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The Flower Kings - Banks Of Eden CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

4.05 | 795 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'd unknowingly been a fan of progressive rock since the end of my elementary school days, enjoying the longer, more complex compositions of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, and Metallica and collecting all the Pink Floyd albums on cassette. I just didn't know this music was called progressive rock until I became a sudden huge fan of Rush at the end of 2010 and then Yes in June of 2011. By 2012 I converted to progheadism and began exploring the genre in earnest. The Flower Kings album "Banks of Eden" showed up on Amazon one day and I gave it a sample. I wasn't convinced that this "new" band was really prog and so I checked them out on PA and was stunned to find that this was a well-established band with quite a catalogue of albums, a few of them double studio albums, not to mention Roine Stolt's involvement with Kaipa in the seventies. I went ahead and ordered the deluxe edition of "Banks of Eden" with the bonus disc of four songs. I've been meaning to review the album ever since and just now, two years later, I am going to share my thoughts.

The opening track is the 25-minute epic, "Numbers". It begins with lots of action, impressive symphonic prog that really rocks at times and eases back when required without turning cold. For the first ten minutes there is much to keep up with. But as I walked home tonight with the song in my earbuds, I found my attention wandering during the slower part in the middle. I am sure it's a necessary part of the song but I finally wondered if the track wasn't winding down soon and I looked and saw there was still ten minutes left! But around 18 minutes the interest comes back and I was once again keeping my ears and mind connected. As this was among the first of my modern prog albums, I was and am still pleased and impressed with most of this song.

"For the Love of Gold" swiftly became my favourite on the album, mostly for the delightful vocal harmonies and the transitions between pop-symphonic prog and occasional punches of hard rock. Guitar solos, synthesizer solos, and organ solos figure in this song, and though the chorus tends to show up fairly often, the melody is catchy. I noticed tonight how the drummer seems to be hard at work at avoiding a 4/4 beat. He's hopping about on his drum stool and dropping odd beats and bursting out with sudden fills, a nice touch to a song that often sounds like a prog song in pop clothing.

I quite appreciate the length of this album. At just over 54 minutes, we have reached the point where there are only three more songs to hear and all between six and eight minutes long. Considering the band often released double studio albums and that they hadn't released a new studio album for a few years before "Banks of Eden", it's a surprise to find an album so concise. "Pandemonium" begins with some exciting symphonic prog a bit on the heavy side but soon the song settles into musical territory already established in the lengthy first track. Some are put off by the sci-fi character vocals that seem to be making an embarrassing attempt to rap, but I find this part adds some originality to the general tone of the album.

We are back into symphonic prog complexity with "For Those About to Drown" and the lyrics have a Gabriel-esque ring to them. The music also reminds me of "Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears at times, which in turn makes me think of the Beatles. This has become my second favourite song on the album, though Roine Stolt's vocals sound intentionally nasal at times and a bit annoying.

The final track, "Rising the Imperial" didn't leave much in my memory previously but listening to it again tonight gave me a fresh take. It's slow and more atmospheric and actually better than I remembered. It's interesting to note that "Numbers" begins with lyrics from "Rising the Imperial" and also that "Rising the Imperial" includes a continuation of part of the lyrics to "Numbers". In a way, the two longest tracks create bookends to the album.

The four tracks on the bonus CD are all worth the extra money, in my opinion. "Illuminati" is an instrumental that, around the 3-minute mark, reveals its intention to pay homage to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" with some wonderfully played Gilmour-tribute guitar. "Fireghosts" is a catchy song that is likely the most pop-sounding on the entire offering. The melody is pretty and uplifting but with a trimming of sentiment. "Going Up" rocks out a bit and takes us back to some of the excited playing that showed up on "For the Love of Gold". The final song, "LoLines" shows the Flower Kings in hard rock seventies style with a marriage of almost boogie rock and symphonic prog, depending on which way the song is leaning in the beginning, middle, or end.

After this purchase, I was impressed enough to later pick up three more albums by the Flower Kings and I still have two more at least that I'd like to get. This and "Space Revolver" remain my favourites, with "Banks of Eden" winning slightly in overall sound and general impression.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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