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Symphonic Prog • Sweden

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The Flower Kings biography
Founded in Uppsala, Sweden in 1994 - Hiatus between 2008-2012

It's hard to make a biography about THE FLOWER KINGS, being that there's so much to say about them, so any attempt of telling their history may seem insufficient.

This esential Swedish group was born around 1993 as a power trio formed by Roine Stolt (Ex-KAIPA) in guitar and vocals, Jaime Salazar (Drums) and Hasse Bruniusson (percussion), and ex-SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, this lineup worked with Stolt in his solo album "The Flower King" with the participation of Hans Fröberg (Lead and Backing vocals) who would stay with them.

Soon they decided to form a band using the name of the solo album so THE FLOWER KINGS was born, the keyboardist Tomas Bodin and Roine's brother Michael in the bass joined and the band was officially born.

For 1995 they have their first release ready "Back in the World of Adventures" which impressed the critics very much for their closeness to the style of early bands such as Moody Blues, genesis, Jethro Tull etc, borrowing ideas but not music, so you can easily find their inspiration but a single chord copied, I personally liked the album but found it closer to Neo Prog than to Symphonic but this is only a stylistic precision that has no relation with the quality of the album.

The next few years are prolific with few changes and they release "Retropolis" in 1996. Stardust we Are" in 1997 and "Flower Power" in 1998 with no great changes.

In 1999 Michael Stolt leaves the band and is replaced by Jonas Reingold so the new formation for "Space Revolver" in the year 2000 also includes Ulf Wallander playing the Sax as a guest that remains for a long period with them.

After "The Rainmaker" in 2001 Jaime Salazar leaves the band and the drums are taken by Zoltan Csörsz who stays in the band until the release of "Paradox Hotel" (2005) when is replaced by Marcus Liliequist.

As most Swedish bands the quality of their music and the musicianship of their members is impeccable but don't expect the complexity of their most illustrious compatriots like Anglagard or the dark and almost religious atmosphere of Par Lindh Project (With whom Roine worked in Gothic Impressions), being that the music of THE FLOWER KINGS is a bit lighter but not inferior by any means.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú
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THE FLOWER KINGS Videos (YouTube and more)

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Adam + EveAdam + Eve
Insideout Music 2009
Stardust We AreStardust We Are
Inside Out 2004
$14.99 (used)
Kingdom Of Colours II (2004-2013) (Limited Edition 9 CD Box)Kingdom Of Colours II (2004-2013) (Limited Edition 9 CD Box)
Inside Out Germany 2018
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THE FLOWER KINGS discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

THE FLOWER KINGS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 587 ratings
Back In The World Of Adventures
3.74 | 508 ratings
3.90 | 579 ratings
Stardust We Are
3.95 | 495 ratings
Flower Power
3.85 | 541 ratings
Space Revolver
3.47 | 439 ratings
The Rainmaker
3.88 | 524 ratings
Unfold The Future
3.50 | 476 ratings
Adam & Eve
3.72 | 477 ratings
Paradox Hotel
3.80 | 540 ratings
The Sum Of No Evil
4.05 | 780 ratings
Banks Of Eden
3.98 | 570 ratings
Desolation Rose
0.00 | 0 ratings
Waiting For Miracles

THE FLOWER KINGS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 123 ratings
Alive On Planet Earth
4.38 | 168 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording 2003
3.36 | 30 ratings
Carpe Diem
4.08 | 69 ratings
Tour Kaputt

THE FLOWER KINGS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.13 | 123 ratings
Meet The Flower Kings @ Live Recording 2003
3.77 | 91 ratings
Instant Delivery
4.22 | 47 ratings
Tour Kaputt

THE FLOWER KINGS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.45 | 46 ratings
Scanning The Greenhouse
3.91 | 4 ratings
Two In One
3.24 | 71 ratings
The Road Back Home
4.73 | 11 ratings
A Kingdom of Colours
4.62 | 13 ratings
A Kingdom of Colours II

THE FLOWER KINGS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Edition Limitee Quebec 1998
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Flower Kings
2.83 | 14 ratings
Fanclub CD 2000
3.02 | 34 ratings
The Rainmaker (Limited Edition)
3.91 | 23 ratings
The Fanclub CD 2002 - A Collection Of Flower Kings Related Music
3.78 | 24 ratings
Live In New York - Official Bootleg
2.34 | 10 ratings
Fanclub CD 2004
2.18 | 33 ratings
2.87 | 25 ratings
Harvest Fanclub CD 2005
3.65 | 40 ratings
BrimStoned In Europe


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Two In One by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
3.91 | 4 ratings

Two In One
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The first two "official" Flower Kings CDs in one package (to many fans, me included, Michael Stolts The Flower King is the real debut). What a bargain! To me the band never really did anything as good as their first two albums, although they came close several times. OK, many will disagree, it´s a matter of taste, but to me they never combined so well the simplicity of their early records within the symphonic prog context with that fine songwriting. Nothing´s overdone and even the few vignettes and effects does not spoil the overall beauty of Stolts tunes. Later albums would feature some filler material and not so inspired stuff, but on those two CDs I found everything to be well balanced and inspired, even some weird bits here and there.

Call them retro prog, call them unoriginal, or whatever: to me they are the most important band to appear in the 1990s and it´s symphonic prog at its best, at least on these two records, something that changed my life forever after listening to them. I could never believe someone was doing this kind of music in 1994: truly inspired by the 70´s great ones: Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd et al, plus a dose of jazz rock/fusion and Zappa elements for good measure. They even resuscitated mellotron sounds! I was in prog heaven!

If you´re new to this great band this is a fantastic way to get to know them. The music is symphonic and complex, but also melodic and beautiful. Less self indulgent than some of their latter releases, Back In The World Of Adventures and Retropolis are the quintessential TFK stuff that made them famous: probably their most inspired and cohesive albums of their entire career.

 Stardust We Are by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.90 | 579 ratings

Stardust We Are
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars I recently realised a likelihood for the enjoyment of the general sound of The Flower Kings and why they stood out to me above certain other retro prog bands, the reason being twofold. The most clear reason is still the fact that so many of their extended instrumental sections just go and take you on an absolute journey, being able to paint such vivid images throughout, providing a much needed, yet often forgotten aspect of songwriting, making all sections of the music engaging, rather than just bankimg on the good parts. The second reason is a far more personal one, the extremely positive, happy melodies reminding me of the pantomimes I used to be taken to as a kid, resulting in some kind of connection that I only recently realised. That said, I find Stardust We Are to be lacking in a lot of areas that made me appreciate the first 2 Flower Kings albums. The most prevalent issue is the lack of restraint displayed here, the album length being a challenge even when considering some of my favourite albums, such as Swans' To Be Kind, let alone what essentially feels like 2 hours of relatively safe prog rock. There is a real lack of variety to be found here, the cheesy qualities innately part of the genre being made an aspect of everything here, extremely dramatic sections that devolve into wild soloing, without any of the excellent writing that backed up past albums, not to mention an overbearing amount of ballads. While less of an issue, I also find the sequencing to be problematic as well, the back half loaded with far too many of the more commercial tracks with the far more proggy elements finding themselves on loaded up at the front, further contributing to this album being an extremely difficult one for me to be able to sit through, despite having certain moments which are downright incredible.

The album starts off with both an extremely strong, yet problematic song, as In The Eyes Of The World is my choice for greatest song on the album by a landslide, having an incredible energy to it and just having a lot more rock focus compared to everything else here, and while starting an album off with your best song is always something I find ill advised, as it means that there's going to be no greater point on the album than this very first piece, it's an especially egregious issue when the album goes for over 2 hours. Another part of the album that I find pretty interesting is the abundance of circus/carnival imagery throughout, all the way down to song titles, unfortunately rarely translating into the actual music. Most of the rest of side one is composed of a few slow paced songs that go on for far too long, sometimes having great elements to them, other times, such as with Just This Once, everything feels wasted. The excess and issue with sequencing is really highlighted in the stretch of music from Poor Mr. Rain's Ordinary Guitar to Circus Brimston though, all of these songs being entirely intrumental and essentially sounding like one extended solo. The one positive from this is that if you ignore the first 2 tracks and just focus on Circus Brimstone, then you've got something great, as the demented, off kilter rhythms and riffs used here are absolutely exquisite and once again bring in the more engaging side of the band. The more excessive side to this album is most clearly demonstrated in side 1's closing track, Compassion, starting of as a passionate, breathtaking song that then halfway through, completely fades out before coming back in sounding quite different, and once again, more soloing.

After the fairly mediocre first side, I was pleasantly surprised by the second side, starting off with a stunningly majestic interlude before the main portion of it started. This is far more commercial than the first side, with songs like Different People being reminiscient of SIlent Sorrow and My Cosmic Lover, although leaning more towards the sappy, painfully cheesy My Cosmic Lover. The lack of distinct change in tone throughout the album surely contributes immensely to the tedium of a lot of this album, all the songs being extremely whimsical in nature, making everything sound like one gigantic fantasy world, except with considerably less of the wonder that made Back In The World Of Adventures engaging despite its flaws. What's more is that by having more than one or two tracks of this nature simply to give a break before the more proggy songs, this in itself manages to become even more tiring than if they just decided to make a full 2 hours of nothing but insane instrumental work. This side is somewhat salvaged by the final, 25 minute epic however, as it manages to evoke the same kind of mystical qualities of the previous material here, but is actually able to move throughout what feels like an entire world constructed without simply devolving into pointlessness. This title track basically has all the main elements that a prog fan could ask for, long, sweeping passages of music, a decent progression throughout complete with an impressive display of technicality, a while lot of passion, but even this song isn't free of problems, as it feels almost too safe for its own good, utilising all the features of beloved prog epics without really doing anything too interesting with it, but it's definitely still a highly enjoyable song despite it being quite middle of the road in terms of ideas.

On the whole, I feel that at the very least, if this were half the length and only contained the good material here, that this would be an all around solid, albeit safe prog rock album. As it stands, this is the weakest of the 3 Flower Kings albums I've listened to so far for the excessive nature of it reaching painful levels throughout, it's always going to be a challenge for a 2 hour album to remain interesting, much less of symphonic prog of this variety, where even the beloved double albums of the genre such as The Lamb Dies Down On Broadway and Tales Of Topographic Oceans can test my patience. This album was fairly disappointing even despite my initial concerns with it, but I still can't deny that it contains a handful of absolutely standout moments that save the album from being outright bad, although just barely.

Best songs: In The Eyes of the World, Circus Brimstone, Stardust We Are

Weakest songs: Just This Once, The Man Who Walked With Kings, Different People

Verdict: Excessive to a fault, embodying all of the worst traits of prog rock within one album. The only thing that saves it is that a bit over 40 minutes of this is exceptional music, which would be a far bigger compliment if not for the fact that this is over 2 hours long.

 Retropolis by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.74 | 508 ratings

The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars Despite having a similar sound and structure to their previous album, The Flower Kings took many steps in the right direction with their followup release, Retropolis. The most immediate improvement that comes to mind for me is the much more cohesive nature of the album, now with the instrumental songs matching the highlights in terms of quality, evoking the same level of amazing musical imagery as the epics from Back In The World Of Adventures. I also love the slightly more mysterious tone the album has, sounding more sci fi oriented compared to the lush fantasy sound of their debut.

After the strange and ultimately pointless Rhythm of Life, the album kicks off with the title track, which is an entirely insturmental 11 minute track that never wastes a single moment. This actually reminds me of a combination between Yes' Close To The Edge, and some of King Crimson's instrumental jams such as the Devil's Triangle, but it all comes together so perfectly with how it manages to paint such a vivid picture, made so amazing by to exquisite use of synths and mellotron. Funnily enough, in contrast to the previous album the next song I find truly memorable and amazing is The Melting Pot, another instrumental. This is not to say that the previous 2 songs aren't good, they're actually excellent, filled with emotion and power, with sweeping melodies and tasteful solos, with amazing interplay between the bass and guitar, it's just that I don't seem to remember much of these ones no matter how many times I listen to them, although I wouldn't call them filler. The Melting Pot on the other hand immediately hooked me with its more off kilter nature and its prominent use of the saxophone, all around having a somewhat more avant garde sound to it and making effective use of more ambient passages.

The album continues in amazing fashion with SIlent Sorrow, which I consider the quivalent to My Cosmic Lover, both having a different, more pop oriented sound, being more catchy than complex or grandiose, only difference being that Silent Sorrow is good. Not just good actually, downright amazing, being one of my favourites off this album in fact, as it has the normal kind of uplifting beauty of The Flower Kings, backed up by such lovely melodies and incredible keyboard usage, not to mention the stunning guitar solo. The Judas Kiss continues the absolutely stunning pace of the album, just like with Go West Judas, being the darkest cut off the album, and honestly sounding pretty similar, although not enough so to be considered overly derivative. The sounds of the church organ and the much more grandiose sound to everything actually reminds me of something I'd hear from a Castlevania game, which is always a massive positive in my book. Of the final 3 songs, while none are bad, it's mostly the closer that truly stands out to me, not because of doing anything particularly out of the ordinary for this album, but just because all of its best elements culminate here to produce a composition that closes everything off perfectly, with the sort of finality that one would expect to hear in a closing track.

Definitely a massive improvement over their first album for me, taking the amazing, expansive instrumental passages that impressed me so much, and then making the entire album a much more cohesive experience less rife with filler, each song having purpose, with the instrumental ones being significantly more fleshed out and interesting. The more mysterious tone is not offset by the amazing optimism possessed b the band either, the way they're able to sound so happy without being simultaneously painfully cheesy is without a doubt one of their biggest strong points along with their vivid imagery. I was initially somewhat hesitant to listen to much more b The Flower Kings after my initial disappointment, but this album has definitely changed m mind on that, and I'm eager to see how they handle one of their insanely large double albums, as I'm now feeling more optimistic that it won't be as bloated as I had expected.

Best songs: Retropolis, Silent Sorrow, The Judas Kiss, The Road Back Home

Weakest songs: Flora Majora

Verdict: This is what retro prog should be like in general, not simply taking large influence from past artists, but doing something with these influences. Retropolis displays the songwriting techniques and sound of many classic prog bands, but then has a slightl more modern twist to it, along with having a better understanding of what makes a good instrumental break than some of the classics did at times (Looking at you Emerson, Lake and Palmer).

 Back In The World Of Adventures by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.03 | 587 ratings

Back In The World Of Adventures
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Trelecke

2 stars *Disclaimer: All of the things I say in this review are subject to change, as my opinion is bound to evolve in some way or another*

Ever since I got into prog almost three years ago, I had always heard about the Flower Kings. Despite all the praise they got, I never really listened to any of their discography since I was still busy getting through all the OG prog master (Yes, Genesis, ELP, etc.). But now that I've basically covered ground on all the big prog bands (and a few lesser known ones too), I decided that now was a better time than ever to check out what was up with this band.

- World of Adventures - A pretty solid track to start off the album. While nothing particularly stood out as amazing, I did seem to set the mood for what was to come pretty well, with some nice keyboard ear candies, simple but catchy lyrics and good-proggy chord progression. A tad bit long and sugary for my taste, but it left me with a good vibe. (6.5/10)

- Atomic Prince/Kaleidoscope - Easily my favorite track on the whole record. It starts off with an atmospheric synth hook, building up to pretty cool jam with some great interplay between the wailing, perfectly toned guitar and the synthesizers. The Kaleidoscope part of the song, a short acoustic outro, is probably the best moment on the whole album. (8/10)

- Go West Judas - A lot of people seem to think this is one of the best songs on the album and, honestly, I don't know why. It's not bad by any means, and I do appreciate the change of pace from the last two songs, but it... well, I don't know. There's just something about it that doesn't quite work for me. It all seems too bland and meandering, without any real dynamic hook or point. I will say that I quite dug the interlude that happens at around the 5 minute mark. (6/10)

- Train to Nowhere - Around this part on the album is when I started losing hope. This song is just bleehhh. It tries to be King Crimson-ish, but by the end, it sound like a very bland 90's pop-rock song, on the border of being a tune you'd hear during worship at the local church that tries to be "hip" and "with the kids". Not bad or offensive, just white bread. (5/10)

- Oblivion Road - Ok, now we're getting back on track! This jazzy ditty serves a good transitional piece between Train to Nowhere and Theme for a Hero. Unfortunately, while a fun listen, it doesn't hold up as well as a stand alone track. (6/10)

- Theme for a Hero - Honestly, I don't have much to say for this song. It's pretty decent, but ultimately forgetful. (5/10)

- Temple of Snakes - Not even gonna give this one a rating, since it's so short

- My Cosmic Lover - Absolute Rubbish and easily the worst track on the album. Takes the blandness of Train to Nowhere one step further and turns it into a straight-up 90's christian-pop-sounding song. The lyrics are as bland as ever here and the hook is very, very weak. It also goes overboard on the tad "overly-sweet" tone of the first song and pours a whole bag into your ears. Slightly redeemable, but a song I will never come back to. (3.5/10)

- The Wonder Wheel - A decent instrumental piece that would fit nicely in the soundtrack for an action/thriller film. (6/10)

- Big Puzzle - Well, despite my mixed feelings over this album, atleast it goes out on a positive note. Much like the first song, it's filled with good chord progressions and riffs that seem to fall a bit short due to the album being too scared to do something outside of it's comfort zone. The ending guitar solo is definitely a highlight. (6.5/10)

While not a bad album, this debut by The Flower Kings did not really impress me or gave me anything unique and, considering this is the band's highest rated album, it leads me to believe that maybe it's just not for me.

Overall Rating: 5.5/10

 Back In The World Of Adventures by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.03 | 587 ratings

Back In The World Of Adventures
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars The Flower Kings are a band that took me absolutely ages to get around to listening to, despite multiple recommendations from different sources. There were 2 reasons for this, one is that I'm just nowhere near as big on symphonic prog as a lot of others seem to be, and two, the bigger one, how am I supposed to take a band at all seriously when they call themselves the Flower Kings? After listening to this album a few times, I still felt apprehensive about listening further, as I honestly don't enjoy this album as much as a lot of other people seem to, a lot of it coming down to the reason of filler, in this case an excessive amount of it. The sound of the band is retro prog borrowing greatly from Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson, the general upbeat sound and extended instrumental passages of Yes, the often bright, upbeat and beautiful nature of Genesis, and then occasionally the heavier, darker riffs of King Crimson, while also throwing in some more modern touches, particularly in the more pop oriented songs.

The album kicks off with what is by far my favourite song here, which isn't a good thing given the fact that this album is on the longer side, meaning that past this point, there won't be anytrhing quite as impressive to be found. That said, World Of Adventures is a stunning track, starting off with the heavy use of flute and synth, invoking the atmosphere of a forest clearing, before unleashing a surprisingly punchy riff that reminds me of the heavier section of PFM's Appena Un Po, and definitely surprised me first listen, as I expected something upbeat to a cheesy and painful extent, this moment of heaviness immediately quelling some of my fears about how this would turn out. Once this part dies down, it reveals a series of absolutely beautiful melodies that I could see on a Yes album, but with vocals that I personally prefer, not being a big fan of Jon Anderson's singing. The extremely long middle part of the song is what should be done with an extended instrumental section, never devolving into pointless soloing, instead taking the listener on a journey, capturing a wonderful sense of uplifting energy that never dulls for a second, making apt use of its full runtime. Atomic Prince / Kaleidoscope embraces the sound of Emerson Lake and Palmer with the sound of the keyboards and the fact that this is essentially one large instrumental break, the first of many on this album, and by far the best, swapping between a core motif and impressive solos, each cycle increasing the intensity, never going overboard, simply sounding excellent throughout the majority of it. The one issue I have is that the soft, middle section is incredibly tedious and makes the song feel too long. Go West Judas is the one of the two other songs on this album which I would consider to be really great, being a heavier song that has an absolutely wonderful riff that continues over to the bassline. The hints of mellotron and guitar chords played during the chorus provides extra power and intensity to the song.

It's unfortunate that after this point, the album weakens significantly, with the slower songs being consistently bad, and the instrumental songs being generally uneventful and mediocre. Train To Nowhere begins this trend by trying to be an emotional ballad, but failing to have any aspect of it leave any impact other than boredom, sounding cheesy rather than heartfelt. Oblivion Road and to a lesser extent, Theme For A Hero are entirely instrumental songs that do very little, Oblivion Road having its sole highlight being some half decent saxophone, but without any form of crescendo, everything being extremely subdued, it just ends up being extremely dull. Theme For A Hero rehashes elements that were done better in World Of Adventures, having a similar uplifting atmosphere, but without the strong melody and overall beauty that it had, leaving it feeling like a far inferior version of it. I'd be more willing to forgive a couple of bad tracks, if not for the fact that the worst was still to come, with My Cosmic Lover being absolutely abysmal. I find this song to be so awful that it becomes genuinely embarrassing to listen to, with the main instrumental melody sounding like a bad song from one of the GBA Spyro games, not something you should ever aspire to sound like. The song then somehow becomes worse once the vocals kick in, with enough cheese to feed a small village for a month. The album does manage to save itself slightly by the end with its second, albeit inferior epic, Big Puzzle, taking on a much slower, prettier approach, complete with smooth saxophone and far less energy in vocal delivery. The main reason this song manages to be great falls back to the same reason that the opener was, absolutely sublime instrumental passages, far overshadowing anything with the vocals involved, being dynamic, memorable, and just downright a joy to listen to, and manages to close off the album in a stunning way.

I feel like if this album cut everything from Go West Judas until Big Puzzle, the end result would be a far superior one, as this would eliminate the massive amount of filler that plagues the album, songs that range from mediocre to absolutely atrocious. This is by far the largest complaint I have about the album, as when it's good, it's really good, being able to make instrumental sections incredibly engaging without having to resort to virtuosity, which is something that I tend to find a lot of weaker modern prog bands do, ultimately being their downfall. In this case though, I can definitely see why this band has its fans, and do see a lot of potential in this debut, showing a real knack for making epics without a moment that feels wasted, and having a tone that's happy and uplifting without becoming too saccharine, it's just a shame that there's over half an hour worth of boredom that brings this down, although it's less of an issue than it otherwise would be, given how great the high points are.

Best songs: World of Adventures, Go West Judas, Big Puzzle

Weakest songs: Train to Nowhere, My Cosmic Lover

Verdict: If you like retro prog, or are at least accepting of it, then you'll probably enjoy at least the highlights of this album, as they take everything great about classic prog, and occasionally manages to improve upon it, as I've felt much more connection to the instrumental sections of the best songs here than I have with many others, including some of the greats of classic prog, shame that I can't stand half of this.

 The Rainmaker by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.47 | 439 ratings

The Rainmaker
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The sixth album of the Swedish symphonic prog believers!

But this time, despite the incorporation of the Jaime Salazar's drums, part of the magic of previous work is gone due to the subpar songwriting which makes that along with some splendid long pure symphonic prog compositions (Last Minute on Earth, Road to Sanctuary, City of Angles) we find a pair of really insubstantial and less inspired ones (World Without a Heart, The Rainmaker, Elaine...)

This fact makes the hearing of the album rather frustrating and dull in the long term, because if the short tracks were better or directly gone, we would be talking about another complete success of The Flower Kings.

Best Tracks: the longer ones! And Sword of God, because its great guitar riffs.

Conclusion: being very similar in style than the previous records, this time The Flower Kings suffered from an irregular songwriting that even the incredible playing of all the members of the band could not compensate.

Nevertheless, The Rainmaker is still good enough and it contains three or four jewels of the best symphonic prog out there!

My rating: ***

 Back In The World Of Adventures by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1995
4.03 | 587 ratings

Back In The World Of Adventures
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Quinino
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

5 stars This is a monster of a record (in a good way) and there's no use trying to find its flaws - they're surely there but it doesn't matter at all, as the final result will be pointless - what really mattters is: Roine Stolt very much inspired compositions served by an exceptional band of performers, his younger brother Michael on bass included.

Must be now my favorite album from the TFK, and it makes sense as a starting point for anyone beginning to discover their music - fresh and new yet sophisticated and ambitious.

A great first album whom I had once given 4 stars and now, after so much pleasurable listens along the years, reconsider and give a solid masterpiece status - 5 stars, no less !

 Unfold The Future by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.88 | 524 ratings

Unfold The Future
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Norbert

3 stars Unfold the Future is the seventh studio album by Swedish progressive rock band The Flower Kings. Behind the not exactly beautiful artwork we can find 2 CDs, so this is the third of their 4 double albums. The first disc is about 74 minutes long, the second one is a bit shorter, it clocks at about 67 minutes. This is the debut studio album with The Flower Kings for my fellow Hungarian drummer Zoltán Csörsz, and guest singer Daniel Gildenlöw, mainly known as the mastermind of Pain of Salvation, and the permanent guest musician Hasse Bruniusson, most familiar from Samla Mammas Manna also featured here. The musicanship is excellent as on any album released by The Flower Kings, especially bassist Jonas Reingold and Zoltán Csörsz do an absolutely outsanding job. The problems arise with the compositions, we are talking here about an album which is more than 140 minutes long. So the quantity is huge, but how about the quality? This album is in the usual style of The Flower Kings, so Symphonic Prog mainly influenced by Yes, Genesis, Camel with many jazz rock fusion and some Frank Zappa influence in the mix. For me it is not a big issue if a band is not exactly groundbreaking if they write great music in the vein of their influences, but here I am not very plesed with everything I hear. The opening track is called The Truth will set you free, in stucture is somewhat similar of the legendary title track of Close to the Edge, but it is 31 minutes long, almost as long as a classic prog album like Per Un Amico. It features some Symphonic Prog beauty mainly in the vein of Yes, but also some sugarsweet, cheesy parts, which would not sound out of place at an Eurovision Song Contest. If it was under 20 minutes it could be an excellent piece. If The Truth will set you free is the "Close to the Edge" of this album, Christianopel is the "Waiting Room", but the Supernatural Anaesthetist is does not appear here. The other "jam" called Soul Vortex bores me even more. The purely jazz track The Devil's Dance School performed by Jonas, Zoltán and guest musician Anders Bergcratz on trumpet is other hand really cool. I really like Silent Inferno and the other "Devil's" track, Devil's Playground. This are well written and adventurous pieces, without musically embarassing moments. Devil's playground features for example beautiful Mellotron parts, and some great vocals by Daniel Gildenlöw. On the other hand I could do easily without Monkey business, Rollin' the Dice, Man Overboard, Vox Humana and The Navigator, to name a few. Although I have a soft spot an alternate version of The Navigator called Solitary Shell (It has nothing to do with the Dream Theater track) it has better arrangements, and it is shorter, 2 and a half minutes from this balladesque music is just fine. So mastermind Roine Stolt and his crew certainly have talent to write some wonderful music, but unfortunately focus and restraint are not the keywords of this album. I would rate a well-edited 65-70 minutes long version of Unfold the Future with 5 stars, but I can't rate with more than 3 stars the existing Unfold the Future.
 Banks Of Eden by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.05 | 780 ratings

Banks Of Eden
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars The Weakest TFK Album.

Not sure what happened here. Despite a 5-year break, TFK returned with this, their weakest album to date (the follow-up to this one, 2013's 'Desolation Rose' is much better). The opening epic, the 25-minute long "Numbers" is pretty good, as its cousin the closer "Rising the Imperial", but most of the remaining 7 tracks are sub-par for TFK (including those on the bonus CD). Of these, it is the first track on the bonus CD ("Illuminati") that is the best among the rest and which could be justified on the main album, leaving 6 tracks which stand among TFK's weakest studio releases and probably better suited for fan-club album. They are far more mainstream in approach, and their melodies and lyrics are not very compelling. Of course, this being TFK, there are some good musical ideas on each of these other tunes, but in each case they are coupled with themes and licks that are far less musical, and even off-putting - the vocodor vocal chorus on "Pandemonium" for instance, which I think ruins what could have been a good tune based on the strength of the opening lick. So, while I really like "Numbers" and "Raising the Imperial", which alone make this album worth getting, those are not enough to bring this album up above three stars (also, I wonder about the inconsistency in the composing credits here. "Numbers" is credited to Roine Stolt, while "Raising the Imperial" is credited to Jonas Reingold. However, these two tracks are musically related and share the same chorus-theme and lyrics, so who wrote that?). Despite taking 5 years, this album seems thrown together overly quickly. Of course, don't get me wrong here - a weaker TFK album is still better than the best albums from many other bands, and better than 90 percent of recorded rock music! Overall, I give this album 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale.

 The Sum Of No Evil by FLOWER KINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.80 | 540 ratings

The Sum Of No Evil
The Flower Kings Symphonic Prog

Review by Walkscore

5 stars One of two TFK masterpieces!

While 'Unfold the Future' is often lauded as one of TFK's best albums, Sum of No Evil is often overlooked. But I think it qualifies as the second TFK masterpiece, and thus deserves much more attention. Many reviewers here on PA have rated this down, but I think this is a problematic result of the way ratings work on sites like this, and not a reflection of the true musical value of this great work. When someone is rating an album that we all know well (say, a classic album from the 70s), it is one we have listened to for years, multiple times. So, even for those albums that are very dense, complex and difficult to penetrate at first (think, a lot of the more difficult albums by Yes, GG, the Hatfield's, etc), after multiple listens over many years emerges the musicality that was initially impenetrable to the listener. So, we can say that Tales is a great, musical album and rate it accordingly. However, when a recent album is released, many reviewers will listen to it once or twice, and then review it. The more difficult-to-penetrate albums are then rated down, because they have not had the luxury of multiple listens yet. And multiple listens are absolutely essential - much of the pleasure of good music is derived from the anticipation of knowing what comes next - satisfying that anticipation releases endorphins in the brain, leading to the pleasure we experience when a great section of music we have listened to many times arrives. But an album one listens to once or twice cannot, by definition, do this, particularly one that is more complex and difficult to get initially, even when they are highly musical. Meanwhile, other more-accessible albums that one can easily 'get' on first or second listen then get higher ratings (think many of the recent neo-prog albums). Even worse, on first listen, one might catch a few musical or lyrical references to those older classic 70s albums, and if at the same time the rest of the music seems impenetrable, it is so easy to be derogatory and label the music as just "retro-prog". I think this is patently unfair, and so I make a policy of only reviewing albums that I have listened to multiple times, and also of reviewing the music AS music, regardless of when and by whom it was made, or what is on the album cover.

And this album, to me, stands up there with the best of many of the classics. If it had been released in 1975, I think it would be up there in the top 100. I think if it had the benefit of decades, by now reviewers would know it inside out and would have a different take. It is both very dense (so requiring MANY multiple listens) AND very musical. It takes a long while to cognitively map this album, but once you do, one finds an exceptionally satisfying and beautiful set of music. Even the short slower tune, "Trading My Soul", which many reviewers here on PA seem to dismiss as it strikes them as less progressive and sappy (probably after one or two listens), is exceptionally musical and poignant. It all flows together very well, and even though this album is another example of an over-extended TFK set (over 78 minutes!), it carries you along and the time flies quickly. You don't want it to end!

While TKF albums and songs are, for the most part, not notable for their lyrics, this album is an exception. I really appreciate Roine Stolt's lyrics here - instead of searching around for external topics to write about (like he did in Adam and Eve, and Paradox Hotel), Stolt here writes from the heart. Reviewers seem to have latched onto a few lines (like the title and some lyrics in the long epic "Love is the Only Answer") in their arguments for why this album might be graded down, or deemed retro, etc, without actually listening to the content of the lyrics. Now I don't know Roine Stolt (and have never met him) but it seems to me this is his most personal TFK album. Indeed, I think the entire album is a dialogue with himself about the benefits of continuing with TFK, the sacrifices he and his family have made, and even his relationship with music itself. Stolt is someone who has given his entire life to music, but despite building a small but solid TFK following the band remained precarious. On this album, it seems he is letting on that he has decided to give it one more try, to follow his heart one more time, knowing full well he was getting older, 'trading his soul', and soon would have to make some decisions and reconcile with his other loved ones. Many of the songs are full of personal thoughts (including references to some of Stolt's favourite songs, and heroes, which on this album often take on multiple meanings). "Love is the Only Answer" is not a sappy throwaway, but an internal dialogue negotiating with darkness. The closing piece ("Life in Motion") ended up having a double meaning. He was coming home again to music. But after the tour ('Kaput'!), he folded the TFK for 5 years and actually did go home. Perhaps he was too emotionally drained, perhaps the opportunity to rejoin Transatlantic was just too lucrative, perhaps a number of things, but I wonder what would have happened with TFK if this album had been the one to take off. Regardless, I see this album as a huge musical accomplishment. It contains some of TFK's best compositions, and some of Stolt's most personal and (to me) interesting lyrics. There is not an unmusical minute on it, let alone an unmusical song (whereas other TFK albums usually contain a few duds, this one is just so musical all the way through). The first (and second, and third) time I listened to this, I found it too dense to form an opinion about it, but if I had to might have agreed with those who said it is fragmented and impenetrable. It is a good thing I didn't review it then! I have by now listened to this over 50 times. It is one of the few albums in my collection that just keeps getting better with each listen (those pro-musical endorphins at work!). It is a real keeper. I give it 9.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, and so 5 PA stars.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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