Before entering details, the first thing that I would like to comment is that this record is a good record, and I think I could even tell you that it's a great record. We already know that it's a long time since the Swedish group released its best work, "Stardust we are". They have changed or they have experienced an evolution. Not always the word evolution aims directly upon our expectations. It's a change of direction that in a way or another it favors the band, extends the life of the group, it makes to react the old fans and tries to get new adepts. There's no doubt that the transformation of the group in terms of composition has been rather significant. The ascension of The Flower Kings during the end of the nineties was quite spectacular, arriving at its artistic peak in 1997 and the publication of their most ambitious CD. From there, the group that moves like a monolith around the figure of Roine Stolt, has tried to reinvent itself publishing works very questioned by its little progressive depth and its superficial compositions, like "Space Revolver". They had to do something in order to get rid off the repetition and finally they chose loosening the nut instead of pressing it. With this, so much their previous record as this "The Rainmaker" are full of music so risked as always, as simple and melodic. The only thing that this CD doesn't have and with this I transfer you a negative sensation, it's the little participation of someone apart from its leader. A characteristic that goes against the diversity and the color of The Flower Kings. The only thing to do is to acquire the limited edition and enjoy pieces composed by Tomas Bodin or Jonas Reingold. What I really mean with all this introduction is that if we expected the releases with less expectations we would be able to do constructive reviews and we wouldn't irritate so much.
The band is formed, for the ones that still don't know them, by Roine Stolt (voice, guitars, keyboards), Jonas Reingold (bass), Tomas Bodin (keyboards), Jaime Salazar (drums), and the contribution as usual of Hasse Froberg (voices) and Hasse Brunuisson (percussion), Ulf Wallander (soprano saxophone ), creating a CD where, as I commented, we will find passages of intense, imaginative and strong progressive power that will remember its more risked records with large spaces dedicated to the vocal work, with pieces based on intense melodies similar to its previous work.
The first half of the CD is perhaps the most worked instrumentally, plenty of developments guided by the guitar of Roine, a guitar that has become a trademark within the band. That Arabic touch with those introductions of great and electric energy; like the piece that opens the record called "Last minute on earth" (11:40). This song alternates pieces of exciting power with zones of strong vocal melodies taken over by Hasse Froberg that, in this record, appears much more that the previous ones. "World without to Heart" (4:29) is a sample (already from the beginning to have just an idea) of the turn to the more simple structures that Mr.Stolt seams to be experiencing. A melancholy and pleasant song that doesn't bother too much, as it is between the previous one and this "Road to Sanctuary" (13:50). A third piece with an introduction where all the instruments steps out strongly, mainly the keyboards giving a great rapidity and agility. A beginning that flows into a powerful chorus. It is a changing song, with many different flavors that go from the frantic rhythms of Jonas Reingold and Jaime Salazar to the quiet and lyrical acoustics guitar moments or the keys of Bodin. Maybe the best piece of the CD. And we follow up with "The Rainmaker" (6:02), a composition that I like very much. An instrumental and not very long piece, composed by a simple, small and exciting riff of guitar inside a big wrap of keyboards, that takes off from the silence and arrives to the musical climax, drawing a pretty and amazing crescendo. "City of angels" (12:04) is a song that, in spite of its long timing, doesn't have much inside of it. It is filled in by the vocal exercises of Hasse Froberg and Roine Stolt, shared with moments of intense hard edge guitar playing. The second part of the record is much relaxed.
The simple "Elaine" (4:55). A sweet melody accompanied by a guitar ALAHackett (in the beginning similar to "Entangled" or "Ripples"), later the piece becomes more jazzy with the spectacular intervention of Jonas. "Thru the walls" (4:31) does not leave the Genesis flavor, with a happier rhythm. The main piece of the song is the voice of Roine accompanied by the keyboards of Bodin. The relaxation of these two pieces breaks with "Sword of god" (6:00) a composition that could have been included in the "Flower Power" record because of its instrumental power and its changing form. One of the best pieces. The next one is a different one but not less entertaining "Blessing of to smile" (3:12), an exciting keyboard and guitar exercise of great volume and intensity. "Red alert" (1:10) is a small introduction that leads to the last song of the record, titled "Serious dreamer" (8:59). A happy melody between a great progressive song and a more poppy composition. Full of interesting environments and developments of classical prog-rock, accompanied by melodies of easy understanding. The official CD has come to end but the people from Inside Out give us the opportunity of acquiring the limited edition. An edition that comes with an additional CD and that contains 6 compositions plus two movies, where we can see the group covering the "Gates of delirium" from Yes and "Hey Jude" from the Beatles. I just want to point that inside this CD we find two pearls that can amuse you a lot (I don't understand why they haven't included in the official one). "One whole half" (5:16) composed by Jonas Reingold and "Violent Brat" (4:31) from Tomas Bodin. Simply impressive.
It could have been very easy for me to destroy this new release of the Swedish kings, and I am sure that many people will do it, but I didn't desire to speak about the differences and the marvelous things that were inside their nineties records. The Flower Kings are not neither Marillion nor the Spock's Beard, they keep on doing prog-rock, although sometimes we are not fully satisfied with their work but, as I told you, they keep on doing progressive music.