The Swedish musician Hasse Fröberg is probably best known for his contributions to The Flower Kings. As his two albums Future Past (2010, see review) and Powerplay (2012, see review), made with his own band Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion,already made clear, he is capable of making excellent progressive rock music without the help of the members of TFK. In early 2015, he and his excellent band released their third album, titled HFMC. The album title is of course the name of his band, but this time using only the capitol letters. I guess in a way, he wanted to express his feeling that the album is a real band effort and nothing else-not a solo album with guest musicians. The credits go purely to the guys in his band who helped him to make it possible to have a career next to TFK.
His fellow band members are excellent musicians-something I already noticed on the earlier mentioned albums but also on stage where they are capable of putting on a perfect show. This is something I noticed myself when I witnessed their performance in the Netherlands at Lakei in Helmond in July of 2012 (see review). That Hasse made it possible to keep his line-up intact shows off on their latest studio album. On HFMC you can hear that Hasse Fröberg (vocals, guitar), Anton Lindsjö (lead guitar), Ola Strandberg (drums), Kjell Haraldsson (keyboards) and Thomas Thomsson (bass) have grown over the years and sound like a well oiled musical machine.
The album that starts and ends with the sound of a clock ticking (lyric wise the songs are about how we see and experience time), is as far as I know the best album Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion made so far. With more than one hour of music, the album has the best possible progressive rock you can wish for. It's obvious that a lot of influences can be heard throughout the entire album and among them are The Flower Kings, which is obvious. Most of all, the excellent guitar and keyboard parts move into this direction, but also a band such as Yes can be heard-and most of all on the track Pages which sounds like a part of their song I've Seen All Good People taken from the Yes Album (1971). A less obvious influence are The Beatles which you can hear on the intro of Everything Can Change-a composition which has influences of jazz as the piano parts reveal. Not only progressive rock influences can be heard and that's notable on Can't Stop The Clock. Here are catchy pop tunes mixed with heavy hard rock guitar parts. They made a rather good looking video of the song too-a good choice because the song has certainly hit potential. The best pieces of music on this release are without a doubt the three epics Pages, In The Warmth Of The Evening and Someone Else's Fault-compositions that are the most adventurous of all and include many superb instrumental parts. The synthesizer and guitar solos that are on them are of a very high level and most of all very enjoyable.
Anybody who hears HFMC can conclude that this is an album which The Flower Kings should have made in the last couple of years. This release is a far better album as Fröberg's other band managed to come up with since Unfold The Future (2002). Fans of TFK will embrace HFMC with open arms. They will hear a band that plays with passion and at the same time shows their high level of musicianship throughout the whole album. All of the compositions have-music wise-something to tell and are not just fillers. Hasse Fröberg has managed to maintain the very good level of its previous album by offering us once again, a series of perfect, structurally sound compositions offering the listener complex and attractive progressive rock. One of the best progressive rock releases of 2015 without doubt.
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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