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coverpic flag Sweden - Full Moon 63 - 11/30/01

The Flower Kings
The Rainmaker
InsideOut Music

The land of ABBA has served the world some of the finest in prog-rock delights for many years now, and continue to do so in the 21st century.

The musical output of the Flower Kings is impressive. Since 1995 there have been 6 studio releases (including the current one), two of them being double, and one double live CD. Considering most of the material is written by singer/guitarist Roine Stolt - who has also released two solo albums *and* found the time to record two CDs with prog supergroup Transatlantic - this is pretty amazing.

And one would be forgiven to think that the quality of the music surely must be suffering when the quantity is so high. But listen to The Rainmaker and discover that it isn't so. The Flower Kings are continuously developing their sound, while Stolt's songwriting is still exciting and original. He has taken the best parts of 70s prog rock like Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, and created a modern, melodic rock sound that lifts the spirit and delights the heart.

Noticeable differences from previous Flower Kings albums are a slightly more funky sound and sections that are much heavier than what has until now been typical for the band. Drummer Jamie Salazar, who left the band on friendly terms shortly after recording this album, is definitely going out on a high note here, his drumming is rock solid, inventive, and very exciting throughout the album. Meanwhile, Roine Stolt's guitar playing emerges from inside some mysterious wormhole bridging the gap between Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp and Steve Howe. There are lovely passages of classical guitar, lush 12-string chords, emotive solos, and some his heaviest riffs ever. Sword of God comes to mind as the definitive hard rock statement of the band.

Singer/guitarist Hasse Fröberg has also been given a lot more space to sing lead vocals on The Rainmaker, which gives the band an even more diverse sound than before. Fröberg's voice soars higher than Stolt's, almost going into Jon Anderson territory at times. The contrast between the two singers work very well.

There are of course the long and symphonic songs that the Flower Kings do so well, like the album opener Last Minute on Earth, with Roine Stolt riffing hard during the opening, then Fröberg comes in to ask you what you'd like to do during your last minute on this planet. Another high point is the 12 minute "City of Angels", with wonderful melodies from master keyboardist Tomas Bodin, and grandiose vocal harmonies in the chorus. Further into the same song, bassist Jonas Reingold gets a nice solo spot with his fretless bass.

And I think the cover design should be mentioned as well, as Roine Stolt has at last left that job to the professionals. His psychedelic aestethics-be-damned approach, while fun, made lyrics-reading very hard on the eyes sometimes.

The Flower Kings have picked up the torch of the soaring, symphonic art rock of the 70s, and do it with conviction.

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