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The Flower Kings – By Royal Decree Award winner

The Flower Kings
By Royal Decree
by Mark Machlay at 18 April 2022, 3:13 PM

The enigmatic progressive rock project from the mind of guitarist and singer/songwriter Roine Stolt known as THE FLOWER KINGS have been on fire these last few years and show no sign of stopping on their latest epic “By Royal Decree” released in early March of this year. Beginning all the way back in 1994 as Stolt wanted to pursue a more progressive rock bent on his third solo album “The Flower King”, the band he formed out of that project would become its own entity and begin releasing material under the name of the album that bore them. Their debut album as a legitimate group came in September 1995 with “Back in the World of Adventures” after performing a series of concerts together in 1994. The band has featured many favorites of the progressive rock community including Daniel Gildenlow of PAIN OF SALVATION and superstar bassist Jonas Reingold and now released 15 albums in their 25 plus year-long career.

They have taken some breaks, of course, with Stolt stating in 2008 after extensive touring that the band had started to feel lost and broke up for a short time before reuniting in 2011 to work on new material. They took another break in 2015 as all the members were busy with various side projects for a couple years. After a brief controversy involving the leaving of longtime collaborator and keyboardist Tomas Bodin, THE FLOWER KINGS would return strong in 2019 with “Waiting for Miracle” followed quickly with “Island” in 2020. With “By Royal Decree”, it is now the third album since introducing drummer Mirko DeMaio and keyboardist Zach Kamins. With virtually no touring to take part in for two years, the band has instead focused entirely on pouring themselves into this new album. In an additional treat, the album is a bit of a retro affair both in the recording process as a test drive for Sweden’s Fenix Studio’s new fully analog Rupert Neve recording desk as well as some of the material being written even before the first album was recorded.

Anyone not already familiar with THE FLOWER KINGS may bauk at the 90 minute runtime of “By Royal Decree” but those of us in the know are now used to the weighty album lengths and are instantly transported into the past with retro sounds of 90s prog – it sounds weird to say but the 90s were nearly 25 years ago. Many songs, such as “World Gone Crazy” while being an apparently older song, the lyrical themes seem so prescient today and takes me back to first discovering bands like these – TRANSATLANTIC immediately comes to mind – with the jazzy, wild nature. almost like an updated Frank Zappa sound. But even before that, opener “The Great Pretender” is a perfect beginning that contains all of the elements – a mix of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, and funk with a healthy dose of 70s prog – that make a great THE FLOWER KINGS record and it’s a wild ride from beginning to end. As I mentioned TRANSATLANTIC earlier there is even a song that reminds me very much of them in “A Million Stars”, wonderful 12-string acoustic guitarwork from Stolt himself.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. The Great Pretender
2. World Gone Crazy
3. Blinded
4. A Million Stars
5. The Soldier
6. The Darkness in You
7. We Can Make It Work
8. Peacock on Parade
9. Revolution
10. Time the Great Healer
11. Letter
12. Evolution
13. Silent Ways
14. Moth
15. The Big Funk
16. Open Your Heart
17. Shrine
18. Funeral Pyres
Roine Stolt - Vocal, El & Ac. 6 & 12 string guitars, Ukulele, Portuguese 12str. guitar, Nylon guitar & Additional keyboards & orchestration
Hasse Fröberg - Vocal & 12string acoustic guitar
Zach Kamins - Organ, Pianos, Synths & Orchestrations
Michael Stolt - Bass, Moog Taurus & Backing vocals
Jonas Reingold - Fretted & Fretless Bass
Mirko DeMaio - Drums, Percussion and additional orchestration
Hasse Bruniusson - Acoustic & Electric Percussion


Jonas Lindberg - Bass
Rob Townsend - Saxophones
Aliaksandr Yasinski - Accordion
Jannica Lund - Backing Vocals
Record Label: InsideOut Music


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