and Hasse Fr'berg (vocals and guitars) formed a new band called Hasse Fr'berg & Musical Companion which released 2 albums. The five years pause the band had was absolutely essential for their musical wealth. Many other bands should have done the same in the last years.

When they returned they were fresh and even though their sound didn't change it was new in some way. Banks Of Eden (2012) was a welcomed return and was among the best albums released last year. Now, exactly after a year, the band returns with a new album called Desolation Rose (2013). I've got the special double edition to review from Radiant Records but I will focus only on the CD 1.

First thing I noticed was that, once again, the artwork was done by Silas Toball. Not just the cover but the whole package. Previously Roine himself was doing this job and he did some really ugly artwork for the band's booklets. I'm thankful he gave up on this.

Desolation Rose (2013) starts absolutely magnificent with the long 'Tower One'. This is TFK at its very best with so many details, twists and turns. Absolutely superb from beginning to end! Track 2 'Sleeping Bones' shows the results of the band writing together, which is unusual on their discography and it'll happen again on the album. The song could easily be recorded on Agents Of Mercy The Black Forest (2011). The title-track brings Hasse as the main voice and by now a nice surprise can be noticed: all the tracks are glued together as one piece. And that's exactly how 'White Tuxedos' comes, without warning and with weird machine kind of vocals. Good to see the 'new' drummer Feliz Lehrmann playing away as if he has been with the band since the beginning!

In 'The Resurrected Judas' we see a composition that once again belongs to all band members. This is a typical TFK ballad with some Jazzy moments towards the end of it. And it's always great when they end up using both Hasse and Roine's vocals in the same song. Next track 'Silent Masses' is Roine's Beatles influence speaking louder, including a quote from 'Hello Goodbye' from the fab four. 'Last Carnivore', on the other hand, shows us the band's heavier side. The initial riff is just great and the song follows with a 'spoken word' kind of vocals that Roine uses every now and then.

'Dark Fascist Skies' is the last track composed by the whole band and to reflect the lyrics we have a melody that is heavy and dense. Great final bit! 'Blood Of Eden' is a full ballad that quotes previous songs of the album with already established 'hippie way' of writing by Roine. The guy just wants peace, and who can blame him for trying with his music? To finish Desolation Rose (2013) we have 'Silent Graveyards', almost as a prayer with layers and layers of voices in an epic ending!

As I mentioned in the beginning, my CD version is the double one. Disc 2 includes 8 unreleased tracks in a bit more than 30 minutes, all tracks were recorded in the same sessions as the ones on the main disc. 'Runaway Train' is a powerful song that could have been on the disc 1. But when it comes to the next songs' the material isn't really worthy. Most of them are instrumental songs that were not good enough to be used on the main disc. The artwork of the double edition is stunning, but if you don't care about 'bonus' content, go for the single edition.

Desolation Rose (2013) is an absolutely superb album that puts the band where they should be anyway, on the top. If you're a fan you should have bought it already, if you're a newbie to the band and are looking for the best album to start' you should have bought it already. And finally, if you're a Progger that loves Symphonic kind of Prog' you should have bought it already!

A classic and easily on my top 10 of the year! Go for it without fear!

(Originally posted on

Review by kev rowland
5 stars Back in 1994 (wow, nearly 20 years!) I received a CD in the post by A Swedish musician called Roine Stolt. At the time I hadn't heard any Kaipa (since rectified) so I had no idea who he was, but the title track of that album was on my player repeatedly. He soon formed a band of the same name, and since then I have followed their career with interest. There was a time when in the prog world it seemed that they could do no wrong, but I got to the point where I no longer looked forward to new FK albums turning up as I felt that they had become self-indulgent and needed a lot of editing which they weren't receiving. For me the turning point was 'Adam and Eve', which was easily their best album for many a year, and I was lucky enough to catch them on tour with that album (it was also the first gig I ever took my youngest to, she was 8 and still has the t-shirt).

So, would this be a continuation of the wonderful work they have been undertaking recently, or a return back to the bad old days? The first clue is in the track listing, with just one lengthy number, and that is only 13 minutes, which is just getting warmed up for The Flower Kings. The whole album is under sixty minutes in length, and the last two numbers only just get to six minutes when joined together! But for me it works, it really works. This is symphonic prog with a purpose, gone are the meandering never ending solos and passages where the band had seemed to have lost their way, and instead we have progressive rock music that has a direction and clear intent yet has lost none of the power and impact. These guys are incredible musicians, with great vocals and harmonies, and now they have added into that mix some really powerful songs that work on all levels. I gave the last album five stars, and it has taken a lot of internal debate as to whether this is as good or should be marked slightly less. But the crunching riffs in "Dark Fascist Skies" really grabbed me, along with some great piano and lyrics. Yep, this is their second five star album in a year. Et's hope they keep it up.

Review by J-Man
4 stars Released only a year after their triumphant comeback album Banks of Eden, 2013's Desolation Rose once again showcases The Flower Kings' distinct brand of progressive rock in full force. By these Swedes' standards, Desolation Rose is a fairly short album (clocking in at less than an hour without the bonus disc), but it still manages to deliver everything that we've come to expect from The Flower Kings. Although this can act as a double-edged sword (personally, I think it'd be interesting to hear Roine and company tinker with their sound a little bit more at this stage in the game), Desolation Rose is still a mightily strong observation that demonstrates why The Flower Kings are so highly regarded by progressive rock fans.

With its longest song at 'only' thirteen minutes, Desolation Rose places a stronger emphasis on short compositions than many of the band's other records, but from a stylistic standpoint, not much has changed. The band's quirky, and even heavy at times, approach to symphonic prog sounds like the result of Frank Zappa and Ritchie Blackmore recording an album with Yes, and if that sounds appealing to you, Desolation Rose will be a blast to listen to. Tracks like "Tower One" and "Desolation Road" stand out as highlights to my ears, and the bonus CD also contains a few great tracks like "Runaway Train" and the beautiful instrumental "Burning Spears".

As one would expect from The Flower Kings, the musicianship and production are both stunning on Desolation Rose, and although it doesn't quite do enough to stand out as one of the band's most noteworthy albums, the quality is high enough to warrant a strong recommendation. It's great to hear one of the best Swedish prog bands regularly releasing albums once again!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I am always willing to give new TFK releases a chance cuz I always have hope that these talented and dedicated musicians will finally hit gold. However, my relationship with TFK, historically, has been one of annoyance and disappointment. There have been moments-- even whole songs--of brilliance and total engagement for me, don't get me wrong, but, on the whole, TFK has yet to win me over. Desolation Rose harbors most of the same aggravations and disappointments for me: irritating vocals, awkward word/phrase choices in lyrics, cheezy, stolen, "cut-and-paste" riffs from all instruments as all songs are laid upon a foundation of simplistic formulae and sounds. While I appreciate the message being conveyed here--the recognition of the historical events, trends and persons contributing to Earth/humanity's current problems--it's almost too old and too late. I'd rather have ULVER's gloomy acceptance and more advanced grieving than this soulless anger. While I do admire the musical talents that make up TFK, I think they need to leave the comforts of their neo-prog glorification of past masters and do something different. A rock opera (like Motorpsycho--though "Silent Graveyards" is a start!) or an album with their music performed by or with classical instruments or a chamber orchestra (Anathema, Kotebel, Five- Storey Ensemble) or an all acoustic RIO/Avant album (Aranis, Univers Zero, Yugen) or a folk or medieval album (The Amazing, Fauns) or an album in which they all trade their instruments with each other during composition stage (Talking Heads Remain in Light) or an electro-pop/house album (Everything But The Girl, Massive Attack, Bark Psychosis) just something to get them out of this stale box of monotonous predictability.

Contrary to most other reviews of Desolation Rose that I've read, I like the long song here, "Tower One" (13:37) (9/10), best and I do not find myself enjoying any of the 'shorts' very much. This was the opposite of my reaction to TFK's last album in which I loved all the shorts and found myself quite annoyed by the 25-minute epic, "Numbers." As a matter of fact, "Tower One" is the only song on Desolation Rose that even comes close to earning a five star rating from me.

A 3.5 star album rated down for the inclusion of the second disc of 'demo' songs. (They should've saved those to work on one or more of my above suggested 'directional change' albums.)

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Following the masterful "Banks of Eden" was never going to be an easy task but somehow The Flower Kings pull off yet another well produced album chock full of melodic prog with exceptional musicianship. "Desolation Rose" flies by with one catchy song after another and no epics to speak of this time round, though the lengthy 'Tower ONE' is almost 14 minutes and has many twists and turns within, like ascending the tower itself.

The tracks that made me really sit up and take notice are the brilliant riff heavy 'Dark Fascist Skies' with its incredible infectious hook and wonderful dark texture. The band really take off when allowed to explore genres in the instrumental sections. Shimmering Hammond and soaring lead guitar are the sections to revel in such as on the opening track, 'The Resurrected Judas' and 'Sleeping Bones'. The guitar riff on this track is similar to sounds heard on other TFK albums but that familiar feel is welcome. 'White Tuxedos' is more experimental with a deep resonating voice over and some odd time sigs; a genuine curio and surprisingly off the wall on this album.

I prefer the heavy side of the band, though they can perform dreamy ballads very well such as 'Blood of Eden' a type of sequel to 'Banks of Eden' in a sense. 'Silent Graveyards' is quite silent in the opening section, and not as morbid as one might expect. I really like the way it builds with its repeated mantra and the hope that it instills with upbeat keyboards.

The second CD is a wonderful addition to the album proper with its own share of excellence. The Yes like 'Runaway Train' is a great start with rollicking time sig changes and a tremendous guitar lick. 'Interstellar Visitations' is back to more lengthy prog at 8:23, with a ton of inventive musicianship and is an instrumental showcase for Stolte and Reingold. It is very spacey and like vintage Pink Floyd complete with amazing slide guitar solo similar to 'One of These Days'.

Shorter tracks 'Lazy Monkey' (2:23) 'Psalm 2013' (2:08) and 'The Wailing Wall' (3:18) follow in succession. 'Lazy Monkey' is quirky and features nice little sig switches like a demented circus. 'Psalm 2013' is atmospheric haunting melodies and ethereal chimes with gentle keys, distant thunder, and flute passages. 'The Wailing Wall' has violining upswept guitar lines and dreamy keyboards. The album has gone instrumental and spacey at this point which surprised me after all the singing previous. Again the organ and guitar have a Pink Floyd sound and are exceptionally performed.

Next is 'Badbeats' that returns to the distorted guitar crashes and swirling synths, then the sound switches to a Gentle Giant vibe with a very unusual signature. Again there are no vocals making it sound a bit incomplete as this is the third in a row sans vocals. 'Burning Spears' follows with a quiet King Crimson like intro, and some off kilter percussion, and spacey guitars. It does indeed sound like a King Crimson improvisation, and again an instrumental with its own sense of adventure. 'The Final Era' ends things with a drum roll intro and glorious lead guitar embellishments in a final instrumental track.

Overall this is a fabulous album that is well worth hearing. I closed off the year with this and it is a great way to see 2013 out. It is an uplifting album with infectious tracks that grow on the ear and the bonus CD is delightful made up of mostly instrumentals. I recommend it for any of TFK fanbase and anyone who enjoys Symphonic Prog without too much heaviness.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Swedish band THE FLOWER KINGS are among the living legends of progressive rock these days, a flagship band in the revival of the genre in the 1990's and a surefire headliner act for just about anyone planning to do a progressive rock festival that wants to draw the crowds in. If we can talk about stars in such a niche environment as progressive rock is, The Flower Kings have been one of the brightest as far as bands that didn't start out in the 1960's or early 70's go. "Desolation Rose" is their 12th studio production, and was released through prestigious label Inside Out in 2013.

Now I do not recall just why this CD came to end up in my stack of CDs to review. I bought this one for my wife as a pre-Christmas gift, the limited edition version with bonus tracks, but can't recall if it subsequently ended up in my stack of CDs to review because she wanted me to write about it or because she had chatted with one of the band members and had promised them I would cover this one. Most likely it is one of those two alternatives though, or that it just happened to be placed in my CD pile accidentally. Still, I do not write about this one because it was sent to me by the label or the artist, which on my case is somewhat unusual.

While I'm obviously familiar with The Flower Kings, they have never been a band that have been that high on my list of music to investigate for some reason or other, possibly it's just a matter of how much time I have at my disposal. They are a quality act of course, always have been and presumably they'll always be so as well, and their meticulous approach to the technical aspects of mixing and production is just one of the top notch qualities about this band. This is an album that should please most audiophiles out there, a well balanced and well assembled production through and through. All instruments are crystal clear, those fond of listening to the details beneath the main motifs and the subtle elements in whatever theme is ongoing will enjoy this album immensely due to this aspect alone.

If you have a taste for retro-oriented symphonic progressive rock you'll obviously have even more to enjoy. Rich cascades of keyboards, organ and Mellotron flavor these compositions with a smorgasbord of sounds, if there is something that can be described as keyboard porn this is it, with elegant guitar soloing on top, in harmony or intertwined in the action of the tangents. As expected from this band the rhythm section is just as excellent, and Roine's vocals, that in my ears have a slight touch of Jon Anderson to them, fits this landscape perfectly.

The songs obviously profit from all of this excellence, but still I didn't find myself getting the goosebumps experience too many times as this disc unfolded. The opening sequence of Tower One actually felt somewhat strained to me for some reason or other, until the first instrumental interlude got going that is. Following that this epic length excursion started to grow quite a bit for me. This also established something of a pattern for me as this CD unfolded. Some songs opened in a not that intriguing manner, growing on me as they unfolded. Title track Desolation Rose another song in that category, The Silent Masses another one.

Other songs gave me goosebumps inducing vibes straight away, like the intriguing Sleeping Bones and later on White Tuxedo as well, but at some point this initial magic faded ever so slightly, the intriguing elements overly used or the song developing in a somewhat less interesting direction. Dark Fascist Skies is the sole exception here though, the generally darker mood an alluring element in itself, and in this case combined with sequences of a less brooding nature that also managed to catch my fancy.

The 8 tracks on the bonus disc gave me a slightly different experience. More varied in style and sound and less cohesive in nature, but more cohesive in terms of my end experience as a listener. From the sheer blatant fun factor of a track like Lazy Monkey to the sacral, cosmic vibes of instrumental Interstellar Variations, the pastoral landscapes of Psalm 2013 and the melancholic mood of concluding piece The Final Era all of these bonus tracks lacked the slight ebb and flow feeling I got from the main album. None of the slightly less alluring parts, but none of the moments of sheer magic either. But a high quality and more than pleasant collection of material it is.

That sums up my impression of "Desolation Rose" quite nicely too. This is, overall, a solid production by a high quality band. If you have a passion for symphonic progressive rock with many vintage qualities, and enjoy that style of music performed by a band whose members appear to have a very high standard on all aspects of the albums they create, this is a CD that deserves your time and attention. Perhaps not the production that will define this band's legacy whenever they decide to retire, but an album that has solid, high quality written all over it.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars I've decided that it's a good idea not to write reviews after only a couple of listens to an album. Not that I usually do, but I am always in the mindset of writing a review these days when I listen to a new CD, and first impressions are not always so favourable, nor do the favourable ones always last.

I was having a tough time getting into this one. It's my fifth FK purchase after "Banks of Eden", "Space Revolver", "Back in the World of Adventures", and "Stardust We Are" and I was really experiencing a feeling of diminishing returns. After "Space Revolver" the debut sounded good but it seemed that most new ground had been broken in the beginning and there was not much that could be called progress on subsequent releases. "Stardust We Are" is to me not very exciting with only three or four tracks getting repeat plays. Much of the album sounds like the band is just treading water. The PA rating for "Desolation Rose" is pretty high and the album is one of only three FK albums to clear 4.00. So, it had to be good, right?

Well, certainly there is a lot of good music on the album. The Flower Kings are no slouches. Listening to the album for the fifth time as I write, it's starting to sound pretty decent. The problem was that at first I felt that there were no songs that truly stood out. Perhaps every song is very good but there was no lasting feeling of euphoria for me. I've been preparing a playlist to burn to CD, choosing my favourite songs from 2013/2014 releases, and it's been no problem picking choice cuts from IQ, Spock's Beard, Opeth, Haken, and others. But after four complete listens to the whole album and the double disc plus several individual songs, I still wasn't able to find a track that begged to be on a favourites list.

The album and bonus disc include the expected FK ingredients such as hard rocking guitars (which sound the same as they do on the debut, "Space Revolver", and "Banks of Eden"), pop-sounding parts, more complex music, dominant keyboards, and slower lounge jazz-tinged moments along with slow and pretty instrumentals for lead guitar soloing and the odd spacey bit, plus some emotive vocals at times. You can expect to find three or four of these aspects together on many of the songs, creating the impression that the Flower Kings just continue mixing the same ingredients without trying anything new. It seems to me that the band is simply content to repeat the same sounds and styles that they introduced to their albums in the 90's.

That doesn't mean a first time buyer won't be impressed. There are many fine moments throughout the album and most songs have their moments of heightened enjoyment. "Tower One" is perhaps THE track to spin though there's nothing new here, and "White Tuxedos" deserves mention for being the most different-sounding track on the album, mostly because of the distorted vocals and the spy-movie-like guitars. In fact, this was the first song off the album to make a spontaneous play in my head at work, demanding a replay on my music player for my ride home.

I noticed some songs include lyrics from others, indicating a concept in the works. The line about "silent graveyards" shows up on three different songs! This repeating of lyrics in different songs doesn't help to diminish the notion that much of the album sounds similar to other parts or indeed the majority of the Flower Kings' catalogue. Could the main album have been like another Transatlantic "Whirlwind"? Is the bonus disc just a collection of mostly short numbers that couldn't be stitched together into longer tracks? It's taken time for me to properly digest everything.

If you decide to get this album, buy the double disc. It'll be like casting a bigger net and catching more fish. You'll still get more of the FK-run-of-the-mill music but there are some highlights on the bonus disc as well. Certainly a very good album for the devout fan and newbie to the Flower Kings. At least that's how I felt this morning when beginning the fifth listen. But now it is starting to take hold in my brain and I am finding "Desolation Rose" is turning out to be actually pretty good. It still doesn't deliver anything new to the FK repertoire but on its own it is rather a fine piece of work. I was going to give it just three stars and then four minus one for lack of progress in sound or adventurousness. But now I think I can push my rating to four stars without reluctance or grudge.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Released barely an year after Banks of Eden, Desolation Rose puts The Flower King back on track and it´s a triumph of their talents. While Banks... was a good album, it still lacked some of the fire, inspiration and focus that made the previous work, The Sum Of No Evil (2007) , so outstanding. I am glad to say Desolation Rose has all those qualities back in spades. With the same line up as before (we hope newcomer Felix Lehrmann will stop the round-the-clock changes at the drum stool), but with far more strong material, the band is in fine form. They deliver the new songs with passion and power. The tunes are maybe the shortest they ever released: only the opener Tower One is over the ten minute mark. Still, the tunes are the same symphonic rock they are famous for, only a little more concise. It´s always good to see a seasoned band taking chances and doing something new without losing their best qualities.

Songs like the title track, The Resurrected Judas, Tower One (one of their best latter day epics) and Dark Fascist Skies are some of the strongest they have produce in years, with excellent musical ideas and inspired lyrics, plus heavier arrangements than previous works, with obvious influences of King Crimson (around the time of Starless and Bible Black/Lark´s Tongs in Aspic). All the songs are good, with a very well balance track sequence. The trading lead vocals of Roine Stolt and Hasse Forberg soars again in full force. Stolt´s guitar work is as emotional as ever and Tomas Bodin´s vintage sounding keyboards are a joy to hear. There is even a bonus CD on the special edition. Not as good as the official CD, but not bad either. There are only two songs with vocals on that part and it´s a good addition in case you´re missing their longer, instrumental parts of the first CD. Production is as brilliant as ever.

Conclusion: after almost 20 years since their debut, it´s a surprise and a pleasure to know that one of prog´s best bands from the 90´s is still alive and kicking, capable of delivering the goods after so many years of hard work and a prolific discography.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes symphonic prog rock at its best.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars 'Desolation Rose' is an album I am quite fond of, for a couple of reasons. One of them is that this was my 'official' introduction to the band (and I was quite mesmerized by what I was hearing, back in 2013), and probably the more essential one is that this is one of the records that really converted me into a full-on prog maniac and made me want more and more.

Now, this is the band's twelfth album, and at such a point in a band's musical career, the expectations are probably not as high as they have been eight or ten years ago. Well, not with the Flower Kings, as this album comes shortly after the brilliant 'Banks of Eden' which was their first release after a 5-year break.

The core of the band is the same as usual with Roine Stolt as the captain of the ship, Tomas Bodin handling all the keyboards, the stunning Jonas Reingold on bass, Hasse Froberg on vocals and additional guitars, and a new drummer in the face of German guy Felix Lehrmann who plays on the previous album as well, of course.

Musically, 'Desolation Rose' is a thematic, in a way, continuation of 'Banks of Eden' but darkened even more. If elegance and lush were prevailing on 'Banks', anxiety and agitation are my best words for this album. These words should not confuse, of course, as the very recognizable and original sound of the band is also present - the big riffs, the catchy choruses, the beautiful vocal harmonies, the quirky keyboard madness, the abstract lyrics, and the pounding bass.

Some consider this a safe album but I really disagree with this statement. The band did not write tremendously long pieces, nor did release this as a double album (I am excluding the bonus disc from this review), these are the facts. But it is also true that they haven't blended the heavier moments with the playful (or 'proggy') ones that flawlessly on any other release. This album is marked by stupendous songwriting, memorable songs, jaw-dropping instrumental sections and an overall sensation of grandiosity, alongside quite a metaphysical exaltation when experiencing the music.

Opening track 'Tower One' is one of the truly wonderful longer pieces of the band, with many mood shifts, not so dramatic instrumental ones, imaginative lyrical content, and ingenious interplay between Roine and Tomas but also between Jonas and Felix.

'Sleeping Bones', one of the shorter tracks on the album, is a more peaceful song, contrasting with 'Tower One' (and this contrast is something the band will use further in the album again on several occasions). 'Desolation Road' is what could be classified as a classic prog song, very symphonic and all over the place. 'White Tuxedos' is a bit of an unexpected entry, as its chorus is a variation of a children's song (I can't really remember the song's name but the melody is quite recognizable) and is one of the things that really sticks to one's mind as a more easy-going song, if this could be said about a Flower Kings song.

'The Resurrected Judas' is an eight-and-a-half-minute exercise in orchestral elevating rock music, sounding very mellifluous and delightful, and carrying the signature TFK retro sound. A retro sound that, in my humble opinion, is given a unique spin of originality which is the reason why the band is so beloved and celebrated, as they never really mimicked any band in particular but embraced the approach of Genesis and Yes, as the two most obvious examples, and furthered it which ultimately led to some of progressive rock's most representative and impressive pieces ever created, but enough with this little lyrical deviation. 'Last Carnivore' is definitely the big rocker of the album, where the punchy verses are excellently followed by the bluesy chorus and the bluesy solo by Stolt. I have never been bored by this song and I've heard it a good bunch of times. 'Dark Fascist Skies' is a critical observation of the contemporary moral of political leaders giving misleading promises, another great track in the Kings' catalogue.

The two final tracks 'Blood of Eden' and 'Silent Graveyards' form a brief closing suite with some reprises of melodies or riffs that were already used on some of the previous songs.

'Desolation Rose' is an excellent album, this I have no doubts about. It is menacing, it is symphonic, it is different from what the Flower Kings usually put out, and it is hauntingly memorable. The performances by the band members are excellent as expected, with my two highlight musicians on this album being probably Hasse, whose vocals are at this point a mandatory part of any Flower Kings album for me, an absolutely powerful and majestic voice and Jonas, whose bass is so prevalent and blissful that I just cannot leave him without a special mention. All this is elevated by the beautiful artwork, one of my favorite TFK covers.

Review by Warthur
4 stars As the title implies, this is an uncharacteristically melancholy and sombre album from the Flower Kings, the second studio release of their brief early 2010s return from hiatus (which was followed by a longer hiatus before their more recent reawakening). Retro-prog is still the name of the game, but this time around they seem to have been drinking deep from the oasis of Camel when it comes to seeking inspiration, perhaps inspiring a more emotionally nuanced and thoughtful approach than their more consistently cheerful early material. With tracks like White Tuxedos trying out vocal experiments, there's still some quirkiness here, but it's in the service of a mature look at the world which sees much to worry about - but also moments of joy here and there.

Latest members reviews

4 stars 'Desolation Rose' is the twelfth studio album by The Flower Kings, released on 28 October 2013. This is the last Flower Kings album to feature Tomas Bodin. Like 'Banks of Eden,' 'Desolation Rose' comprises two discs, the second one being a bonus disc of music that didn't make it on to the first. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#2986363) | Posted by Magog2112 | Sunday, January 28, 2024 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Arriving one year after their comeback album, I have never felt such a sonic change between two adjacent FK albums. This one stroke me by its relative simplicity and accessibility. Playing has been streamlined which put songwriting in more focus. Only the first track has complexity somewhat re ... (read more)

Report this review (#2963751) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, October 22, 2023 | Review Permanlink

1 stars It almost feels like a sing to give a TFK record only 3 stars, but while Desolation Rose is pretty darn good, I don't consider it essential, and the lack of anything I would call a truly great TFK song doesn't help its cause. That said, every song is good, the flow is great, and songs like To ... (read more)

Report this review (#1127790) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Thursday, February 6, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After a relatively fallow period artistically following "Space Revolver" (don't get me wrong, there is no such thing as a bad Flower Kings album, but some aren't as good as others), The Flower Kings came back in a huge way with "Banks of Eden". I thought that there was absolutely no way that th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1120855) | Posted by Fenrispuppy | Saturday, January 25, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Much is said about the Flower Kings' latest being their darkest and the emphasis on shorter songs. Darker, well, lyrically maybe. But not in music. I've heard more metallic from them. Despite occasional hard rock flourishes, this is your typical Flower Kings - winding symphonic retro prog that a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1102406) | Posted by Progrussia | Sunday, December 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Even though their epics are the most interesting part of their music, the Flower Kings have always enjoyed composing and playing songs, I mean pieces with the simple structure of a song. All their records are a perfect combination between monumental epics, long pieces and simple songs. "Desolatio ... (read more)

Report this review (#1102123) | Posted by Kjarks | Sunday, December 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Flower Kings- Desolation Rose-Limited Edition A review by Don Cassidy of Delicious Agony Progressive Rock Radio After almost twenty years and twelve albums that are highly regarded in the modern progressive rock world, how does a band do something different? The Flower Kings faced ... (read more)

Report this review (#1094235) | Posted by YESABWH | Saturday, December 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I cannot praise this album highly enough. The mood is often dark and angry - this is a prog rock band commenting on what the powers that be are doing to wreck the world.Roine's guitar is inventive and evocative.Thomas Bodin weighs in with some beautiful if at times understated keys,and the rhyt ... (read more)

Report this review (#1075991) | Posted by daisy1 | Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I haven't got any big expectations before listening to the new TFK record bacause the last two albums were not my cup of tea, but now, after three albums of disappointment I somehow I feel that this band lost its magic, spark and freshness. At least for me. Desolation Rose has lots of songs, sh ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068757) | Posted by Katusnya | Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have listened to The Flower Kings' latest record "Desolation Rose", totally fresh and to be exactly their twelfth one. I see a fascinating cover picture with three faces and a beautiful red rose on the "roof". Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold, Tomas Bodin, Hasse Fröberg and Felix Lehrmann has done ... (read more)

Report this review (#1067316) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, October 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I love early Flower Kings but I love their new, harder, more serious sound more. In fact, Banks of Edan is one of my favorite albums. Naturally I had high expectations and I was no let down with Desolation. It features more focused writing than Banks of Edan. Some lyrics are repeated in other so ... (read more)

Report this review (#1064846) | Posted by GorillaMunch | Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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