It has only been a year since the amazing album Banks Of Eden (2012, see review) came out and now The Flower Kings − the prog masters of Sweden − have already returned with another prog rock gem called Desolation Rose. This new album was recorded live in the studio and the sound is coloured by grand vintage keyboards galore like the Mellotron M400 and the Hammond B3, just to name a few. Desolation Rose is a kind of concept album which lyrically deals with mankind's failure to create the paradise they once hoped for, and the greed, fear and ignorance causing that failure.
The ten songs definitely have a heavier edge, but are still modern-day progressive rock songs with lots of variety and with Roine Stolt's voice and guitar as the key elements. Opening track Tower One, which lasts over thirteen minutes, is a perfect start featuring beautiful guitar melodies and excellent keyboard layers providing the song an extra dimension. It marks this one as my favourite album title. Another highlight would be The Resurrection Of Judas, which features a couple of nice acoustic guitar passages and beautiful keys before Stolt's lead guitar makes it a prog rock gem. Some parts and melodies of this excellent song made me think of Genesis.
White Tuxedos opens with parts of a speech of the former US president Richard Nixon; it deals with political anxiety. Musically this track is rather dark, but the breathtaking melodic guitar solos take this song to another level. Dark Fascist Skies − another great song title by the way − kicks off with rather heavy guitars and keyboards and then evolves into a melancholic song. The title track is a fairly short song of just four minutes − at least for The Flower Kings standards − and it's probably the catchiest track of the entire album, while the last two songs are slower and acoustic based. The penultimate track Blood Of Eden is a great piece with beautiful lyrics and the final track Silent Graveyards contains guitars and lots of keyboards.
Well, in my opinion Roine Stolt & Co have done it again as Desolation Rose is a great progressive rock album which you should give time to grow on you because the music and the lyrics are rather complex. The more you listen to this album, the more you're going to love it. If you've never heard an album of The Flower Kings, which is rather unlikely, then Desolation Rose is your chance to appreciate this great band. If you're a fan, then this CD is an obliged purchase!
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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