The Flower Kings - 'Banks Of Eden'

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The Flower Kings - 'Banks Of Eden'

TFK are back in style.

It’s been five long years since The Flower Kings’ (TFK) last studio output (‘The Sum of No Evil’), the reasons are explored in the interview elsewhere in this issue, but they’re finally back and with an album that will make their fan base very happy indeed.

Fittingly the epic (25 minute) ‘Numbers’ opens with a fanfare to announce their return before the track wends its way through all manner of themes, tempos and styles. One of the things I take from this song is a very slight toughening of the usually smooth TFK style; it’s not a radical by any means just a tweak of heaviness. This, to me, is classic Prog as over the length of the track there is so much variety yet it remains cohesive and flows so naturally. Early on the different vocal styles of Roine Stolt and Hasse Fröberg are alternated to fine effect whilst the usual sublime melodies are present, as one has come to expect. Stolt delivers several superb guitar solos each having a different feel; some with a grittier edge than we’re used to from him. New drummer Felix Lehrmann is clearly a great addition to the band and demonstrates his undoubted ability with some lovely runs, as always Jonas Reingold’s bass work is delicious while Tomas Bodin’s keyboards underpin everything quite wonderfully, and that’s just the first track.

‘For The Love Of Gold’ has Bodin delivering another fabulous opening salvo of keyboards before the song hits a mid tempo beat and Fröberg lays down a beautiful vocal melody. The lightness of the tune belies the tone and message of the lyrics which is rather neat. On the subject of Bodin, his keyboards may not feature in a solo capacity very often but his sound is crucial to TFK. If you just listen to his soundscapes you realise how fundamental they are to the band’s material.

‘Pandemonium’ has a terrific instrumental passage to set it on its way; but the use of a processed vocal had me worried the first few times I heard it but in the context of the song it works because it’s not used throughout. Once more the melody is absolutely sublime; these guys seem able to produce memorable tunes so easily. ‘For Those About To Drown’ has yet another melody that gets into your head and the use of the two vocal styles in the same song works so well with Stolt taking the verses and Fröberg injecting the choruses with his Rock edge. Closing number, ‘Rising The Imperial’, is beautiful in its construction. An initially gentle and plaintive song it builds in power in and is punctuated by a couple of classic Stolt solos. Once again the themes are terrific and after just a couple of plays I found myself humming refrains from it.

After fearing the hiatus might mean that TFK were no more, I can say with much relief that they are back in style.

Gary Marshall

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