The Flower Kings - 'Desolation Rose'

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TFK are certainly back and showing great form.

For a while it looked as if The Flower Kings (TFK) were no more as they went quiet after 2007s 'The Sum of No Evil'. Fortunately the break reignited their flame and they reappeared with 2012s splendid 'Banks of Eden'.

The reformation has provided them with renewed impetus and I was amazed when the promo of this album unexpectedly arrived. I'd been unaware they were recording a new album but delighted they have, not least because straight out the box I liked what I heard.

They don't mess about getting to one of their gloriously melodic refrains as it's only seconds into opening track, 'Tower ONE' that the first of any number of beautiful themes evident across the album appears. This epic number (all thirteen minutes of it) will undoubtedly become a live favourite as it features several of those great themes and uses the sharing of vocal lead between Roine Stolt and Hasse Fröberg quite brilliantly; their contrasting styles being one of the reasons I enjoy the band's music and arrangements so much. Joyous melodies are the band's hallmark and they don't disappoint on this album.

There are times when I find TFK a bit too jazzy or psychedelic for my taste, but my immediate impression was that there weren't many of these moments present this time around. 'Sleeping Bones' gets heavy during some of the instrumental sections but remains tuneful throughout. 'Desolation Road' has another infectious chorus. The piano work from Tomas Bodin brings forth a Dream Theater vibe at times.

Effectively, the album is a continuous piece of music as each track melds into the next, however the individual tracks are kept fairly short, shorter than one has come to expect from TFK. 'White Tuxedos' uses an effect on the vocals and it works. 'The Resurrected Judas' is typically languid TFK when Stolt sings and upping the power as Fröberg takes over.

The subject matter of the album may be dark and deep but in the main the music belies the topic. Stolt's guitar playing is as wonderful as ever and the rhythm section of Jonas Reingold and Felix Lehrmann are immense throughout.

TFK are certainly back and showing great form.

Gary Marshall

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