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The Flower Kings: Islands
The Flower Kings - Islands Album Art

The Flower Kings: Islands

Melodic Progressive Rock
4.5/5.0

Almost a year ago Roine Stolt and The Flower Kings released their thirteenth album Waiting For Miracles, the first in six years. Of course, in support of the album, the band expected to hit the road for shows and festivals in 2020. But then this thing called a pandemic hit and COVID19 spread across the globe. Now what? Sit idly by? Nope. The Flower Kings went about doing what comes naturally, write and record new music by creating and composing together via the Internet.

The Flower Kings - Click For Larger Image

The Flower Kings

The result is Islands, another double album of 21 songs over 45 minutes. Stolt describes the album this way: The theme of the album is isolation - so the title "Islands" felt like a most relevant title - as much of it circulates around isolation, loss, and the fear of being disconnected. Having to face this unexpected pandemic will leave marks on each one of us for a very long time and to lose loved ones forces us to soldier on, learning and growing a stronger version of ourselves in this fragile cycle of life.

Musically, Islands is quintessential Flower Kings: dynamic and creative melodic progressive rock with the usual twists and turns of musical agility and intrigue. What astonishes this listener is, after the mammoth breadth and depth of Waiting For A Miracle, how does Stolt and friends crank out another double album gem? My only answer is: genius, creativity, and an incredible cooperative work ethic.

I will not attempt to opine on 21 songs, but rather make some general observations and highlight a few favorites. First, and as expected, like any Flower Kings album, Islands will require several listens to capture the nuances of the arrangements. But you already know that. Writing this, I'm on my second listen and, even having written notes on each song the first time, I'm hearing more music. A second observation is simply how pronounced the bass lines are across the album. Production on a Flower Kings album always benefits each musician and instrument, yet Jonas Reingold bass work rises quite nicely.

Third, and I touched on this earlier, there's the diversity in the songs. Like the full blown prog rock with some jazz fusion of Racing With the Blinders On. Or the jazzy prog of the segue Hidden Angels and the following Serpentine, saxophone noted. And I'm pretty sure the sax returns within All I Need Is Love, another mixed prog fusion with a hint of Hammond. With Morning News the music is lighter rock, yet the musical subtlety is blended with a spunky groove. Speaking to the bass again, the longer Solaris, at the midpoint, benefits from a skillful breakdown featuring bass, then adding drums and synths for an extend prog foray. Finally, Islands is once more a showcase for Roine Stolt's skillful guitar work with fine solos within, among others, Racing With Blinders On, Looking For Answers, and Telescope, a favorite.

Almost all things considered, yet simply stated, The Flower Kings' Islands is another creative, intriguing, and highly entertaining album of melodic progressive rock from these talented musicians. Quite recommended.




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The Bottom Line

Almost all things considered, yet simply stated, The Flower Kings' Islands is another creative, intriguing, and highly entertaining album of melodic progressive rock from these talented musicians. Quite recommended.

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