Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
The Flower Kings - Paradox Hotel CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 549 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars An Album Difficult To Digest

Phew ...Having spun the CD eleven times I could finally digest the album in its entirety. Well, this is definitely one of prog albums that have taken a very long time for me to digest. It reminds me to the days when I first listened to YES "Relayer" and "Tales From Topographic Ocean" that took me a relatively long period to fully understand the music. But, the challenge I'm facing now is totally different when it was 35 years ago when not so many prog albums releases. Currently, I have a stack of CDs ready to digest as well. So I got to "conquer" this "Paradox Hotel" before I move on to another prog CD. I almost gave up at 7th spin because so far I have implemented a "policy" to enjoy prog music by spin number 8. Even when I reached 8th I still could not understand what the band is trying to do with this latest release. So I did some variations by playing CDs of Van Halen (who says that I'm only enjoying prog CDs?), Roine Stolt "Wallstreet Voodoo", The Flower Kings "Stardust We Are", Riverside "Out of Myself". I broke my rule and went ahead with another try before deciding to resell the CD. Spin number 9, nothing happen, 10 still nothing happen even though I could grab a bit.

The key is to conquer "Monsters and Men"

Since day one I spun the CD I knew the main problem: it was track number two "Monsters and Men" which presumably serves as opening track as track 1 "Check In" is basically a narration. I guess if the band did not put this "tough" song as opening, I probably could digest the music quicker. Say, instead putting track 4 "Hit Me With A Hit" as opener (track 2) I were pretty damn sure that I could nod my head right away at first spin. That's for sure. But it's not the case because the band has conceptualized the story started off with "Monsters and Men" which unfortunately offers a music that I could not understand at all. For this, I have to put all my due respect on the band's creative piece. Or, probably Bodin and Stolt tried to test our limit as prog lovers into how far we could reach the unreachable. Oh yes, this track is very very difficult to understand because in terms of structure and notes chosen, they are not something that I could easily emulate. Unpredictable - that's probably the correct term to use. It starts off with piano touch that I'm not familiar at all with the notes used followed with weird mellotron sound and marching drums. In a way it reminds me to YES's Mind Drive (but only on the marching drums, not the composition). When all instruments form the music in a flow that I could not predict, it confused me further. Even when the vocal part enters the music, I still could not understand it. When I continued to other tracks, I could see the beauty of the composition but I still got stuck with track no. 2 "Monsters and Men".

At 11th Spin ...

When I reached 11th spin, I said "Yes!" to myself as now I could fully enjoy "Monsters and Men" really well and I admire the tight composition despite no memorable melodies produced by this track. How did I conquer this track? It's basically I let my mind and my ears being totally open with no expectations at all on how the music should sound nicely to my ears. By doing so, starting from spin number 8 (I think), it grew on me and I could finally enjoy track 2 in its entirety at 11th spin. And it's true, after I could accept track 2, the rest sounded very easy to digest - nothing compares to track 2 in terms of complexity and weird melodies. Track 2 is an epic with three major movements with transitions among movements are done excellently through relatively long instrumental. As a matter of comparison, "Monsters and Men" is similar with what I experienced the first time enjoying YES "Gates of Delirium" which at that time I was not familiar at all with the melody that sounded weird to my ears.

Great Music, Great Musicianship

Once I could enjoy track two, I could then see the overall music theme that connects one track to another from disk one to disk two. The music flows wonderfully from opening to end with various styles and tempo changes. The composition and songwriting are very tight and powerful, successfully adding up the album into a cohesive whole.

I'm not gonna review on track by track basis but I need to emphasize that track number 8 "Self-Consuming Fire" is a killer! Its melody is truly wonderful. The music starts off wonderfully with Stolt and Hasse nylon string acoustic guitar after the ambient end of "Bavarian Skies". Stolt sings wholeheartedly with powerful voice while Hasse also plays percussion in addition to nylon string guitar. The opening part reminds me to STING's "The Shape of My Heart" (oops! This is not prog music, but I listen to it as well - what's wrong?) in terms of nuance but "Self-Consuming Fire" is much darker. The use of mellotron-string has enriched the dark nuance. Oh .. the music flows wonderfully in medium tempo with a bit of jazz and bluesy style. I enjoy very much when Stolt sighs "Ah ..ah ..ah ..etc.". So wonderful! The interlude part with rocking guitar solo (reminiscent of classic rock music) makes the music much powerful. Jonas Reingold plays his bass guitar dynamically. On "Mommy Leave The Light On" the vocal line is using a distorted distant vocal technique accompanied with mellotron sounds and guitar fills which reminds me to Hackett with Genesis.

Disk One concludes beautifully with "End on A High Note" (another excellent track). Disk Two material are generally much easier to digest compared to disk One. It starts off with paradoxical title "Minor Giant Steps" followed with mellow "Touch My Heaven" in distant vocal style. The rhythm section reminds me to the music of Peter Gabriel or Carptree. "The Unorthodox Dancing Lesson" is a nice instrumental. There is music riffs which are very similar to King Crimson (at minutes 1:00). In here you can enjoy how excellent Marcus (the new drummer) is playing his kits. The title track "Paradox Hotel" is a straight forward composition.

Overall, this is a great music with great musicianship. I urge you to own this album. If you find problems to accept the music, you might need to follow my path as I mentioned above with patience and open mind. Let the music flows - don't expect the music "should be" like this or like that. Especially, don't play around with the melody. The Flower Kings has pushed the envelope further, to create music beyond what the have done so far. Oh by the way, the sonic quality is excellent. Cover art (by Andres Valle) and CD package are great - really prog package! The album is produced by Roine Stolt and assisted by Tomas Bodin. Roine Stolt is a genius! On the basis of this album and Roine's last solo album, I decide myself being the fan of The Flower Kings. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this THE FLOWER KINGS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

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

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

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