Sweden - Full Moon 63 - 11/30/01
The Flower Kings
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
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.
Copyright © 2001 Kentil'zha