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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Flower Kings

Adam and Eve

Review by Steve Alspach

They're nothing if not prolific. Sweden's Flower Kings are back with another excellent offering of lengthy numbers and shorter, more accessible tunes. The band has stuck with the single-CD format this time around, with Roine Stolt manning the producer's chair. Like all other Flower King albums, Adam and Eve has top-notch musicianship, its lyrics offer much to think about, and takes several listens for the nuances to come to the surface.

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Track by Track Review
Love Supreme
Not to be confused with John Coltrane's magnum opus, this song has a few similarities to "The Truth Will Set You Free" from their previous studio effort, "Unfold the Future", such as its length (19:43 - they're just adamant on starting their albums with a bang, aren't they?) and Hasse Froberg's crystalline vocals. The first movement, though, carries quite well through the first ten minutes. The second part is a bit folk-tinged in the verse with Stolt taking the lead. Among the longer songs in the band's catalogue, this piece achieves a sense of unity rarely matched.
Cosmic Circus
This is one of the band's most conventional songs. Perhaps with Roine Stolt as producer he is taking the Flower Kings to open up a more accessible style to their songs.
Babylon
A Tomas Bodin-penned instrumental, this composition offers an interesting mix between Bodin's more stately keyboards and the bouncy rhythm laid down by bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Zoltan Csorcz.
A Vampire View
Pulling double duty with Pain of Salvation, Daniel Gildenlow takes the lead vocals on this one, and a better choice could not have been made. The song takes a uncharacteristic turn in the middle, though, where the melody seems to belie the tension of the track and Gildenlow's angst.
Days Gone By
Perhaps a coda to the previous number, this is another instrumental by Bodin. This short (1:13) piano waltz evokes images of old dance halls that have fallen victim to, as Joni Mitchell once put it, "Time and other thieves."
Adam and Eve
A blood-curdling wail, courtesy of Daniel Gildenlow, kicks things off. This song takes a direct look at struggles between the spiritual life and the not-so-pretty secular world of drugs and sex as Gildenlow handles the vocals. The first part of the cut, with its heavy rhythm, reflects the street life, but the bridge softens the edges and offers Stolt's philosophical take of the situation.
Starlight Man
Another short-but-sweet offering, this one has Stolt singing the verses and Froberg on the chorus. Perhaps the Kings are trying to get some radio airplay, but if so, this isn't a bad way to start.
Timelines
Sandwiched between the raucous ¾ intro and outro is an almost Steely Dan-like jazz undercurrent. Stolt picks this opportunity for a well-placed guitar solo.
Driver's Seat
The other big bookend to this CD, "Driver's Seat" clocks in at an even 1,100 seconds (you do the math). The first part has a sharp bounce to it, and Stolt and Bodin trade the spotlight while Csorcz shows his ample flash on drums. The band, and especially Csorcz, get a little loose after the second movement before grabbing the reins and virtually winding down at the 11:00 mark. Slowly the band starts up into the third movement, a swaggering rock feel. The fourth movement is a bit enigmatic but seems to reflect an underlying theme of time, fate, and establishing your place in life. The track wraps up with a statement of a theme from the intro .
The Blade of Cain
The band close with an instrumental where the guitar takes the lead through a rather symphonic movement, but the piece shifts to an acoustic base where the central line of the opening track ("It shines even brighter with a love supreme, all the work of the master's hand") is repeated.
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