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The Flower Kings - Desolation Rose

[28th October 2013]
[InsideOut Music]

01. Tower ONE
02. Sleeping Bones
03. Desolation Road
04. White Tuxedos
05. The Resurrected Judas
06. Silent Masses
07. Last Carnivore
08. Dark Fascist Skies
09. Blood Of Eden
10. Silent Graveyards


The Flower Kings are a progressive rock group hailing from the cold, northern lands of Sweden. Their sound is similar to that of Yes; they play symphonic prog rock with dynamic shifts, extended song lengths, heavy use of bass (Chris Squire’s influence is large), grandiose and occasionally nonsensical lyrical themes, and polyrhythms. Their career has spanned 11 albums since 1994, featuring over 18 hours of music. Legendary prog metal musician Daniel Gildenlow of Pain of Salvation was with the band for a time, including their finest album Unfold the Future, but left in 2004.

Following up on the heels of 2012’s Banks of Eden album, The Flower Kings have turned around and made their 12th full length album Desolation Rose, which was released in October.

One cannot escape the feeling that The Flower Kings embody all the negative stereotypes of prog rock that cause potential listeners to dismiss it. There are some great ideas, but it is smothered in pomposity and self-indulgence without the balance of having good and memorable songwriting. “White Tuxedos” is the perfect example of that; it feels completely forced and unnecessary. Unfortunately, it follows up one of the best songs on the album – “Desolation Road” – which has a really dusty and bleak tone that evolves into something vast and ultimately very enjoyable, and is revisited in the album’s closing track “Silent Graveyards”. Similarly, “Dark Facist Skies” is also quite enjoyable, being a groovy, marching piece of prog rock. Of course, that moment of glory is followed up by a completely useless exploration in soft rock that bores the pants off the listener.

The production, at least, is done well. It sounds really full of life and rich, something that it does do better than the classic prog albums. Since it has the advantage of 40 years of technological advances behind it though, it is hard to really consider that a plus for the album. Were this released in the heyday of prog, it would likely be ignored in favour of the bigger names.

Guitarist/vocalist Roine Stolt has a great voice to listen though; somewhat similar to Trevor Horn, but with more ’dust’ in it. The band clearly have chemistry together – they have, after all, been doing this for two decades, with a couple of good albums under their collective belt. The bassline on “Tower ONE” is excellent along with superb drumming, and that song is one of the best on the album.

The Flower Kings are a prog rock band with all the clichés that come with being one, and this album really doesn’t do anything to change that. They are obviously veterans of the genre- having made albums for nearly 20 years – and very clearly have the musical talent to write top notch prog rock. There is no questioning their dedication to the genre, but here they are simply inconsistent in their songwriting. Desolation Rose has a couple of shining moments displaying the true potential of the band, but there are also some very bad moments.

Best songs: “Desolation Road” “Dark Facist Skies” “Tower ONE


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