Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

THE FLOWER KINGS

Symphonic Prog • Sweden


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Flower Kings picture
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

See also:...
read more

THE FLOWER KINGS forum topics / tours, shows & news


THE FLOWER KINGS forum topics Create a topic now
THE FLOWER KINGS tours, shows & news Post an entries now

THE FLOWER KINGS Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Show all THE FLOWER KINGS videos (4) | Search and add more videos to THE FLOWER KINGS

Buy THE FLOWER KINGS Music



More places to buy THE FLOWER KINGS music online

THE FLOWER KINGS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.03 | 622 ratings
Back In The World Of Adventures
1995
3.75 | 541 ratings
Retropolis
1996
3.92 | 620 ratings
Stardust We Are
1997
3.95 | 531 ratings
Flower Power
1999
3.86 | 567 ratings
Space Revolver
2000
3.47 | 466 ratings
The Rainmaker
2001
3.89 | 562 ratings
Unfold the Future
2002
3.50 | 498 ratings
Adam & Eve
2004
3.73 | 503 ratings
Paradox Hotel
2006
3.81 | 569 ratings
The Sum Of No Evil
2007
4.05 | 826 ratings
Banks of Eden
2012
3.98 | 607 ratings
Desolation Rose
2013
3.81 | 211 ratings
Waiting For Miracles
2019
5.00 | 1 ratings
Islands
2020

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

3.82 | 132 ratings
Alive on Planet Earth
2000
4.37 | 179 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003
2003
3.48 | 33 ratings
Carpe Diem
2008
4.10 | 75 ratings
Tour Kaputt
2011

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

4.14 | 129 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003
2003
3.75 | 98 ratings
Instant Delivery
2006
4.24 | 53 ratings
Tour Kaputt
2011

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

3.45 | 50 ratings
Scanning The Greenhouse
1998
3.96 | 7 ratings
Two In One
2006
3.25 | 76 ratings
The Road Back Home
2007
4.79 | 19 ratings
A Kingdom of Colours
2017
4.68 | 19 ratings
A Kingdom of Colours II
2018

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

3.75 | 8 ratings
Edition Limitee Quebec 1998
1998
4.33 | 6 ratings
The Flower Kings
1999
2.88 | 17 ratings
Fanclub CD 2000
2000
3.07 | 38 ratings
The Rainmaker (Limited Edition)
2001
3.73 | 27 ratings
Live in New York - Official Bootleg
2002
3.90 | 26 ratings
The Fanclub CD 2002 - A Collection Of Flower Kings Related Music
2002
2.23 | 37 ratings
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid!!!
2004
2.44 | 13 ratings
Fanclub CD 2004
2004
2.93 | 28 ratings
Fanclub CD 2005 - Harvest
2005
3.69 | 43 ratings
BrimStoned In Europe
2005

THE FLOWER KINGS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Islands by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2020
5.00 | 1 ratings

BUY
Islands
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

— First review of this album —
5 stars Oh, this is the good shtuff...

The new 93-minute album "Islands" from The Flower Kings is genuinely a pleasant surprise. With only three members (Stolt, Froberg, Reingold) from the classic lineup of 20 years ago, they manage to put together a very solid album of symphonic prog with similitudes to their older catalog. Rob Townsend's saxophone touches here and there also hearken back to the days when Ulf Wallander made special guest appearances with some great sax lines. Nice.

I never cease to be amazed at the creativity that flows out of Stolt's and the rest of the band's heads. They just released the very good "Waiting For Miracles" a year ago! (85 minutes long, no less) And I honestly can't identify any songs here that they could have left off the album in order to get it down to an 80-minute single disc package, even if they wanted to.

Oh, and the package - just beautiful, as usual. A triple gatefold case with some iconic Roger Dean artwork to grace the cover. Complete lyrics and multiple pics of the band members are included in the booklet. They do this every time! Amazing,

As Roine notes in the booklet, the theme of the album deals with isolation, loss, and the fear of being disconnected...inspired by the current world pandemic, of course. No long songs here, as there usually are on a TFK album. He also notes that all 21 songs are "connected with themes that weave in and out." He even calls it a "cinematic, colorful...musical journey." Hate to paraphrase like this, but that sort of nails it!

The band members are the same as appeared on the last album, and this seems to be the new lineup. I thought I would miss Tomas Bodin's unique keyboards more, but newcomer Zach Kamins is fantastic, and actually sounds a lot like Bodin in places. How many drummers has the band had over the years? At least five, maybe six? Mirkko DeMaio might be the best one they've had since Zoltan Csorsz. Reingold does his usual thing on the Rickenbacker and fretless bass guitars, making for one great rhythm section. Some great solos from Stolt.

Ah...this really is the good shtuff, folks. 4-1/2 conservative stars for this album from one of my favorite bands.

 Banks of Eden by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.05 | 826 ratings

BUY
Banks of Eden
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars Album #11 for the Flower Kings came in a particularly strong period for progressive rock, 2011-13, with many bands releasing some of their strongest, even best albums. 'Banks of Eden' also marked a return for the band after some five years of inactivity, in terms of studio releases, and is a gracefully successful achievement for the band.

This is a classic-sounding TFK album, and that surely denotes symphonic progressive rock with lush instrumental intros, mesmerizing vocal harmonies, abstract lyrics that could be the object of deciphering for hours, lengthy and bluesy guitar solos, pounding bass, hectic drumming, and tremendous Genesis-inspired keyboard sections, dreamy passages, and unexpected twists all along the way ' everything that you get from the opening track 'Numbers', the 25-minute goliath track, one that ranks as high as other classics by the Flower Kings, like 'Stardust We Are', 'Love Supreme', and 'The Truth Will Set You Free'.

'For the Love of God' is an uplifting and melodic track, it depicts perfectly the more pastoral side of the band that has little hints of Camel or Yes.

'Pandemonium' is among the highlights of the album, a song where every note works perfectly and not a single second sounds wasted. Built around Stolt's acrobatic guitar playing, the peculiar verses he sings through the vocoder, the catchy chorus and Bodin scratching the moog are the things that make this a really special track.

'For Those About to Drown' is another enjoyable piece of Flowery brilliance, very symphonic and playful, a bit more light-weight compared to the rest of the album but it still fits really good and helps build the bigger picture.

'Rising the Imperial' was written by Jonas Reingold, and here the listener is presented with the main theme that was previously used on 'Numbers', a truly magnificent couple of lines that do the magic; It is a worthy ending to a stunning album that sounds well organized, concentrated, yet it is adventurous and peculiar like everything this band delivers.

This certainly ranks very high among my most favorite albums by the band, it is a beautiful example of modern symphonic rock, a bit safer than some of the records they put out before it but so well executed that it is hard to neglect this as an unworthy of praise!

 Paradox Hotel by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.73 | 503 ratings

BUY
Paradox Hotel
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

5 stars Well, the Flower Kings have been one of my favorite bands for about 22 years now, yet I've never felt that they produced a solid 5-star cd before this one. Over the years, they've successfully integrated 70's-style prog along with the occasional jazz fusion sequence, original and interesting compositions and arrangements, catchy refrains - and it's all been done with some of the best musicians in all of rock. "Paradox Hotel" showcases their talents like no other recording before it....and it undoubtedly deserves 5 stars!

This is perhaps their most Yessy-sounding cd; and with harmonies and lyrics that frequently intone "heaven", "God" and even the word "roundabout", the Yes comparisons are pretty hard to ignore. (See "Hit Me With a Hit", "Minor Giant Steps", "Man of the World", and the last 3 minutes of "End on a High Note" in particular.) Not as much of the ELP or Crimson sound this time around. In fact, if anything there's a little more "pop" bent to this cd....but don't read that as "commercial". I mean, this IS the Flower Kings, so you still get a good dose of odd meters, polyphony, complex arrangements and clever ideas.

This is just a very even album for them, with more songs in the shorter range (that is, 5 or 6 minutes!), and they just flow together and transition effortlessly. The introspective and compassionate lyrics continue to augment the great melodies. Every song is unique and well-crafted. I echo everyone else: "How do they do it year after year?"

Perhaps what struck me most on this cd is how much they sound like a BAND - not just a bunch of virtuosos from Sweden pieced together to play Stolt's music. And virtuosos they are! Jonas Reingold is still my favorite bass player these days, alternating between thick Rickenbacker and gentle fretless bass. Tomas Bodin showcases the grand piano much more on this album, but there's also plenty of organ, mellotron, and other assorted synths and sound effects. He is GREAT on this cd, and (again) probably my favorite keyboard player since Tony Banks. And Roine Stolt is simply incomparable: inventive solos and riffs, clever modulations, and sweet sounding slides - check out his slide guitar on the 21-minute album opener "Monsters and Men". Sublime. Roine Stolt is a musical genius, and clearly in a class by himself.

New drummer Marcus Liliequist is excellent as well; perhaps not quite as jazzy as former TFK stickman Zoltan Czorsz, but he nimbly leads the group through the 4-3-4-2 time changes on "Unorthodox Dancing Lesson", and sounds perfect for the classic Flower Kings sound. And Hasse Froberg is in great voice on this cd, writes one excellent song himself, and fills in with lots of cool rhythm guitar.

I've seen others compare this album favorably to Stardust We Are and Flower Power. But I sense that Stolt and company tried to touch on themes or sounds that conjure up almost ALL of the TFK back catalog: e.g., ping-pong balls (Retropolis); monsters (Space Revolver, Adam & Eve); the troubled woman ("Elaine" from Rainmaker), underdogs, freedom, dancing, and so on. The album begins and ends with some mission control sound clips from around 1970, perhaps to establish the "hotel as microcosm of Earth" metaphor? And you can still hear the mischievous Scandinavian gnome laughing in various spots throughout the album (a TFK staple). The only thing I kind of miss is the sax playing that Ulf Wallander used to do on the earlier TFK cds. But other than that, this is pure prog heaven courtesy of the Flower Kings.

HIGHLY, Highly, highly recommended. Paradox Hotel: Check in....and check it out.

 Live in New York - Official Bootleg by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2002
3.73 | 27 ratings

BUY
Live in New York - Official Bootleg
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Squire Jaco

3 stars I hate to do this to one of my favorite bands, but this ain't the best of these guys.

Featuring the line-up of Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin, Hasse Froberg, Jonas Reingold and Zoltan Czorsz, this certainly has a very live, jam-band type of feel to it, complete with minor sound adjustments being called out at the beginning of the first song. The music and the sound quality are pretty good throughout, with the very big (for me) exception being that the bass is almost indiscernible. That's a mortal sin when you have one of the very finest bass guitar virtuosos in all of rock!

The original 60-minute studio version of "Garden of Dreams" from their Flower Power album was pure ecstasy. This live version is 47 minutes of various sections of the suite, played in different order, and filled with a lot of jamming. I like it - not as much as the original (with Jaime Salazar on drums and Michael Stolt on bass, by the way), but there's enough new music on this piece that it makes the purchase of the cd worthwhile.

"In The Eyes of the World" is reproduced almost exactly as per the studio version, with very nice harmonies. Tracks 3 and 4 ("drum and bass solos") are, unfortunately, a waste of ten minutes of disc space, as one of the best rhythm sections in all of rock fails miserably here to move me. What a letdown. (Dang! I just wish they would have engineered that rich Rickenbacker bass more clearly!)

Another great job with "I Am The Sun", again pretty faithful to the studio version. And this closing track ends with Roine introducing the members of the band in his best Swedish-inflected English, which is kind of neat to hear.

This is certainly not an ideal sampling of The Flower Kings' best work; but for the TFK completist, this is a nice addition of some alternative takes to round out your collection. You get over 65 minutes of music even if you skip tracks 3 and 4. Eh...

 Banks of Eden by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.05 | 826 ratings

BUY
Banks of Eden
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

5 stars 𝗦𝘆𝗺𝗽𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗰 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗴 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗻

The Flower Kings seem to never fail when it comes down to writing a solid record, with shorter more single based songs, and large and bombastic, symphonic and emotional epics. This swedish symphonic progressive rock band never fails to bring up some of their best work to the forefront. The album opens with a 25 minute masterpiece titled 'Numbers' which follows the more Supper's Ready format, recalling moments in the song and making a soft and warm epic that is constructed to the absolute tee. The lyrics on the epic are also very well written, and follow the mood of the track. 'For The Love Of Gold' follows a bit more of a soft rock and Camel format, something that the band doesn't do often but always works given their influences, the song also has a very swift and emotional keyboard solo from Tomas Bodin. As for the next track 'Pandemonium', this song also follows a bit more in the symphonic sound with more of the accessibility of the previous track, soaring keyboards and guitar soundscapes. 'For Those About To Drown' is very similar to the previous two tracks after 'Numbers'. The other standout track from this great album is the final piece 'Rising The Imperial', a very soft song that follows the themes off 'Numbers' with some more dramatic soft rock bits and a very emotional guitar solo from Roine Stolt.

The Flower Kings usually never release a bad record (Adam and Eve was close but it was still good), and this is one of those extraordinary releases by the band. This definitely is a good follow up album coming off the back of releasing The Sum Of No Evil in 2007. So the band nails another album in the 2000s, well done Roine, Tomas, Jonas, Felix, and Hasse.

 Waiting For Miracles by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 211 ratings

BUY
Waiting For Miracles
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

4 stars 𝗔 𝗦𝗮𝗳𝗲 𝗙𝗹𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗞𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝗔𝗹𝗯𝘂𝗺

The closest thing to a safe Flower Kings album for sure, I do really like this album but it is way more (I know I'm using this word a lot) safe than any other Flower Kings album. The vocals are very good, the production is great, but the songs are much shorter, there are no real complex instrumental passages, and there are no epics. Even the other safe album by the band (The Rainmaker) has an epic (Road To Sanctuary). There are a few songs that sound like some of their older material, such as "We Were Always Here" which reminds me of material off Stardust We Are, and "Sleep With The Enemy" sounds like a piece off "Desolation Rose". There are some songs that are quite unique, that I actually find are some of my favourites in their catalogue. Songs like "Spirals", "We Were Always Here", and "The Bridge" are their more unique, yet amazing, some of my favourite songs by the band. Anyways, this album is really good but it's not as experimental as any of their other albums, and it's much more safe. Still strong but just not up to par with some of their best material.

 Stardust We Are by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.92 | 620 ratings

BUY
Stardust We Are
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Zoltanxvamos

5 stars Stardust We Are, the masterpiece by The Flower Kings and their best album to date. How many prog albums can compete with this? Not many. If it were my choice, I'd remove In The Court Of The Crimson King and replace it with this absolute masterpiece of a prog album. This deserves so much more praise than it's getting. This is easily a top 20 best prog album of all time, it's got all the right pieces, it's got the longer songs, it's got short interludes, it's got a perfect epic, it's got atmosphere and structure and the songs are just expertly written and just so well structured. To put this album even outside the top 250 is a total crime. Everyone plays at an unbelievable calibre, Jamie Salazar on drums (probably the best drummer in Prog), Roine Stolt, a great guitarist and songwriter, Hasse Fröiberg, a good singer and great guitarist, Tomas Bodin, Come on... Tomas Bodin is easily the most underrated keyboard player in prog now. Hasse Bruniusson does his great stuff with percussion and of course Ulf Wallander is an absolutely amazing Brass player. Do I really need to continue speaking? Actually I will, anything to make sure my point gets across. I'd put this in the top 5 best prog albums of all time, it's an absolute masterpiece from start to finish. Many think that The Flower Kings have an issue with Quantity over Quality, not on this album. Its Quantity and that Quantity has pure Quality. I want to explain every song on this album and give my review on every song, so why not I do that, right here right now?

In The Eyes Of The World | A powerful opener, staggering and it knocks you down in the first 5 seconds. It's just a brilliantly written song by an excellent band. Need I actually go on?

A Room With A Few | Tomas Bodin's little noodle here, its emotional and it's just grabbing. It's an intoxicating experience from beginning to end and it works as a perfect interlude.

Just This Once | Some jazz, some soft bits, and some fusion licks. Can't get much better than this, it's got emotion, it's got spirit, and it's just a hard hitting piece by the band. Period.

Church Of Your Heart | Church Organs, Harmonies, Mellotrons, Large Soundscapes, seriously doesn't get better than this. This is prog to the absolute max, how people are turned off by this is totally beyond me.

Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar | A Very Steve Hackett piece, nice nylon guitars, great chords and again, a brilliant interlude.

The Man Who Walked With Kings | Also a brilliant piece, I... am running out of things to say but seriously, this is great.

Circus Brimstone | Very quirky, got a brilliant turn to things. It switches gears from the slower pieces with a slow atmospheric structure. It shows that this band isn't scared of being a bit more experimental. Again... do I really need to explain why this is great? Do I really?

Crying Clown | A very weird and quirky interlude yet again, but its brilliant in it's own way and it fits the album.

Compassion | The track with two, a 4 minute song with a hidden track in it? Sign me up, this really is quite a way to end off the first disc, with two songs in one. Both are very weird and very atmospheric, and both share their rightful spot on this album.

First disc had been review and what have we learned? The first disc shows the right stuff for being a perfect prog album. So shall we continue to the next disc? I think it's best I say... we will and we are going to continue.

Pipes Of Piece | An Interlude with a reprise of the last song, which really doesn't reprise.. what's the word for this? Doesn't matter, this is still a great interlude, well done Tomas Bodin, your writing here is amazing.

The End Of Innocence | A bit of a longer piece, but this album has a bunch of long songs, this one is a bit boring but it's still good. It's probably the weakest song on the album, despite it being a slow and more melodic piece, it just suffers.

The Merrygoround | A faster and more upbeat piece and a big improvement over the previous, surprisingly, this album doesn't have very many duds, just the one. This song is surely no dud, it's got everyone playing to the max and it shows once again they aren't after to take a risk and go into quirky territory.

Don Of The Universe | What an amazing piece, an instrumental with Sax, powerful guitars and just a wall of atmosphere and emotion. Excellent soloing from all on this song, well written and just perfect in the end.

A Day At The Mall | Another interlude and it's great once again. I can't say much about this one, it's another interlude.

Different People | The song rock attempt on this album, it's good and it's deserves a spot on this work by The Flower Kings. Sure it's not the best song on the album but it's still great.

Kingdom Of Lies | This is one of the best song on the album, along with the opener, A Room With A View and Church Of Your Heart. This has emotion and atmosphere, structure and a well deserved spot on this album.

If 28 | Yet another interlude, great again but it's an interlude... how much can I say about it?

Ghost and the Red Cloud | The Last song on the album and yet the album isn't over yet, even though this could be a good way to end the album... it's not over here.

Hotel Nirvana | This seriously is the best interlude on the album, it's got atmosphere, its haunting, it's dark and its gorgeous... it's the perfect way to open for the masterpiece on the album.

Stardust We Are | The perfect prog epic is what they want to accomplish, and that's what they accomplished. Roine, is this really only close to divine? Sorry Roine, but this is divine. This is perfection, Flower Kings perfection. Everything about this is just perfect, it has its references, and it has absolutely no filler. Need I say that this album is perfect? In fact I will, this album is Perfect. Even if it has weaker songs, it's still perfect.

Seriously, Progarchives, I'm on my knees here begging, this deserves a spot at the top. This is a prog rock masterpiece unlike any other. There will never be an album that deserves a spot nearly as much as this one.

Bottom line? This is the best prog album of the last 25 years.

 Waiting For Miracles by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 211 ratings

BUY
Waiting For Miracles
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Back with the first Flower Kings album in six years, one immediately notes that long-time keyboard player Tomas Bodin is no longer with the band. He was an original member of the band, playing on the debut 'Back In The World of Adventures' back in 1995, and every release since, so I was very surprised to see him missing as he has been a key part of the sound since the beginning. This led me to do some quick checking of personnel and I was pleased to see other long-time members Hasse Fröberg (vocals) and Jonas Reingold (bass) still there alongside Roine Stolt (guitars, keyboards, ukulele, vocals). They have now been joined by Zach Kamins (keyboards, glockenspiel, guitar, Theremin, harmonium) and drummer Mirko DeMaio.

The Flower Kings will always have a special place in my affections, as I still remember being sent the solo album by the ex-Kaipa guitarist almost 30 years ago now, and the impact it had on me, never thinking it would lead to a full band. In addition, it was the first concert I ever took my youngest daughter to (and the photo of her at that gig, taken by the official tour photographer, appears at the end of Volume 3 of The Progressive Underground). I absolutely adore their music, and always look forward to each album, but always with just a hint of doubt. The reason for this is that Roine likes long songs and long albums (this one is well over 80 minutes in length), and it doesn't always work. There are times in the past where I have bemoaned the lack of an outside set of ears and the willingness to cull minutes of music from a song and make it more direct. However, the more recent albums have seen a much more focussed approach (even if no shorter), so what is this like?

Over recent years Roine has been working with other musicians and solo, and this is the first official new Flower Kings album since 2013's, 'Desolation Rose', with a new keyboard player to boot (I think there have been six or seven drummers over the years so they can obviously survive those changes). But, with Roine obviously very much in control, Hasse Fröberg still in fine voice and Reingold playing his normal set of different basses, adding the right sound where he needs to, I really shouldn't have worried. This is classic Flower Kings, as if they had never been away and as if Bodin was still there. Harmony vocals, lush sounds, layering of instruments, plenty of hooks and plenty of time for musicians to extend themselves without ever moving too far into the area of proving just how clever they are, this is an album any proghead will sit back with and smile.

The first time I listened to this I played it on headphones (always best with these guys I find) and just drifted along on a progressive wave, thoroughly enjoying the experience and never once wondering why they yet again weren't using an editor to cut back on their more over the top moments. Delicate when they need to be, rocky when the time is right, The Flower Kings are back with a wonderful release which is going to make them new friends with the old ones more than happy. Let's just hope we don't have to wait so long for the next one.

 Flower Power by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.95 | 531 ratings

BUY
Flower Power
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars The Flower Kings are definitely one of the more interesting retro prog bands out there for their ability to expertly craft instrumental sections that take the listener on a journey with amazingly vivid imagery being painted with each sweeping section of music, creating some truly beautiful music. Even so, I've got to say that this album is entirely baffling to me, given how this album is over 2 hours long, yet almost entirely enjoyable from front to back, despite the fact that I couldn't really see a 2 hour long symphonic prog album being anything other than an exhausting experience. What this album does so well in order to make it as enjoyable as it is is how the songwriting has once again been refined and consistency feels far more focused upon, fixing the biggest flaw I found Stardust We Are had, as this album feels as if the majority of the tracks actually have a place.

The album is split into 2 halves, with the first half primarily being taken up by the hour long epic, Garden of Dreams, a piece as grandiose as one would expect from an hour long prog epic, and definitely the most impressive, ambitious song here, even if it can feel a bit inconsistent at points. The first 10 minutes or so that include Dawn, Simple Song and Business Vamp are absolutely excellent, containing a lovely buildup into beautiful, pastoral acoustic guitar before building upon the more fantasy oriented side of their sound, exceptional synths forming the basis of this amazing sound thus far, with Roine Stolt's guitar work further contributing to the quality, being technical, but not enough to become overbearing or distracting. Despite the near perfection of this first stretch of the epic, it's really after this where things get so interesting, with a somewhat darker, more emotionally hearfelt edge to sections like All You Can Save. This is accentuated by the increase of guitar prominence, which is definitely the most emotive aspect to the band's sound overall, and is much more versatile in what imagery it can create compared to the largely fantastical sound of the keyboard. I also love how the band clearly isn't against throwing in some more fun sections into the mix to spice things up without derailing all of the momentum that's being made, as these faster, looser parts often come right before some sort of massive buildup. Of course, when I'm talking about massive buildup, I'm talking about the leadup to one of the most satisfying moments in the band's entire discography, Don't Let The D'evil In, the lush orchestrations making way for surprisingly heavy guitar work in such a perfect climax to the previous few sections' trajectory. It's absolutely how wild this section sounds without sounding entirely out of place, yet going as far as to have a defined riff and everything, sounding like another part of the 2 Judas songs on the band's first 2 albums, except even more amazingly intense through and through. What impresses me more than this is how everything manages to continue smoothly after this point despite the stark drop in intensity, falling back onto the grandiose melodies that still remind me somewhat of a pantomime.

This second half is where I feel like things begin loosing traction as well however, as while there are some really cool experiments with more ambient and understated music, it's also where the more traditional parts often lack the same kind of magic as what was found early on. While I believe this, I must also make sure to not neglect mentioning how absolutely incredible the conclusion to the song is, being so immensely powerful all across the board, the emotional vocals being nothing short of absolutely breathtaking as all elements of the band display the culmintation of the last 55 minutes nothing short of flawlessly, both making everythin beforehand that much more significant, and reeling me back in after the album began to lose me, the first of many cases in which this happens on the album as a whole. Side one also includes the great instrumental Astral Dog, which isn't anywhere near as special as what just came before, but nonetheless signifies the fact that the second half will be full of shorter, more digestable tracks.

I do personally find the second half of this album to be more or less equal to the first in terms of quality, with some clear highlights throughout. Deaf Numb and Blind starts things off very nicely with another lengthy epic, although this time only 11 minutes, but packing it with pure exellence, still having a nice balance between technicality and beauty, especially near the end where everything becomes extremely dense. I like how there is some sort of variety within the many songs here, as it is probably part of the reason why I am able to enjoy this album despite so much being seemingly against it. Psychedelic Postcard is the biggest example of this, as while it's not a big change, the trippier nature of it definitely is an interesting change from most of the album, the fuzzy sound that many elements have in plaes providing some really unique characteristics to it in the grand scheme of the band's output. I also find myself enjoying some other songs such as Corruption, with it's cool guitar sections and the same darker atmosphere underpinned by the theatrics of the project. One final song I would be remiss to neglect is the amazingly beautiful Painter that showcases the identity of the band as a whole extremely well without taking an exceedigly long time to do so.

Overall, I find it highly unnexpected that I ended up enjoying this album so thoroughly, but in the end, that's exactly what I did. I do still believe that this album could have been cut down a bit, but it's a far less egregious issue than on Stardust We Are, as the majority of this feels unlike filler. In terms of reinventing themselves, this album does literally nothing, but instead greatly refines the preexisting identity of the band to create a highly memorable, beautiful album that highlights the best aspects of prog, even if it does indulge on the excess that makes up one of its worst aspects in many cases. Definitely not the first place I'd send people when recommending this band due to its immense length, but it's definitely a great album, especially for the great Garden Of Dreams, which is almost completely worthy of its ridiculous length, although I'd cut it back by about 10 minutes.

Best tracks: Garden of Dreams, Deaf, Numb and Blind, Corruption, Painter

Weakest tracks: Power of Kindness, Hudson Rivers Siren Call 1998, Calling Home

Verdict: Despite being a 2 hour block of symphonic retro prog, I found this album to be surprisingly consistent in its engagement. If you can accept the fact that this album is needlessly excessive in many aspects and enjoy that sort of stuff, I think that you could enjoy this album quite a bit, especially for Garden of Dreams.

 Waiting For Miracles by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 211 ratings

BUY
Waiting For Miracles
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by iluvmarillion

4 stars A measure of how much I enjoyed this album is that I over generously awarded it 5 stars after I first listened to it. Now I've had more of an opportunity to let it settle in my head I realize that 4 stars is a bit more appropriate. It reverts in musical style back to the period of the band I enjoyed the most, which was that period of the early 2000's when the band made albums like Space Revolver, that featured divided themes, orchestral songs, shorter duration songs and more melodic tunes.

Two things have changed with the band. Like Jeff Lynne whose name precedes the ELO name of his band, The Flower Kings is now more a personal vision of Roine Stolt, so a great individual keyboard artist in Tomas Bodin has been shut out of the band. In a way this is a good thing as hopefully now we get to enjoy Tomas Bodin more as a solo artist and Roine is free to pursue a different direction with other musicians. Secondly, long songs that run over 20 minutes, such as Numbers, off Banks Of Eden, or Love Is The Only Answer off Sum Of No Evil, have been relegated in favor of shorter songs of no more than about 10 minutes, a trend which began with Desolation Rose. You get the same amount of music on a Flower Kings album, but the music is more cleverly spread over two CD's (thus saving any need to provide bonus material on the second CD).

The main heart of the album are the 10 songs lasting about an hour on the first CD. The opening song, House Of Cards is a quiet piano instrumental passage beginning with synthesized bird sounds and finishing with mellotron and more synthesizer. In the House Of Cards reprise which opens the second CD the piano is swapped with guitars that play the main theme with more energy. Also on CD2, Spirals, which ends with banjo, is like a rhythmic subsection of the up tempo guitar piece, Miracles For America on CD1, which opens with the organ. Steampunk on CD2 is a cacophony of synthesizers, guitars and chorus voices that retrace the main theme from Miracles For America building into a grand finish with Roine Stolt's singing. We Were Always Here on CD2 is enjoyable on it's own as an encore piece with a Latin American drum beat and some nice Roine Stolt guitar soloing, while the last song on the album, Busking At Brobank, is what it is, a short street acoustic guitar.

Back to CD1, Black Flag is a short epic of around 7 minutes which begins with acoustic guitar then builds up tension through the chorus of voice and electric guitar, has a bridge of organ and electric piano before it transposes into the main guitar theme, then slows down into acoustic guitar and ascending electric guitar before slowing down again into synthesizers and spoken voice. Vertigo is possibly the best song on the album with catchy chorus and Hans Froberg on electric guitar and singing the main theme and Jonas Reingold prominent on bass throughout. It's the guitar work on Vertigo that I felt was missing on Banks Of Eden and Sum Of No Evil. Ascending To The Stars is an orchestral piece which I think the band last attempted on Space Revolver. The strings are complemented by guitars and synthesizers with a march theme in the middle and choruses and guitars at the finish. Wicked Old Symphony is a change in pace to a dance like beat on drums and some typical Roine Stolt singing and guitars which tail away at the end. That's followed by an instrumental guitar piece in Rebel Circus and another solid Stolt song in Sleep With The Enemy. More wonderful guitar playing on the last track on the first CD, The Crowning Of Greed.

I really thought I would miss Tomas Bodin on this album, but I don't. Zach Kamins does a more than adequate job of replacing Bodin, while Mirko DeMaio is less jazzy than previous drummers but really drives the music forward with his drum fills. This album continues the trend of Desolation Rose with shorter songs and is up there with some of the best Flower Kings albums such as Space Revolver and Stardust We Are.

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

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.