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The Flower Kings - The Rainmaker CD (album) cover


The Flower Kings


Symphonic Prog

3.47 | 453 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A 2001 release, and my third TFK review, this is a solid album, without, I think, being exceptional.

We all expect a special epic to open proceedings with, and Last Minute on Earth does not disappoint. Aside from a strange opening, the vocals on this by Hasse Froberg are really pleasing, and the whole track has the precise symphonic feel that I love so much about the band. A grandiose attempt, spoiled a little bit by a rather aimless conclusion, as if the band simply HAD to fill up 60 seconds with endless jamming.

World Without a Heart is a lovely four and a half minute track, with a fragile vocal by Stolt and some gentle slide guitar and backing from other departments. It should not be forgotten that this band do also do ballads very well, and this is a very enjoyable one.

Road to Sanctuary is the longest track on the album, at almost 14 minutes. I love the keyboard led focus of this track, it is very much moulded within the classic symphonic tradition, and certainly the letters ELP are written all over the opening passage to this one. Just short of four minutes in, the track reverts to more traditional TFK territory, before a very quiet acoustic guitar & flute led passage. Really nice musicianship is present here. There are many mood changes within this track, too many really to detail in a limited time review, but I really do enjoy the quieter passages, which I think feature some of Stolt's finest acoustic guitar work. This epic finishes not with a huge bang, but with a gentle downplay. It's not any the worst for that.

The title track is up next. Very slow intro section, described by many as Bolero inspired, and I can see where they are coming from, there is a fantastic guitar solo to come, with soaring melodies. Nice to hear mellotron come to the track at four minutes in, before other keys take over for the remainder accompanied by a low and deep bass line from Reingold. This is a competent instrumental rather than a standout epic by the band.

City of Angels is the next epic clocking in at just over 12 minutes long. This starts off in the most sunny and upbeat manner possible, a fantastic opening. There are some nice vocal harmonies, and the listener is very much reminded of Fragile era Yes again. Retro symphonic prog at its most obvious, there are some nice passages, but I don't find it consistent and joined up enough to hold the attention much.

Elaine is another ballad, with some exceptional work by Reingold on bass especially. I like Stolt's vocals on this, even if some of the lyrics are rather cheesy.

I like the heavy organ on the intro to Thru The Walls, but, again, this is not a particularly coherent track, and struggles to hold the attention.

Sword of God gets things back on track, with the music bursting into a heavy set of riffs, following on from a deceptively choral opening. I like this one - heavy, moody, and rocking.

Blessing of a Smile quietens down proceedings again, this is a lovely instrumental, with exceptional combinations of bass guitar, sax, and keyboards. Very pleasing, very gentle, this is the band at their best.

I'm not quite sure what the point of Red Alert was, in all honesty. This is a one minute instrumental revisiting some of the earlier passages, and I for one would have preferred them to have extended this into a longer track in order to develop it properly. As it is, a one minute noodle does nothing at all.

The album closes with Serious Dreamers. An excellent way to close the album, this rescues the album a little bit from meandering here and there. Some great vocals set to a good bluesy feel, nine minutes of sheer pleasure.

This band do not do bad albums, and, as with most of their work, there are soaring highs and moments when you are in the company of genius. Equally, there are infuriating moments, and there are a couple more on this one that some other albums.

With a half point rating system, this would get 3.5 stars, but I cannot describe it as an excellent album with which to get into the band, so a solid three stars it is. Some fantastic moments, but the school report would state capable of so much more.

lazland | 3/5 |


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