The Flower Kings

Picture of The Flower Kings

Space Revolver

The Flower Kings - Space Revolver ©2000 InsideOut Music
1. I Am The Sun (part One)
2. Dream On Dreamer
3. Rumble Fish Twist
4. Monster Within
5. Chicken Farmer Song
6. Underdog
7. You Don't Know What You've Got
8. Slave To Money
9. A King's Prayer
10. I Am The Sun (part Two)

Flower Kings are arguably one of the most popular "prog" bands of the 90s, and pride themselves on being chockful of cheesy melodies and more retrocrap than you can shake the last Oasis album at. The reason I use quotes around "prog" is because this is essentially a big throwback to various bands of the 70s and not very progressive at all. Now don't get me wrong as harking back to the days of yore isn't necessarily a bad thing; just look at Änglagård for a perfect example of someone who sounded like they belonged in the 70s, yet still managed to write wholly compelling music. Flower Kings on the other hand, only compel me to write negative reviews about them.

For what it's worth, this is probably the best album I've heard by these guys so far, no doubt helped by the fact that they trimmed it down to just one long CD, though one that's still chocked with filler. There's certainly moments to be found, the almost instrumental Zappa-fusionish "Rumblefishtwist" is fun, and some of the more rocking bits aren't half bad, but Flower Kings are the perfect example of toothless, tedious and tacky rock music. Roine "Kaipa" Stolt is, of course, the brains behind this thing, Flower Kings having root in one of his solo albums, and his melodic sense really clash with my own, so I can't help but feel that this is just one big cheesefest, boring AORy melodies abound and all. Though the epic two-part, twenty-five minutes in all, "I am the sun" has its moment, not to mention the wimpiest metal-ish moments I've heard since Kamelot's last album. "Monster Within" and "Chicken Farmer Song" aren't entirely terrible either, but I really see no reason to recommend this to anyone but those who really want a band that's very aesthetically "prog" and a pleasant album to have on in the background, which doesn't ask for too much from the listener.

The production is clear and fairly varied, which is nice, but the album has that polished studio sound which lacks much nerve. Definitely not for those about to rock. I have nothing negative to say of the actual playing, as these are definitely musicians who have been around for a while, and who are able to gel very nicely. And the best parts of the album are when they cut loose in some of the instrumental sections. Roine's vocals are very earthy. Heck, he sounds like a pleasant uncle - which can be good or bad, depending on your point of view, but he fits the music pretty well. You can safely file these guys together with Spock's Beard and Transatlantic, and chances are that if you like either of those bands, you'll also like these guys.

If names like Pendragon, IQ and Arena fill you with excitement, then you should definitely pick up this lump of crap. But if what you really want to do is hear some relatively new symphonic progrock bands, you'd be better off checking out the aformentioned Änglagård's Hybris or After Crying's De Profundis.

Review by Øystein H-O

Review date: 07/2002

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The Rainmaker

The Flower Kings - The Rainmaker ©2001 InsideOut Music
1. Last Minute On Earth
2. World Without A Heart
3. Road To Sanctuary
4. The Rainmaker
5. City Of Angels
6. Elaine
7. Thru The Walls
8. Sword Of God
9. Blessing Of A Smile
10. Red Alert
11. Serious Dreamers

What can I say about The Flower Kings that has not already been said repeatedly through the years? They do one thing and they do it very well, which is consistently release albums of outstanding progressive rock. This album is no exception. It is firmly rooted in the 1970s tradition of bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, Nektar, Genesis and Gentle Giant, to name only a few.

One of the things that typifies The Flower Kings is the wealth of material they pack into their songs. The resulting songs are usually very long and this disc has three tracks clocking in at twelve minutes plus. But unlike some of their earlier double CD releases, the remaining tracks are shorter but no less well executed for it.

The melodies on this disc are a bit different from the norm for The Flower Kings. If music could be said to have a tactile element, the typical Flower Kings melody might feel "slippery" in that they are difficult to grasp. It is as though you see something at the corner of your eye, but when you turn to look, it is gone. These evasive melodies have a feel of being done ad lib. But then you listen closely and notice there is a very complex underlying structure to them. While it may sound like a free flowing jam session with no walls, it is really very tightly confined and each step has been choreographed from every direction to mesh with everything around it. The structures on this disc, however, are different in that the ad lib feeling is all but gone. The evasive sense of structure is gone, and the melodies are quite accessible. They are still tightly regimented and carefully put together, but the result this time is that they are more predictable. There are fewer surprises in the songs. I don't feel this detracts from the disc, quite the opposite. Don't get me wrong, this disc will not spoon-feed you its contents. Neither will you have to struggle to grasp the music.

All in all, this is a great disc from a band that is noted for producing great discs.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 12/2001

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Unfold The Future

The Flower Kings - Unfold The Future ©2002 InsideOut Music
CD one:
1. The Truth Will Set You Free
2. Monkey Business
3. Black And White
4. Christianopel
5. Silent Inferno
6. The Navigator
7. Vox Humana
CD two:
8. Genie In A Bottle
9. Fast Lane
10. Grand Old World
11. Soul Vortex
12. Rollin The Dice
13. The Devils Danceschool
14. Man Overboard
15. Solitary Shell
16. Devils Playground

Tedious doesn't even begin to describe the experience of listening to this two CD Flower Kings release. Unfold the Future is excess and indulgence at its musical worst and despite all the ability the band displays, there is nothing more I would enjoy than never having to tolerate this album again.

Can you guess I don't care for this?

Unfold the Future is a double CD for the Flower Kings, something they've apparently made quite a career doing. So one is subjected to over two hours of overblown, so-called "progressive" rock that mostly borrows from the past and offers it within the context of sprawling song structures. It's one of those CDs that doesn't sound too bad, until you start paying attention to it. To some ears, this actually comes across like elevator muzak. Even worse, and in particular on the second CD, this music veers dangerously close to being something that would show up with alarmingly frequency on adult easy listening stations. Maybe being "progressive" means you have to take your teeth out and act as meek as possible, taking all inferences to rock out of your music. Or maybe this is what aging 70s music fans listen to as they near the nursing home.

I find it interesting that the more truly musically challenging bands can trim away all the fat and gristle and offer just as much musical information in maybe one quarter of the time. Unfold the Future is nothing more than an exercise is pointless musical indulgence.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2004

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