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The Flower Kings - The Rainmaker CD (album) cover

THE RAINMAKER

The Flower Kings

 

Symphonic Prog

3.47 | 486 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

lukretio
4 stars "The Rainmaker", album number six for The Flower Kings, is actually the first record I ever bought from the Swedes. For this reason, it holds a special place in my heart, which may rose-tint somewhat my evaluation of the album. The LP was recorded by the same line-up that was behind the previous record "Space Revolver", with Jonas Reingold consolidating his position as the new bassist of the band, following the departure of Michael Stolt in 2000. "The Rainmaker" is also the last album with Jaime Salazar on drums, inaugurating a sort of revolving doors situation for the drum spot in the band (with four different drummers alternating across the subsequent eight albums).

"The Rainmaker" is a simpler, more song-based album compared to the previous releases of the band. It breaks the tradition of long multi-part epics that the band had included in their previous three LPs, and instead presents 11 stand-alone tracks that do not follow any specific overarching theme, neither lyrically nor musically. This quest for simplicity does not only involve the length and thematic connection between songs, but also their structure and melodic accessibility. The template for the Kings' sound remains the classic prog rock of the 1970s (Yes, ELP, Genesis, King Crimson), but many of the songs on "The Rainmaker" are unashamedly chorus-based, with a structure that only slightly complicates the standard verse/chorus alternation of straight pop/rock music, typically with the insertion of more or less lengthy instrumental detours in the middle of a song. The vocal melodies are also very accessible and immediate, transforming pieces like "Last Minute on Earth", "City of Angels" and "Serious Dreamers" in irresistible sing-along pieces.

The album also marks the turn towards a slightly edgier and more metallic sound that will accompany the band through much of the rest of their career. The riff of opener "Last Minute on Earth" is almost metal. This turn towards a more metallic and simpler sound will perhaps disappoint prog purists, which may reflect the slightly lower average rating of this record on ProgArchives compared to the rest of the Kings' discography. Personally, I find a few of the tracks on "The Rainmaker" to be some of the best song material released by the Swedes throughout their career, but, again, I may have my rose-tint glasses on here.

Objectively, the album's quality is not completely homogeneous. There are some fantastic tracks, but there are also weaker pieces that veer at best towards the anonymous and at worst towards the boring. Among the highlights of the record, I would include: "Last Minute on Earth", with its beautiful combination of melancholy, sinister riffs and energizing musical dexterity; the mellower, jazzy ballad "World Without a Heart"; the upbeat piece "City of Angels", which sports an incredibly catchy chorus in its coda; the often overlooked "Elaine", a beautiful small piece with sensitive lyrics and a nice sax solo; and "Serious Dreamers", a great funky track with another killer chorus. The rest of the album is somewhat weaker. "Road to Sanctuary" is a whimsical piece that tries a bit too hard to be quirky and loses sight of actually being a good song. "The Rainmaker" is a 6-minute instrumental piece based on a bolero where nothing much happens and in the middle of which I usually tend to snooze. "Sword of God" is a little Deep Purple-like rocker which is pleasant but sounds a tad too derivative.

Despite some hits and misses, "The Rainmaker" is one of those The Flower Kings albums that I really never get tired of. I can put this on and listen to it on repeat for days, singing along the great choruses of its songs. It is a very immediate record, which may make one feel that it is "less prog" than many of the other Kings' records. This might as well be true, but it does not diminish one bit my enjoyment of this album.

lukretio | 4/5 |

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