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on November 1, 2013
After listening to this for the past week, it has proven itself to be worthy contender for the best of the multiude of great release in Prog for '13. When the Kings arose from the ashes last year with the grand Banks of Eden, I was a bit leary-until I heard it and was won over immediately. The cohesion and skill of this great band was on fine display yet again. As great as that album is , it was a bit too comfortable with not alot of risks being taken. This album is the antithesis of that. All risk....and great reward! A darker view from the top of the Tower sets the tone on track ONE and that continues thru to the hopeful conclusion of the last 2 tracks. Really this is just one long track, broken in to smaller sections, with simillar themes running thru. Not quite a concept album, but almost. Themed, maybe? Anyways, its all brilliant on disc one. Disc two takes into some more trippy terriitory and this is where the great instrumentals reside. Yep-its all good here in the land of the kings! Not to be missed!
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on November 12, 2013
On this album I hear snippets from pieces on their previous album "Banks Of Eden". Is this because the tracks from these two albums were recorded during the same sessions? I would love to find out. It is not a divergence from the cohesion of this album. You are still listening to a fine work molded into a unique whole. I've listened through this album twice already with no breaks and will do so again a few more times. What I think is missing is the engaging opus that immediately grabs you like 'Numbers' from Banks Of Eden, 'I Am The Sun' from Space Revolver, or 'Garden Of Dreams' from Flower Power. Maybe after a few more listens a song will emerge for me -- one that I'll listen to years from now as I do to the ones I mentioned and others. The longer songs are more of a pastoral, moody and sometimes ominous and unnerving. I found out that the band used some vintage keyboards and amps which definitely helps makes it sound classic and not overproduced or slick.
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on July 18, 2014
Swedish band THE FLOWER KINGS are among the living legends of progressive rock these days, a flagship band in the revival of the genre in the 1990's and a surefire headliner act for just about anyone planning to do a progressive rock festival that wants to draw the crowds in. If we can talk about stars in such a niche environment as progressive rock is, The Flower Kings have been one of the brightest as far as bands that didn't start out in the 1960's or early 70's go. "Desolation Rose" is their 12th studio production, and was released through prestigious label Inside Out in 2013.

Now I do not recall just why this CD came to end up in my stack of CDs to review. I bought this one for my wife as a pre-Christmas gift, the limited edition version with bonus tracks, but can't recall if it subsequently ended up in my stack of CDs to review because she wanted me to write about it or because she had chatted with one of the band members and had promised them I would cover this one. Most likely it is one of those two alternatives though, or that it just happened to be placed in my CD pile accidentally. Still, I do not write about this one because it was sent to me by the label or the artist, which on my case is somewhat unusual.

While I'm obviously familiar with The Flower Kings, they have never been a band that have been that high on my list of music to investigate for some reason or other, possibly it's just a matter of how much time I have at my disposal. They are a quality act of course, always have been and presumably they'll always be so as well, and their meticulous approach to the technical aspects of mixing and production is just one of the top notch qualities about this band. This is an album that should please most audiophiles out there, a well balanced and well assembled production through and through. All instruments are crystal clear, those fond of listening to the details beneath the main motifs and the subtle elements in whatever theme is ongoing will enjoy this album immensely due to this aspect alone.

If you have a taste for retro-oriented symphonic progressive rock you'll obviously have even more to enjoy. Rich cascades of keyboards, organ and Mellotron flavor these compositions with a smorgasbord of sounds, if there is something that can be described as keyboard porn this is it, with elegant guitar soloing on top, in harmony or intertwined in the action of the tangents. As expected from this band the rhythm section is just as excellent, and Roine's vocals, that in my ears have a slight touch of Jon Anderson to them, fits this landscape perfectly.

The songs obviously profit from all of this excellence, but still I didn't find myself getting the goosebumps experience too many times as this disc unfolded. The opening sequence of Tower One actually felt somewhat strained to me for some reason or other, until the first instrumental interlude got going that is. Following that this epic length excursion started to grow quite a bit for me. This also established something of a pattern for me as this CD unfolded. Some songs opened in a not that intriguing manner, growing on me as they unfolded. Title track Desolation Rose another song in that category, The Silent Masses another one.

Other songs gave me goosebumps inducing vibes straight away, like the intriguing Sleeping Bones and later on White Tuxedo as well, but at some point this initial magic faded ever so slightly, the intriguing elements overly used or the song developing in a somewhat less interesting direction. Dark Fascist Skies is the sole exception here though, the generally darker mood an alluring element in itself, and in this case combined with sequences of a less brooding nature that also managed to catch my fancy.

The 8 tracks on the bonus disc gave me a slightly different experience. More varied in style and sound and less cohesive in nature, but more cohesive in terms of my end experience as a listener. From the sheer blatant fun factor of a track like Lazy Monkey to the sacral, cosmic vibes of instrumental Interstellar Variations, the pastoral landscapes of Psalm 2013 and the melancholic mood of concluding piece The Final Era all of these bonus tracks lacked the slight ebb and flow feeling I got from the main album. None of the slightly less alluring parts, but none of the moments of sheer magic either. But a high quality and more than pleasant collection of material it is.

That sums up my impression of "Desolation Rose" quite nicely too. This is, overall, a solid production by a high quality band. If you have a passion for symphonic progressive rock with many vintage qualities, and enjoy that style of music performed by a band whose members appear to have a very high standard on all aspects of the albums they create, this is a CD that deserves your time and attention. Perhaps not the production that will define this band's legacy whenever they decide to retire, but an album that has solid, high quality written all over it.

My rating: 79/100
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on November 18, 2013
It took me awhile to warm up to the Flower Kings. I thought there was too much instrumental doodling and that the songs themselves were weak. I have changed my mind with the release of their last two records! Strong song structures. Killer Guitar!!! I mean is there anybody who solos like this guy.... Their style IS a bit quirky, but it's prog isn't it!
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on January 2, 2014
These guys have been around for a while ! Each release has its high and low points , but this is their best in a few years. The 2CD edition features the "suite" on disc one , and bonus tracks on the second disc.
Roine is one of the best prog guitarists around , and his tasteful licks fill this release.
I have a few prog friends that dismissed the band after "Paradox Hotel" , but after one listen of this , they are back in the fold.
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on September 13, 2015
I like Prog Rock, and therefore like The Flower Kings. I have a dozen of their cds. This one is strange. When I rip disc 2 to one of my computers, it IDs as Steven Wilson's "The Raven that Refused to Sing". And when I rip it to a different computer, it IDs as Steven Wilson's "Drive Home, Disc 1" Anyone else seeing anything strange?
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on December 1, 2013
The best Flower Kings album in years. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love everything these guys do, but this album just kicks butt all the way through from beginning to end. Great sounding, excellent mastering and great song writing.
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on January 9, 2014
I don't keep secret that Unfold the Future is one of my very favorite albums. So this is quite a compliment. Since UtF, only one "Sum of No Evil" really held my attention, and I think DR is about on par with that album. However, I will say the boys have shown some noticeable growth in the past decade. Two things, first, they're finally starting to get good at self editing... or they have a new producer who doesn't let them constantly put out double albums that could very well be one. Those giants like Startdust We Are, Flower Power, Unfold the Future, and Paradox Hotel all greatly suffer from bloat. Lots of mediocre (sometimes terrible) filler tracks, epics that really could be pared down a bit (yes, a progger talking about paring down epics, what a crime), etc. Secondly, they've learned how to write a good short song. I used to have an adage that every Flower Kings track under 5 minutes was completely skipable. Not anymore. Don't let the shorter song lengths fool you, DR has amazing punch and fullness that are usually only found on tracks three times as long.

I'm still just diving into Desolation Rose, but it's a bit of a departure in that it's a very thematic concept album. It's a direct and biting commentary on the state of military affairs in the modern age. FK have skirted around political commentary before, but this is pretty full on. One track in particular, a personal favorite, creepily recounts the use of predator drones in bombing civilian houses. It's a darker side of Flower Kings for sure, though it's not entirely new, FK have shown their dark side before with great success.

My only complaint at all is that Roine seems to be stepping aside more and more vocally. I don't particularly care for Hass Froberg's utra-smooth style, and he's on this album in places where Roine really should be taking center stage. Jonas Reingold adds his voice to the mix a bit more on this album, and he seems to have become a bit more central to the songwriting, as he's credited with more material this time around, not bad for one of my favorite bass players.

All in all, a great storm of an album that sees one of the greatest progressive rock bands of our time return to it's former glory.
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on November 11, 2014
Certainly there are obvious influences: Yes, King Crimson, Jethro Tull ( Tull particularily on Sleeping Bones) and a myriad of progressive rockers over the years, including themselves. But The Flowers Kings have managed to bring prog into contemporay times while remaining true to the genre. This is the best album I have heard this year. Note: I did'nt say Prog album. All the elements that make prog great are here: majestic music, meanigfull lyrics, passionate vocals, multiple time changes and epic songs. I was going to list my favorite stand out tracks, but everytime I listen I'm enthralled by another song.
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on November 29, 2013
Wow, what a fantastic album! Been a Flower Kings fan for close to 10 years and have pretty much all albums, DVD's, solo projects, etc. The last 3 or 4 albums did not really click for me (none since A&E), so I somewhat reluctantly purchased this thinking it would be similar. First listen or two of DR and I was thinking the same, and then on the 5th or 6th play it all came together. Pretty much every track on side one is excellent, and a couple of the bonus tracks (i.e., Interstellar Visitations) are outstanding as well. So psyched that these guys are still together putting out music like this.
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