Nine studio albums and two live albums in only ten years, side-projects (Karmakanic, Transatlantic), solo projects, collaborations,... Definitely Roine Stolt´s fans haven´t the same problems of Dire Straits´ fans waiting for new material.
The line up is the same as in “Unfold the Future”: Roine Stolt (vocals, electric & acoustic guitars), Tomas Bodin (keyboards), Hans Fröberg (vocals), Daniel Gildenlöw (vocals), Jonas Reingold (bass), Zoltan Csörsz (drums), Hasse Bruniusson (percussion). Ulf Wallander is the only musician who doesn´t play here.
Although it´s a single album, don´t worry..The Flower Kings are not happy releasing a forty minutes long album, so you´ll enjoy with 79 minutes of your favorite band divided into ten tracks with a length from around one minute (“Days gone by”) to twenty minutes (“Love Supreme” and “Drivers Seat”). All of this is completed with the ugliest cover art I´ve seen in years (painted by Ciruelo Cabral an Argentinean artist settled in Spain).
From the start “Love Supreme” (19:50) is a great suite that takes us to the sounds of “Retropolis” or “Stardust we are”. The band doesn´t play any experimentation close to jazz rock and offers the listener twenty minutes of “old school” prog rock, with imaginative changes of intensity, different climax throughout the minutes, and impressive guitar solos by Stolt wisely wrapped by Bodin´s keyboards.
“Cosmic Circus” (3:00) is a harmless but effective acoustic track with imaginative percussions, a good bass, and keyboards with “classic” sound. The track fades into “Babylon” (2:41), one of the two tracks composed only by Bodin. As you can imagine, keyboards lead the song accompanied by Stolt´s guitar. The dark side of the Kings comes with “A Vampire´s View” (8:50), with an intro a la Goblin. The track combines mysterious atmospheres with melodic ambient's (it reminds me, in its structure, to Hackett´s “Vampire with a healthy appetite”), with some cinematographic resources in the percussions and with a typically Flower´s chorus. The final guitar solo is amazing. The tracks fades into “Days gone by” (1:10), also composed by Bodin, with a nice piano that creates a decadent aroma of early 19th Century.
Gildenlöw´s influences can be noticed in “Adam & Eve” (7:50), a song very heavy and far from the typical Kings´ sound. Here we can find some powerful moments, both in guitars and the way of singing. Of course the spirit of the band can also be noticed here in instrumental passages (and mainly in the final minutes), but I think this track can be a starting point for new ways of composing.
“Starlight Man” (3:30) is a quiet track, very Yes, that doesn´t mean anything to me except for Jonas´ bass. And speaking of Jonas, the crazy bass player composes, with Stolt, the next track “Timelines” (7:40), perhaps the most interesting of the whole album, with a mad intro that reminds me of “Circus Brimstone”, later settled down with Stolt´s voice as Csörsz and Bruniusson play with their junk. In the middle of the track there´s a great guitar solo, and finally the madness returns.
“Drivers Seat” (18:20) is another great suite. Maybe it´s not as effective as “Love Supreme” but it´s more interesting because of the clash of ambience and the continuous feeling of “what will happen in the next minute?”. You should listen to the marvelous guitar sound around minute twelve. There aren´t big surprises but here The Flower Kings´ spirit sounds at its best. The closing track “The Blade of Cain” (5:00) is a semi-instrumental cut, very epic and descriptive, with a nice intro with guitar and bass, and a mysterious acoustic end.
Well, this is the portion of The Flower Kings for prog-palates in 2004. Few surprises, a slight return to the band´s classic sounds and, as in other albums, some padding tracks for the fans to recoup their money with more tracks. The presence of three vocalists, the nerve of Gildenlöw, and some changes in structures are the keys that make the difference. I´m sure The Flower Kings fans and progressive fans will enjoy a lot with this album.
By the way.. I prefer one single album with good tracks better than a double album with a 50% of marvelous tracks. So listen to “Adam & Eve”, I´m sure you´ll enjoy a lot with it.