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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Flower Kings

Banks of Eden (Inside Out Music)

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After a five-year hiatus during which members of The Flower Kings pursued outside projects, the Swedish proggers return with the long-awaited Banks of Eden. A beautiful-sounding album with all of the band's signatures—symphonic flourishes, a dash of jazz and a hint of blues—Banks of Eden unexpectedly eschews epics in favor of shorter songs that go off in heavy directions with dark undercurrents. “Pandemonium,” for example, opens with something that could have been lifted from The Yes Album before the mood turns apocalyptic. Bandleader Roine Stolt's guitar histrionics dominate these five tracks, fueled by a greater sense of melody and purpose. Longtime fans need not fear, though: Sprawling leadoff track “Numbers” runs for 25 minutes and invokes all of The Flower Kings' influences—from Genesis to Stravinsky.

A second disc includes four bonus tracks totaling only 21 minutes, and all four of them could have (should have) fit on the main disc; they're too good to be considered throwaways.


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