The Flower Kings - Banks Of Eden
Roine Stolt's The Flower Kings have always been different to the usual overblown prog crowd, with their chirpy, happy epics making a pleasant change from the usual harbingers of doom and gloom. Now back after a short hiatus with Banks Of Eden, it's business as usual. The opening 26-minute 'Numbers' is undoubtedly the centrepiece, and follows the standard rules of technical wizardry, multiple sections and reoccurring themes, all passed through The Flower Kings' unique filter. This won't surprise anyone, but on the flipside this is as good as they have sounded for an age.
The remaining four songs are somewhat overshadowed by the gargantuan start, but do still hold a renewed vigour. Also very pleasing to the ear is the lack of anything extraneous on the album; too frequently The Flower Kings have packed records with absolutely everything, leaving past albums bloated and drowning in too much mediocrity, but not on Banks Of Eden where we are treated to a far more slimline offering with very little feeling forced or unnecessary. Welcome back, your majesties.