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THE FLOWER KINGS

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


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The Flower Kings biography
Founded in Uppsala, Sweden in 1994 - Hiatus between 2008-2012

It's hard to make a biography about THE FLOWER KINGS, being that there's so much to say about them, so any attempt of telling their history may seem insufficient.
This essential Swedish group was born around 1993 as a power trio formed by Roine STOLT (Ex-KAIPA) in guitar and vocals, Jaime SALAZAR (Drums) and Hasse BRUNIUSSON (percussion), and ex-SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, this lineup worked with Stolt in his solo album "The Flower King" with the participation of Hans Fröberg (Lead and Backing vocals) who would stay with them.

Soon they decided to form a band using the name of the solo album so THE FLOWER KINGS was born, the keyboardist Tomas BODIN and Roine's brother Michael in the bass joined and the band was officially born.

For 1995 they have their first release ready "Back in the World of Adventures" which impressed the critics very much for their closeness to the style of early bands such as Moody Blues, genesis, Jethro Tull etc, borrowing ideas but not music, so you can easily find their inspiration but a single chord copied, I personally liked the album but found it closer to Neo Prog than to Symphonic but this is only a stylistic precision that has no relation with the quality of the album.

The next few years are prolific with few changes and they release "Retropolis" in 1996. Stardust we Are" in 1997 and "Flower Power" in 1998 with no great changes.
In 1999 Michael Stolt leaves the band and is replaced by Jonas Reingold so the new formation for "Space Revolver" in the year 2000 also includes Ulf Wallander playing the Sax as a guest that remains for a long period with them.

After "The Rainmaker" in 2001 Jaime Salazar leaves the band and the drums are taken by Zoltan Csörsz who stays in the band until the release of "Paradox Hotel" (2005) when is replaced by Marcus Liliequist.
As most Swedish bands the quality of their music and the musicianship of their members is impeccable but don't expect the complexity of their most illustrious compatriots like Anglagard or the dark and almost religious atmosphere of Par Lindh Project (With whom Roine worked in Gothic Impressions), being that the music of THE FLOWER KINGS is a bit lighter but not inferior by any means.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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THE FLOWER KINGS discography


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THE FLOWER KINGS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 671 ratings
Back in the World of Adventures
1995
3.74 | 589 ratings
Retropolis
1996
3.93 | 674 ratings
Stardust We Are
1997
3.96 | 573 ratings
Flower Power
1999
3.88 | 605 ratings
Space Revolver
2000
3.50 | 502 ratings
The Rainmaker
2001
3.88 | 604 ratings
Unfold the Future
2002
3.48 | 537 ratings
Adam & Eve
2004
3.71 | 543 ratings
Paradox Hotel
2006
3.82 | 606 ratings
The Sum of No Evil
2007
4.06 | 870 ratings
Banks of Eden
2012
3.96 | 647 ratings
Desolation Rose
2013
3.65 | 269 ratings
Waiting for Miracles
2019
3.82 | 214 ratings
Islands
2020
3.94 | 100 ratings
By Royal Decree
2022

THE FLOWER KINGS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 148 ratings
Alive on Planet Earth
2000
4.41 | 200 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003
2003
3.47 | 38 ratings
Carpe Diem - Live in USA
2008
4.08 | 86 ratings
Tour Kaputt
2011

THE FLOWER KINGS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.16 | 136 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003
2003
3.76 | 106 ratings
Instant Delivery
2006
4.21 | 57 ratings
Tour Kaputt
2011

THE FLOWER KINGS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.46 | 51 ratings
Scanning the Greenhouse
1998
4.10 | 12 ratings
Two in One
2006
3.26 | 82 ratings
The Road Back Home
2007
4.83 | 23 ratings
A Kingdom of Colours
2017
4.58 | 26 ratings
A Kingdom of Colours II
2018

THE FLOWER KINGS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.85 | 13 ratings
Édition Limitée Québec 1998
1998
4.25 | 8 ratings
The Flower Kings
1999
2.88 | 17 ratings
Fanclub CD 2000
2000
3.09 | 40 ratings
The Rainmaker (Limited Edition)
2001
3.72 | 28 ratings
Live in New York - Official Bootleg
2002
3.89 | 25 ratings
The Fanclub CD 2002 - A Collection of Flower Kings Related Music
2002
2.22 | 38 ratings
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid!!
2004
2.48 | 14 ratings
Fanclub CD 2004
2004
2.95 | 30 ratings
Fanclub CD 2005 - Harvest
2005
3.69 | 47 ratings
BrimStoned in Europe
2005

THE FLOWER KINGS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Back in the World of Adventures by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.03 | 671 ratings

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Back in the World of Adventures
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by DangHeck

4 stars When I put myself to the task of listening back on through their discography, I'm not sure I knew what I was getting myself into, knowing full well that an hour+ is the norm... Fortunately for me, this 70-some minute debut from one of Sweden's best exports (in my opinion) isn't the "worst" of it. I find, starting here in 1995, The Flower Kings were fairly consistently great for nearly a decade straight. I'm curious how I'll feel now, as it's been years since I've seriously delved into these albums (I wonder why). A year following frontman Roine Stolt's third solo album, since then aptly named The Flower King (1994), the band of approximately the same name released this'n. I always felt that The Flower Kings and their truest contemporaries (Echolyn, Spock's Beard and IZZ, for instance), were heads and shoulders above the Neo-Prog of the '80s they followed (and thankfully departed from). Phenomenal, fresh compositions performed by exemplary musicians for a new generation of Prog listeners (in a very new world musically). These bands, I feel, paved the way for bands like Big Big Train, Transatlantic (shocker), The Tangent (also a shocker haha), Beardfish, Wobbler and the like.

"World of Adventures" starts us off in nearly full form. It's a now-classic balance of heavy and soft, melody and rhythm, and a great showcase of the band's overall talents (from all present instrumentalists to Roine's layered vocals). There's something about this composition that I feel has more in common with the American Prog of what I consider the Second Wave (Kansas, Styx, etc.) than it does with the original Prog of the UK and Europe at large. As a song, in good form (sometimes the Flower Kings have me wanting when it comes to the more basic things, if anything); awesome soloing later on, especially from the great Tomas Bodin. On the next, "Atomic Prince / Kaleidoscope", they capture the sort of Medieval vibe of Gentle Giant or Greenslade. The start is a show of Roine's own talents as a guitarist to truly be reckoned with (and this isn't even the best of it here). Calling from the other side of Prog, they evoke ambience and soundscape in the second half ("Kaleidoscope"). This, too, eventually falls away in its own way to lovely acoustic soloing.

One of the more memorable songs, by my current estimation, is "Go West Judas" [my estimation being correct]. When Roine (and Co.) go hard, they go hard. And even at 65 today (in 2022), he's still bringin' it (in recent, I'm glad to recommend "Owl Howl" by Transatlantic). After the 2 minute mark, back to his soloing, he has this quick little thing, but it is... anything but small haha. Crazy tone, too. And then the solo proper. Just sheesh (a tad Fusion, a tad neo-Classical). Around minute 4, the rhythm has a slight Reggae-type lilt. And then there's a hint of twang on it as we near the end (a la Steve Howe), though all the while we are set within this grandiose symphony. Epic; especially in its further classic evocations of Yes or Genesis. "...Judas" is juxtaposed to the thematically similar, though more positive (barely...) "Train to Nowhere". Love his voice or hate it--this is just before the happy inclusion of the much more vocally talented Hasse Fröberg--this is one of Roine's better vocal performances. As for the song, a lowlight, by the way. Continuing right along, we have the feature of Ulf Wallander on sax on the jazzy Space Rock of "Oblivion Road" (not dissimilar to Gong, but with more classic symphonic trills). Very chill.

In comparison, we enter the bombast on "Theme for a Hero", another where we get a fantastic performance by Bodin. And around minute 3, another moment of Howesque playing by Stolt. They are one of the best in generating moving material in [mini]epic form. Great bridge section around minute 5, and featuring awesome drumming by the excellent Jaime Salazar. An instrumental track and, to me, it's the strongest thus far. Next is the shortest of the bunch by far, the minute-and-a-half "Temple of the Snakes". Our apparent snake gods summon us forth at the start of the upbeat (Worldbeat?) "My Cosmic Lover". Such a cool feel over an amazing groove, fortified so strongly by Michael Stolt's bass playing. Classic melodies! Fantastic everything, really. At the end we get another sax feature from Ulf. Another stark juxtaposition is found in the next, "The Wonder Wheel", starting off soft and ethereal. Super classic, like something you might expect in the middle of a Happy the Man album? Really cool interlude track anyways. The album closer, "Big Puzzle", is almost the exact length of its opposite bookend (just over 13 minutes). Man! More Bodin, please! [Amazing he was effectively let go a few years back... Still don't know about it in depth.] Great melodies here, too! What's there to complain about? haha. It's a great Symphonic Prog epic by a great Symphonic Prog band!

Certainly not perfect, but truly an excellent debut record. Excited to dig into the rest. It's been far too long, and my body and mind are together readied.

 Adam & Eve by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.48 | 537 ratings

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Adam & Eve
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Well, would you Adam 'n' Eve it! It's another Flower Kings studio album, but this time the cover art seems rather different in style from what we're used to seeing from the group. Don't let that fool you, though: to a large extent this is Flower Kings business as usual... which is kind of the problem with this release.

You see, if you'd been listening to the Kings' career chronologically up to this point you've already had a LOT of Flower Kings business as usual to digest - not simply because of the number of albums they released, but because of the sheer length of those albums, with the band frequently stuffing CDs to their time limits or putting out double CD albums of comfortably more than 2 hours long. This is very well-trod ground, and this time around it's feeling like Stolt and crew are going through the motions.

Possibly this was deliberate. The Rainmaker, which I thought was excellent, took a somewhat more moody and subdued atmosphere than we're used to hearing from the band and presented that in conjunction with an approach which still hit on some interesting sounds but didn't seem to be going out of its way to cram as many different ideas into the pot as possible (which earlier Kings releases had tended to). They followed that up with Unfold the Future, which was a return to a more traditional format for them but ended up going somewhat deeper than usual into their jazz fusion flirtations - that was less to my taste, but at least with the latter aspect something new was being tried, though to my ears away from the jazzier sections it seemed to be Flower Kings-by-numbers.

Still, perhaps even this departure was too much for some fans. Adam and Even seems like a studied exercise in mostly presenting the least musically challenging parts of the band's musical palette. Oh sure, sure, Love Supreme and Driver's Seat are epic in length, but in terms of what's actually musically presented in that length you're largely looking at the Kings' well-worn brand of early Yes combined with the odd mild gospel influence. It's all competently done, but where's the humour, where's the sense of surprise, where's the band who'd add a good dose of Zappa to their retro-prog gumbo to give it some more spice?

A further issue is presented with the approach to vocals. The harmony vocals are fine - it's the lead vocals that are the issue. being more prominently featured and with the band doing more bits where multiple lead vocalists each have bits on a song, which often ends up feeling more jarring than effective. The best vocals here are from Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlöw, but this is its own problem - they're just good enough that you're left wishing that they'd just let him do all the leads and have Hasse and Roine concentrate on the harmonies.

On the whole, Adam and Eve is a title which should really suggest new beginnings, but on here the Flower Kings largely deliver the same-old-same-old. They did it fresher and with more surprises and flair on their 1990s albums, and I just don't see a compelling reason to get this if you already own those: just give one of them another spin and you'll get much the same as you have here. Two and a half stars.

 By Royal Decree by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.94 | 100 ratings

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By Royal Decree
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by SilverLight59

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 at least once to get a sense of the band's progression, and have listened to most of them more than once. I have also spent quite a bit of time reading the reviews for the albums as well, and wow what a mixed bag. Rightly so, this band garners considerable respect from the prog community, and yet there is a lot of love/hate responses to their ongoing evolution, which to me seems a bit fanatical. Admittedly, TFK does a lot of experimentation with different styles so not every song, or every album in its entirety, is going to appeal to everyone but overall in my opinion the diversity and evolution is a big part of their appeal.

For the record, I really enjoy well constructed epics and TFK has plenty of them, but the last three albums have deviated from this pattern pretty substantially. They have instead been constructed of mostly shorter songs, although still fairly lengthy in comparison to standard radio fare, and this seems to be a source of disappointment for many long time fans of the band. However, within this framework there is much room for experimentation and diversity. Admittedly, some of it is quite prog oriented, but other pieces not so much, and yet there is generally enough complexity to compensate for this.

While I clearly am not as qualified to review this band as many long time fans, being as I have enjoyed the recent release 'By Royal Decree', I am feeling up to the challenge of offering a new fan's perspective on this latest release. To start off the album cover is gorgeous and builds up anticipation for the music that it accompanies. This is a big plus for me as I have to say I really hate some of their album art, although the music in the albums is still great. So here is my take on music...

The Great Pretender: This is a great opening track that is diverse in musical ideas and tempos, and nice trading off of vocal duties. Enjoy the theatrical flavor of the hell and high water section of the song which is followed by a nice guitar solo, and then finishes with an enjoyable synth conclusion. A nice start! (9/10)

World Gone Crazy: Starts with a gradual build up, a quick riff or two, into a vocal section, at 3:30 breaks into a nother enjoyable synth section. Not overly prog, more rock, lyrics very apropos for our day. Ends with a repeat of the short opening riff. (7/10)

Blinded: Opens with somewhat eerie build up, becomes more upbeat, some semi jazzy guitar and instrumentation in a nice instrumental section in the middle. Around 5:30 builds back into the more ominous tone highlighting synths once again, ends with the jazzy flavor fading away. (8/10)

A Million Stars: A kind of spacey sounding ballad with lots of little tweaky synth sounds filtered through out, just a very pretty song. At 4:15 it sounds like the song is over, but changes to an even slower tempo and plays out to its conclusion. The first four minutes would make for a nice single. I always ponder if some portion of a prog album could be released to attract attention to widen the prog fan base; this could be it for this album. One of my favorite tracks on this album, but have to take a point away for the somewhat repetitive lyrics, but a small complaint really.... (9/10)

The Soldier: A pretty straight forward lyric oriented piece until it hits the 3:00 minute mark and a nice instrumental sections lifts it up, closes with more lyrics. Nice but nothing particularly new here (7/10)

The Darkness In You: I am a sucker for prog ballads and this is another good one. Has a nice slow musical atmosphere, nice backing harmonies to the primary vocals, nice closing blues guitar and piano. Another favorite for me (9/10)

We Can Make It Work: This one has a kind of Beatles vibe, 70's type sound, happy and upbeat. Quite a contrast to the previous track in mood and tempo. Short, fun, simple, and optimistic. Again, not particularly prog but enjoyable nonetheless (8/10)

Peacock on Parade: Related to the cover art? Perhaps. Starts with a nice instrumental build up. In fact, except for a very short lyrical interlude remains an instrumental throughout with musical duties shared by the various members of the band. Pleasant enough but nothing strikingly memorable either (7/10)

Revolution: This starts with a minstrel type vibe, upbeat and catchy, immediately draws you in. The vocal immediately makes me think of Jon Anderson in tone and style, especially at the outset of the vocals. This gradually fades away. Around the 4:00 mark, the Million Stars music and lyrics are reprized, but go up tempo and more dramatic. I really like this technique as it ties things together. It would have been quite doable to put the Million Stars track and this one together and had a nice suite, and a mini epic. Interesting that they did not choose to do this. (9/10)

Time the Great Healer: This one is for the first three minutes is very vocal oriented with a soft under side of straight forward musical accompaniment. After this it picks up with an array of synth and guitar, more unusual synth gyrations, and closes with repeat of the vocals over the more uptempo musicianship. Second half of the song saves this one, overall not bad. (8/10)

Letter: A very short prog pop type offering. Didn't particularly like this the first time I heard it but it has grown on me as a nice interlude. It may be just me but for some reason when I first heard this song, even though they are quite different from one another, it reminded me straight away of 'Don't Go' from the Yes album Magnification. In any event, I'll call it a keeper. (8/10)

Evolution: The first complete instrumental track. A mid tempo piece with nice synth and keyboard foundation with enjoyable bass and lead guitar over. (8/10)

Silent Ways: Starts slow and low, acoustic oriented ballad, nice vocal, around 3:00 starts to build up a bit in intensity, electric guitar eventually comes in. Again, not particularly prog, but I like it. (8/10)

Moth: A mournful sounding song, piano based, another ballad. At 2:45 there is a pause and the piece begins to come back and pick up some depth and gentle intensity and choir like vocals to close it out. (7/10)

The Big Funk: After the last two very calm ballads, this one starts slow but gradually builds up a bit with some good guitar and synth interplay. About halfway through the tempo picks up a bit more, but never fully takes off. (7/10)

Open Your Heart: A bit more uptempo ballad with some pleasant synth and keyboard under layment, a little restrained guitar interplay especially at the end, mostly vocal oriented. (7/10)

Shrine: A very short piano instrumental. What is there not to like about this? (8/10)

Funeral Pyres: Starts with some guitar with a bit of power in it. Been waiting for this after a sequence of more ballad type pieces. Lots of things going on this one with tempo and instrument changes, one of the more prog oriented efforts. Nice build up to the end. A decent closer for the album (9/10)

So what are my take aways for 'By Royal Decree'? First of all, this comes across as a very accessible effort with a satisfying degree of complexity and prog sensibilities. That being said, there are portions that are not particularly prog-centric, but still seem to fit anyway. All in all, while not rating any song as perfect 10 although some are very close, there is nothing bad in the entire 94 minutes of music. It's a lot to absorb but worth the effort.

I can see where long time fans of TFK will miss the longer epics and wilder experimentation of past albums, but this work certainly has its merits also. It can definitely expose the band to new listeners for sure as it wouldn't be a bad place to start their catalog. That being said, I would be the first to admit that it is not necessarily a direct representation of their past work, but what would be given its grand scope and volume?

Most prog oriented songs if you want to focus on those are 'the Great Pretender', 'Blinded', 'A Million Stars', 'Darkness in You', 'Revolution', 'Time the Great Healer', and 'Funeral Pyres'.

Log time fans given to their older style may not agree, but I am going with 4 star score, not for how it compares to their past work, but on its own merits, especially from a new fan's perspective.

 Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003 by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Live, 2003
4.41 | 200 ratings

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Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By the early 2000s The Flower Kings were developing a reputation as The Prog Band Who Doesn't Leave Anything On The Cutting Room Floor - regularly putting out sprawling double-CD albums which crammed as much music as possible onto both discs. Whilst these albums would usually offer you over 2 hours of good music, a little trimming could have dialed most of them back to 90 or so minutes of great music, and I personally thought Unfold The Future took the schtick too far, a slightly forced attempt to go back to that Stardust We Are/Flower Power model after two albums which managed to be pretty good and restrict themselves to a single disc each. (Indeed, I think their best studio album of their 1995-2002 run was The Rainmaker, one of those single-CD affairs.)

So it was some trepidation that I listened to Meet The Flower Kings - a live album with over 2 and a half hours of music, and focused solely on Flower Kings epics - the shortest song here being an over 10 minute rendition of Circus Brimstone from Stardust We Are. A good cross-section of the band's albums are represented - the full half-hour Truth Shall Set You Free is here from Unfold The Future, as is Silent Inferno, the title track from Stardust We Are rounds off the set, you get Humanizzimo from Roine Stolt's The Flower King solo album, and there's a rendition of Garden of Dreams from Flower Power which trims back its epic hour-long length into a comparatively tight 44 minutes.

It's that last point which gave me a sliver of hope - clearly, the Kings were actually willing to trim back the filler, and that's part of what makes this live album such a treat. The other is that the band are both talented enough to pull off these marathon tracks in a live context and manage to inject them with a verve which was sometimes missing from the studio versions. The Unfold the Future material particularly benefits here - they sound like they are actually enjoying themselves, there's a warmth here that was a little missing from that slightly sterile album, and in general it just seems to have a little extra spark to it that the Unfold the Future version was missing.

Sure, it's another 2CD feast, but when it's a live album with a carefully curated setlist that's much less of a burden than when it's a studio CD which is throwing in filler to pad out the length. Nicely, there is almost no overlap in terms of song selection with their previous 2CD live album, Alive On Planet Earth - the only song that appears on both is Stardust We Are, and on Alive On Planet Earth that's a 10 minute cut down version (essentially just part 3 of the whole package), not the full rendition we get here.

Once again I am left substantially more impressed with a live release from the Flower Kings than I was with some of their studio efforts. On the one hand, their talents as live musicians are a thing to applaud. On the other hand, that's more evidence that on their studio albums had a bad habit at this point of time of emphasising quantity over quality.

 Unfold the Future by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.88 | 604 ratings

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Unfold the Future
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Weighing in at over 140 minutes, Unfold the Future is the longest of The Flower Kings' albums, and the third of their two- hour-plus monstrosities alongside Stardust We Are, Flower Power, and the subsequent Paradox Hotel. Later 2CD releases from them have either explicitly designated the second disc as bonus tracks or not used the entire running span of the CDs - the Kings perhaps belatedly have realised that 90 or so minutes of very high-quality music is more satisfying than over 2 hours of music which is a mixture of great moments and weaker ones.

Certainly, after two somewhat tighter releases (Space Revolver and The Rainmaker), one might have reason to worry that Roine Stolt and his buddies had once again decided to just stop editing and throw every musical idea they had into the album until they had once again filled two CDs to bursting point. Certainly, the somewhat repetitive opening epic The Truth Will Set You Free gives reason to be concerned; there's various fun musical sections in there, but they keep looping around to an underwhelming chorus and it feels like the song's cannibalised a bunch of different compositions solely for the sake of padding it out so this album can have its super-long epic.

Unfortunately, things don't pick up once it's over. Roine seems to have decided to include more lyrics and vocals - a problem since they seem particularly weak this time around - but, more fatally, the music as a whole seems rather directionless and meandering. It's pretty enough, but it feels like an exercise in Flower Kings-by-numbers, jamming away with one eye on the clock until the two CDs are filled to try and pander to the expectations established by Stardust We Are and Flower Power. I miss The Rainmaker, and the additional focus that album had, already - and, for that matter, I miss the band's sense of fun, since the more whimsical moments their pre-Rainmaker work was notable for seem to be absent from this.

 By Royal Decree by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.94 | 100 ratings

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By Royal Decree
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

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.

 By Royal Decree by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.94 | 100 ratings

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By Royal Decree
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by ComaEcliptic

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 Kevin Sloan but just as gorgeous as always. The production and clarity of this album is impressive. It's evident that this was recorded in a big studio. The format of this album is balanced, with plenty of great material on both discs, making for an effortless listening experience. The tone of this album is reminiscent of their previous works, including Stardust We Are, Retropolis, and Unfold The Future. With this balance of old and new components to the sound of this well-structured album, it's clear that this album is deserving of a higher rating than their previous two albums. The album comes as a digipack, digital download, or vinyl for varied formats for different listeners who want different listening experiences. This album also features the lineup of the previous two albums while welcoming back old members, Michael Stolt and Hasse Brunniuson. The album features guest musicians Jonas Lindberg on bass (Jonas Lindberg and the Other Side), Rob Townsend on Saxophones (Steve Hackett), Aliaksandr Yasinski on Accordion, and Jannica Lund on Backing Vocals. When comparing, Waiting For Miracles and Islands to this album, it breaks out of that safety that Roine and the rest of the band forced themselves into. I can break down the "safety" of both Waiting and Islands into one word, typical. Waiting For Miracles was way more typical Flower Kings than Islands was, but By Royal Decree was very different from both albums. With the new release, you get less predictable sounds and songwriting from the band, mixed with good production, well-honed technique, and a warm atmospheric tone throughout the record. Opening with The Great Pretender was a good choice. For me, it took a while to love the track, but it grew after hearing it over and over. Ending the first CD with Revolution was also an intelligent decision, giving callbacks from the entire first disc and closing it off. I would've preferred it if the whole album ended with Revolution, but that's fine. To open the second disc, you get Time The Great Healer, similar in structure and emotion to The Great Pretender. Both tracks share similar themes but are distinctively different, so it doesn't seem like a copy track or reprise. At the end of the second disc, we have Funeral Pyres, a nice-sounding, warm track that seems like it could've been on Desolation Rose. All of these tracks have moments of brilliance, but the two tracks that stand out the most to me are A Million Stars and World Gone Crazy. Both songs are almost complete opposites; World Gone Crazy is a bombastic and fast song with solos, complex harmonic arrangements, and plenty of dynamics. A Million Stars is calm and slow, has gorgeous soft harmonies, and a tame atmosphere. This combating dynamic between both songs amplifies the purity of this double album. The same can be said of The Darkness in You and The Soldier opposite, but their combating themes work to make this album very dynamic. This album has unpredictable songs, such as Blinded, We Can Make It Work, and Moth. Blinded almost have a Steely Dan kind of jazz-rock tonality to Roine's guitar chords and tone of the guitar. We Can Make it Work is reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And lastly, Moth is a total return to form, returning to the era of Stardust We Are. Of course, there are also your typical Flower Kings tracks, like The Big Funk and Open Your Heart. However, even with these standard-sounding songs, they fit like puzzle pieces in this very different-sounding album. The remaining tracks I am yet to discuss are Peacock On Parade, Letter, Evolution, Silent Ways, and Shrine. All of these fit the typical sound of The Flower Kings and yet don't at the same time. Peacock On Parade is a warm but complicated piece with plenty of dynamics, vocal harmonies, and complex instrumental arrangements. Letter is a short, quirky, weird little vocal track with bizarre instrumental passages, very atypical of this band, yet genius. Evolution is a big instrumental song with very well-written arrangements by Roine and Zach. Silent Ways is a song in which Hasse takes over lead vocals and has an easy time with them. This song is also gentle and recalls a bunch of those aspects of "Islands" in that it has that same innocence and gentleness. Shrine is an instrumental, one-minute, pleasant piano piece by Zach Kamins; enough said. So overall, I have zero complaints; objectively speaking, this album is a masterpiece in the band's discography. I suppose the only thing keeping it at the bottom of the top three is... it's just not FlowerPower or Stardust We Are. However, it is a fantastic album by The Flower Kings, and with many remasters on the way, it's hard not to get excited.

5 stars / essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

 Banks of Eden by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.06 | 870 ratings

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Banks of Eden
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

4 stars I have been a good fan of The Flower Kings for some time now, obviously. So listening to more of their albums is always a special treat for me. It's like a goody bag filled with great songs and great sounds. I have not found any album of their's which I haven't enjoyed. This album is no different, heck this may be a contender for their best. So let's dive in what I really love about this album.

I have to say that they just sound super happy to be playing on this one, moreso than their past records. After all this is their comeback record after a bit of a hiatus, and you can hear their excitement of coming back after so long. The album is also pretty accessible, in terms of length, not sound unless you are a Prog fan, but this is probably their shortest album they have done yet, only being 54 minutes. This gives it an edge ahead of the other albums, since it can be listened to without the need to possibly pause it if you have work or chores. More often than not I do have stuff to do, so being able to hear this album in it's glory without stopping is a super special treat. It's rather short, but it doesn't waste any seconds, each song are their own distinct masterful works of art, from the lustrous Numbers, to the thought provoking For Those About To Drown, each song fills a unique roll on the album that should never be underestimated or under appreciated. It also feels like they are truly embracing a bit more of the rock side of Prog rock more in this record than that of their previous. While others felt like symphonies, here it sounds a bit more rock like. Of course keeping the symphonic sounds alive, but they clearly focus more on guitars and loud, hard rock instrumentals than symphonic ones, and they are very enjoyable.

I do admit though, I kinda like the hour or two hour long albums though honestly. Something about them just had a certain charm to them, and I kinda get a little homesick listening to this album. As much as I praise the accessible time length and the rock like sound, it makes this album feel like a fish out of water compared to albums like Retropolis and or Stardust We Are. It's a double edged sword for this album. It also definitely feels like a comeback record where you can tell they sort of do not really know much about what they are doing. It's a concept record, yet I do not feel like the concept goes to a place where I can be as invested to the lyrics and words as I am to the instrumentation, which is really off putting because I love both the lyrics and instrumentation to any and all Flower Kings records, but this one not so much, which makes it feel rather out of place in their discography.

This is a great album. It's beautifully made and feels like a nice starting point to anyone who wants to get into The Flower Kings, however it definitely feels out of place in their discography to me and makes me a bit sad due to that, like this is a great record, maybe their best in terms of sound and instrumentation, but it definitely doesn't feel right at home for me.

 Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003 by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Live, 2003
4.41 | 200 ratings

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Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

5 stars I have for a long while felt admiration for The Flower Kings and their music. They are one of if not the best Modern day progressive rock band in the modern day with their eccentric uses of rock music and symphonic, almost classical like music. Their albums have always been a source of drive for me this year, and so far I have heard 6 of their studio albums, and they were all spectacular, if not really interesting and idiosyncratic. They are so joyful in how they play, especially with their best elements, their suites. A lot of their albums have these 20+ minute epics that are as magical as the rest of the songs on the albums. They clearly show the magic the band breeds out with their songs, and their voluminous form of playing and experimentation. They clearly love making them with them happening so much. So this had me thinking on what could make them even better than their already epic nature on their studio releases. The obvious answer is them being played live in a concert, after all classical suites have been a good source for concert halls, and that is no different for other progressive rock bands, so I was very excited before hearing this live album, and my god is it good.

When I say good, I mean good. Every track here is played at a very perfect quality to where I'd say they are just as enjoyable as their studio counterparts. Even moreso, they feel like they are having a great time while playing, especially with songs like The Truth Will Set You Free, Humanizzimo, and Stardust We Are. Their playing sounds energetic, even on the slower parts, and Roine Stolt's vocals are so beautiful and filled with passion I cannot help but fall in love with them. Speaking of Roine Stolt, I love how they played on of his songs on one of his old albums, while I haven't checked out any of his works, this album gets me interested in checking them out. I should probably add that they are called epics for a reason, because my god are they epic. They just have such a giant and bombastic sound to them, almost like the band has become an orchestra, even though they are just 5 guys. The beginnings to these songs pump you up so good (Jesus that sounds wrong) and the ends give you such an amazing climatic finish, they are just too beautiful to be under appreciated. I especially like The Truth With Set You Free, this 31 minute suite is such a great way at starting this amazing live performance since it showcases perfectly how the band can come together and make something so fully formed and realized. It is honestly some of the best progressive, if not music in general I have ever heard.

Now there are some critiques. For one, the tracks are long. Personally I really love these long tracks but I can understand how they could be exhausting to some, especially when they happen one after another. The next big suite after another can get tiring, heck sometimes I feel a little worn out after hearing so many during my day. Another thing is that it's not really for everyone. This goes with most progressive rock or heck most alternative music in general but this feels a bit more skewed in favor of more experienced progressive fans who has heard stuff similar to this before but less ginormous in scale, and moreover, this is 2 hours long, which isn't a lot, god knows there are albums longer, but still it's fairly long for even a live album, which can become a bit of a detriment to anyone really, but these are very minor issues that don't out way this amazing album.

I'll just say, this is a masterpiece. The suites are so epic and beautiful, the band sounds so energetic and lively, and best of all it doesn't waste your time, but it has a bit of a weak replay value due to how long it is and since suites can get a little tiring, but this is still incredible and I highly recommend checking it out.

 The Rainmaker by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.50 | 502 ratings

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The Rainmaker
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars For their prior albums the Flower Kings had made a name for themselves with exuberantly over-the-top, playfully whimsical prog rock with a wide range of influences from the 1970s prog wave, but on The Rainmaker they end up delivering something a little different. That might explain the somewhat mixed ratings for the album: it's a fairly subdued affair, and for a lot of listeners "subdued" really isn't the point when you listen to a Flower Kings album.

For me, though, it's great to hear them take a tighter, more disciplined approach to their songwriting, showing a bit more restraint and focus than typical. This inevitably leads to a narrowing of their musical style - the centre of gravity here seems to be reminiscent of early Yes (say, around the time of The Yes Album), with some strong Genesis influences. That said, there's a few departures from this - the final section of Elaine ends up going in a jazz fusion direction for instance - but they're a bit more carefully rationed than is typical for a Flower Kings album. All this is in aid of establishing a rich nocturnal atmosphere - adeptly captured on the album cover - which is in contrast to the bright psychedelic colours of previous albums. This is a Flower Kings album which goes great with late night listening, in particular.

I'm probably rather out of step with most Flower Kings fans in terms of ranking this more highly than any of their previous studio albums, but I really think the lack of creative restraint in their previous work had been their Achilles heel. Sure, it was flashy and attention-grabbing, but the results ended up being somewhat hit and miss. Here there's less energy spent trying to show off all the different styles they can play in at once and more of an effort to present a cohesive album, and it really pays off.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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