The Flower Kings – Desolation Rose

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Review by Dean Pedley

Cinematic, melodic, symphonic, and at all times Prog with a capital P, Sweden’s The Flower Kings return with Desolation Rose, a brand new ten-song cycle that comes along as something of a swiftly released follow-up to 2012’s Banks Of Eden. Returning from a five year self-imposed hiatus, The Flower Kings found the prog scene much changed, no longer were they one of the band’s name checked as being on the cusp of bigger and better things having been overtaken by the next generation. Pleasingly both Desolation Rose and its predecessor evidence that The Flower Kings have not run out of ideas and the band, guided as always by Roine Stolt, are now once again in rude health, sounding refreshed and revitalised after their absence.

Terrific prog albums always start with an epic and Desolation Rose is no exception, the thirteen minute plus ‘Tower ONE’ complete with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arrangement and littered with vintage keyboards; mellotron, Hammond, mini-moog and more all make their presence keenly felt. Echoes of The Beatles, Yes, Genesis and even classic It Bites are sprinkled throughout what is very much a keyboards rich album, no better emphasised than with the grand piano and swirling synths of ‘Desolation Road’. Stolt has described some of the themes as being “perpetual war, famine, environmental threats, religious conflicts (that) dominate the media and our minds” and the ghosts of Vietnam and Nixon are felt throughout the angst ridden ‘White Tuxedo’ and the even more gloomy ‘Dark Fascist Skies’.

Emotive vocal lines, down tuned melodies, dynamic shifts in tempo and intricate and at times even Zappa-esque solos seem to appear around every corner and there is no doubting that The Flower Kings remain very much a prog rock tour de force. With Desolation Rose The Flower Kings have added another great album to their impressive canon, now how about some UK dates early in 2014?

The Flower Kings – Desolation Rose8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Tower ONE
  2. Sleeping Bones
  3. Desolation Road
  4. White Tuxedos
  5. The Resurrected Judas
  6. Silent Masses
  7. Last Carnivor
  8. Dark Fascist Skies
  9. Blood of Eden
  10. Silent Graveyards