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The Flower Kings - Retropolis CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.75 | 524 ratings

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3 stars Every time I read a comment about THE FLOWER KINGS and people say it's Retro Prog, I get really angry, please, a genre, style or mood is not created to last 5 or 6 years, unless you're talking about top 40 songs designed to be a fashion for a very short lapse of time and then be forgotten. These guys are playing a genre that was born in the late 60's and still is alive; we should avoid using terms designed for mainstream.

it's undeniable that this guys have influences of YES, ELP, GENESIS and other 70's giants, but the musician that says he's influenced by nobody...LIES, and we must remember that THE FLOWER KINGS, add a unique guitar sound much more aggressive than almost any 70's Symphonic band.

It's time to go to the album, but lets forget about the opener "Rhythm of Life", because it's only a mixture of sounds (Ping Pong game with the phrase Rhythm of Life repeated three times), honestly don't understand what the guys pretended with this.

Now, "Retropolis" is another thing, now we are talking about an excellent instrumental that mixes everything, hard rock guitars, Symphonic Prog and a killer guitar by Roine Stolt. The song is full of Radical changes that go from Prog to Neo Classical, and an outstanding keyboard work by Tomas Bodin; that's what Prog is about, in the 70's,, 90's and today. Excellent song, 11:07 minutes of Pure Prog .

"Rhythm of the Sea" is another excellent track, now the band adventures in Avant territory, blend it with Jazz and pristine Symphonic, the tempo changes between the soft passages and faster ones ones is simply perfect, probably the only problem is Roine's voice, don't know why, but find it annoying.

"There is More to this World" starts with a guitar and Mellotron intro that leads to a Neo Prog oriented passage where guitar is essential, again the vocals make this song hard to swallow, but once you get used, there's not much problem. The instrumental breaks are the most interesting sections, the interplay between Roine, Tomas and Michael Stolt is very solid, some ELP reminiscences, but nothing too obvious IMO. Good but not great track.

"Romancing the City" is a short piano interlude that changes the mood, relaxing the listener after the frantic previous finale and blends perfectly with "The Melting Pot" intro, a song that stats but soon changes into a folksy Symphonic passage. Again the radical changes and strong organ are a highlight, this time mysterious and dark, with Roine making some growling vocals. But again in their ever changing style move to an oriental (somehow Moorish) section that morphs into an almost cacophonic hard rock instrumental, another great track.

"Silent Sorrow" is probably the weakest song of the album, very monotonous and IMO lacks of interest, the vocals sound worst than ever.

The sound of bells announces "The Judas Kiss", a wonderful organ intro leads again to hard section where Roine makes a good but short guitar solo, the vocals in this case are very interesting, because unlike the previous tracks there are strong variations, rises and goes down, with the keyboards supporting the voice and a guitar work which reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden but softer. Again multiple changes and variations make of "The Judas Kiss" another high point of the album. "Retropolis by Night" reminds of VANGELIS in Blade Runner, somehow the atmosphere created is pretty similar, a keyboard creating atmospheres with an electronic edge, while haunting vocals mixed with city sounds complete the scene. Not my cup of tea, but not bad either.

"Flora Majora" begins with an excellent keyboard and drums combo which gets more and more Symphonic as the song advances and more instruments join the adventure, again not the strongest track, but pretty solid.

The album is closed with "The Road Back Home" which is a major change, starts with acoustic guitar and vocals, somehow similar to some PINK FLOYD works, after a soft first half the music goes in crescendo taking us to one of the best instrumental breaks that THE FLOWER KINGS can offer us, lush keyboards, Mellotron and perfect drumming make this part unforgettable, at the end another solid guitar works puts the cherry on to of the cake.

Te big question is how can I rate this album? Four stars seems too much for me, being that I gave that rating to strongest and more imaginative albums, but at the same time three stars seems insufficient. So I will have to be a bit unfair and stay with three stars, not without saying that 3.5 would be the perfect average.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 3/5 |


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