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The Flower Kings

Symphonic Prog

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The Flower Kings By Royal Decree album cover
3.85 | 160 ratings | 7 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2022

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (52:19)
1. The Great Pretender (6:59)
2. World Gone Crazy (5:07)
3. Blinded (7:52)
4. A Million Stars (7:20)
5. The Soldier (5:26)
6. The Darkness in You (5:17)
7. We Can Make It Work (2:53)
8. Peacock on Parade (5:22)
9. Revolution (6:03)

CD 2 (41:48)
1. Time the Great Healer (6:17)
2. Letter (2:26)
3. Evolution (4:50)
4. Silent Ways (5:04)
5. Moth (4:41)
6. The Big Funk (4:44)
7. Open Your Heart (5:20)
8. Shrine (1:11)
9. Funeral Pyres (7:15)

Total Time 94:07

Line-up / Musicians

- Roine Stolt / vocals, electric & acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars, ukulele, Portuguese 12-string guitar, nylon guitar, additional keyboards, orchestration
- Hasse Fröberg / vocals, 12-string acoustic guitar
- Zach Kamins / organ, pianos, synths, orchestration
- Michael Stolt / bass, Moog Taurus, backing vocals
- Jonas Reingold / fretted & fretless basses
- Mirkko DeMaio / drums & percussion, additional orchestration
- Hasse Bruniusson / acoustic & electronic percussion

- Jonas Lindberg / bass
- Rob Townsend / saxophones
- Aliaksandr Yasinski / accordion
- Jannica Lund / backing vocals

Releases information

Cover: Kevin Sloan
Label: InsideOut Music
Formats: 2CD, Limited 3LP+2CD, Digital
March 4, 2022

Thanks to projeKct for the addition
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Buy THE FLOWER KINGS By Royal Decree Music

THE FLOWER KINGS By Royal Decree ratings distribution

(160 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

THE FLOWER KINGS By Royal Decree reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
3 stars As many of you all may know, The Flower Kings are one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite modern progressive rock acts. To me their work is top tier in many respects. From the beautiful and space like Stardust We Are, to the happy and fun filled Banks of Eden. I fully believe they can capture many essences of what makes Prog of today so fun to dive into for both young and old fans. Their music isn't perfect mind you, but they do have a great and consistent track record of great if not good albums. Their albums usually have great flows, great crescendos, amazing vocal work from Roine Stolt, and aspics that truly make them retro Prog legends.

With all that, I was obviously excited for their 2022 album release, By Royal Decree. After the album was released on streaming services, I was excited for what was to come from the album. Gotta say, I was quite surprised the first time hearing it.

The album definitely feels a lot different than most of the band's catalog. It's a lot less symphonic and takes a bit more of a rock sound and something a tad bit related to something like a Crossover Prog or a Eclectic Prog album. The starting track, The Great Pretender, introduces this new sound pretty nicely. Each song afterwards complements these less symphonic sounds and it feels like the band is less of an orchestra and more of a actual band. I don't mind this, though I won't deny that I do not have some sadness of the missing complexities of the act they had for most of their career.

However this album definitely has a new charm, being the complexities of these songs. I am not saying complex as in song structure, but complex as in lyrically and artistically. A lot of these songs are from the cutting room floor and they have some pretty conspicuous lyrics and ideas of the mind, soul, war, and many things that can be good head scratchers.

Though this album definitely has it's fair share of problems. This album is definitely a album with back problems. While the first few and last few songs are pretty excellent and makes me feel good, I will not deny the few middle songs are kinda forgettable. Not bad just kinda boring and or forgettable. The vocals are also a tiny bit wonky. I know Roine is a bit older, with him being in his 60s, I do feel like a lot of the times he misses the mark on the lot of the songs here, songs like The Darkness in You and Time The Great Healer especially.

If I could, I'd have Roine do a retake on the lot of these songs just so they don't sound a bit rusty.

So was this a good album? Yeah, I'd say it was pretty good, though it doesn't have what I need out of a Flower Kings album. It's definitely a grower album for me, I like what it pulls, but I might have to find a bit of a taste for the type of music that is found on this album. Not a bad album at all, but definitely not as good as I'd hope it'd be.

Review by DangHeck
4 stars The most recent installment and technically their fifteenth studio album(!), By Royal Decree is their fourth (including 2018's Manifesto of an Alchemist, under the seemingly backhanded name Roine Stolt's The Flower King), following the still-mysterious departure of the once-seemingly-quintessential--I still want to give him compliments galore--Tomas Bodin. Through and through, regardless of personnel, The Flower Kings are still wondrously capable monarchs, and kindly for continuing to share this mutual love with us [I guess I've been in my feels recently haha].

Opening up the album, "The Great Pretender" is a triumph. As with much in the Flower Kings catalog, this has classic Prog moments and modernity alike. Solid melodies and a composition which is so convincingly confident and daring, it's successfully moving. Big shock coming from these veteran Swedes /s. Killer synth solo toward the end, from Bodin's replacement, Zach Kamins. "World Gone Crazy", with Flower Kings' branded drama in title and sonics, is dark and tense; a tad Fusion-y, a tad spacy. Delicious stuff; forever impressed specifically with drummer Mirkko DeMaio; yet another insane synth solo to wrap this one up as well. Plenty to love.

"Blinded" has a classic, Dark Roine-penned theme. Awesome layers and satisfying buildup and release of tension throughout. Gotta unclench that jaw some time haha. There is some incredible saxophone soloing here, performed by a man I incidentally saw last night, Rob Townsend of Steve Hackett's band (incredible show, if you ever are granted the chance; I was truly blessed). Indeed "Blinded" could well have been something in Hackett's catalog, a plenty high praise. Modern Prog simply doesn't get much better than this! And then, we get a bit sentimental on "A Million Stars", don't we? Sonically reminds me of Styx or America [that sounds confusing now that I'm reading it back]? As a whole, impressive, though I'm not wild about the song, if you're trackin'.

We come back to familiar big feelings Flower Kings on "The Soldier". Sweeping and beautiful (3.5/5.0, to be clear; less readied for your "prog rock music collection", but a fine song nonetheless). Unveiling more about ourselves than what I was ready to hear tonight /s, "The Darkness in You" is sweet in its melancholic intro. Before the second verse, it drops away, besides drums, and my mind went to Celine's ridiculously epic take on "All By Myself", yet there's nothing sweeping or epic to that degree here. Honestly, the first low-point on the record. "We Can Make It Work"? More like "We Can Make a Mid-00s Singer-Songwriter Hit Psychedelic Pop". Quirky Edwardian something-rather. I'm on the fence about it, but it is plenty well performed.

And finally we get a moment from the band that I am excited to proclaim, 'Now this is Flower Kings!': "Peacock on Parade". I still get excited about these things. I guess you could say it's working then [toothsome smile emoji]. This has a really great organ solo, so excellently performed, driven harder and seemingly faster with the rhythm section to boot. "Revolution" up next features some medieval-esque sounds. Charming and then booming. Another one forward-driving, despite the hard swing of the drums. Synth in the middle reminded me of Starcastle, yet this section is like Jazz-meets-Alt-meets-Melodic-Metal. In some sense, I think it had me wanting just a little bit more.

"Time the Great Healer"... I guess Roine's short stint recording with Jon Anderson rubbed off on the guy, huh? Emotive. The synth's airy timbre, impressive as all these thangs are today--before the compositional shift nearing minute 3--made me think of present-day Todd Rundgren keysmith Glasys [You should definitely take a moment to check out his insane videos on, in the very least, Instagram]. The experimental soloing and general soundscape, especially that of the bridge section, really saved this one for me. I was a bit skeptic at the start. "Letter" most immediately had me wondering if this was inspired, in part, by Frank Zappa (think Hot Rats or perhaps Uncle Meat). Quirky, exciting and eclectic, yet undeniably Art Pop. Pretty unorthodox for them, but I found it a real treat.

"Evolution"! Woah! Epic and classic! Recognizing here and now, since I've used the term 'epic' I think twice now, By Royal Decree quite surprisingly has no track over 8 minutes in length. Just one of the truly plenty-if-not-many reasons the album has been so approachable, this unsurprisingly (speaking as a fan of these Kings, this is a feat haha). We return to our 'feels' on "Silent Ways" (too pretty a track to make a fart joke? I'm not so sure...). Our first lead vox track in a while with the great Hasse Froberg, I welcome it always [Oh, wow, I haven't listened to "The Truth Will Set You Free" in a longer while...]. What I would think was the bridge has a lot of noggin-massagin', but I was definitely not in love with this track. Great ideas nonetheless.

"Moth" is... dark haha. And sad? Y'all into melancholia? Weird in the second half... Is this Danny Elfman? We about to hear this on the next Tim Burton film soundtrack? Sort of another out of character for the band, but good at what it does. "The Big Funk" begins with a... space Raga? Fantastic sound. The track features more Worldly sonic choices and instrumentation throughout. Again, triumphant, glorious, righteous feel. More Jon-Anderson-isms on "Open Your Heart"? Perhaps. Even on these sort of tracks, focused on emotion and their encouraging benedictions, they do find a way to stir interest. It's not boring, at least haha. In fact, like with the shifting and sliding into the outro, we get a tasty guitar solo from Roine.

Approaching the close, "Shrine" is a minute-long piano interlude, somewhat an intro to the final track, "Funeral Pyres" (perhaps weaker as both interlude and intro?). Roine's guitar is soulful and powerful on the latter track. The rhythm is slinky and loose, a bit of a foot-tapper. This is a Hasse vocals number. We get some mallet work, too! Around the midpoint, the rhythm shifts once more, into a bluesy, seemingly gospel-inspired section. Nice track overall, but not the most stellar closer in my opinion.

Happy to hear more from Stolt and Co, regardless, and of course I look forward to the next!

True Rate: 3.75/5.00

[Currently sitting in a newer cafe in my hometown I hadn't been to yet, and it's honestly as if a Target showroom spat up. Anyways, House Blend strikes again.] [This is now a day later, not at a Target-sponsored cafe, and god, I love this band.] [Editing this weeks later, as I can't help but do, I did in fact listen to their magnum opus, in my opinion, "The Truth Will Set You Free". Highly, highly recommend that classic.]

Review by kev rowland
4 stars I don't think it is possible for Roine Stolt to release a bad album, no matter what band he is involved with, and here we have the fifteenth studio effort from the group who took their name from his incredible 1994 solo album, which I loved when it came out. It thrust the name of the ex-Kaipa guitarist right into the heart of the underground, and in these days of the internet it is hard to explain just how big an impact it had on the scene when it was released, back when all anyone had were a few fanzines and word of mouth. Since then, there have been various musicians through the group, and to be honest as long as Roine is there in control of it all that is all that matters.

But, one of the major issues he has always had is a refusal to self-edit as much as he should, and it is not unusual to release albums which are overlong and should have been cut back in size. At 94 minutes this is not their longest release, but that is still pretty lengthy and demands two CDs, and here they have used the opportunity to spread their wings and sit strongly within symphonic prog yet also bring in influences from other areas as well. It is an album which takes quite a bit of listening to, as it takes quite a bit of time to really get inside, even though it feels highly commercial and the musicianship is stunning. I did smile when I saw Rob Townsend guesting on sac (and his addition is inspired), given the last time I saw him was in his normal day job with Steve Hackett, who on the last tour had Jonas Reingold on bass. The first time I played it all the way through I kept looking to see when it was ending and how much longer it had to go until it finished, but the next time I just let myself fall into the music, with the result being the realisation that this is another very good album indeed. Not up to the standard of 'Waiting For Miracles' perhaps, but still very enjoyable for all progheads.

Review by Warthur
4 stars By Royal Decree follows the same general format as the preceding two Flower Kings albums, Waiting For Miracles and Islands - it's a two-CD release, but the running time is a shade over 90 minutes rather than being the sort of epic monster album the band used to put out in the 1990s, and the focus is on (by their standards) shorter pieces rather than epics. That doesn't mean it's less Flower Kings-y by any stretch of the imagination - it just means that the compositions are a bit tighter. Though Waiting For Miracles is still the best album of this clutch of three, By Royal Decree is still a solidly entertaining collection of work, leaning perhaps a bit more on the Yes-influenced side of their sound and a bit less on the quirky, Zappa-esque playfulness which crept in during Islands.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This is the 15th album from veteran Progressive rock band The Flower Kings, and 3rd since their 2019 reformation with this current lineup. This is a double album, as each of their previous few have been as well, so it is quite expansive and contains a lot of music, 18 tracks of mostly shorter songs ... (read more)

Report this review (#2872201) | Posted by BBKron | Sunday, January 1, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars So, just to be up front here, I am pretty new to the TFK train and have been making an effort to take the entire catalog all in. Given that there are some 15 studio albums, many of them 75 to 90 minutes and even longer, this has been a somewhat monumental task. I have taken all of them in order ... (read more)

Report this review (#2713670) | Posted by SilverLight59 | Monday, March 28, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You know, it's true that this band doesn't get the love they deserve. This album came out in March, and artist Kevin Sloan is back on album artwork duty. I have listened to this album numerous times, and this album never fails to be one of the best this band has released. The artwork is typical of K ... (read more)

Report this review (#2696495) | Posted by ComaEcliptic | Wednesday, March 2, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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