Flower Kings, The - Paradox Hotel

Year of Release: 2006
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 241
Format: CD
Total Time: 133:13:00

The new Flower Kings album is yet another collection of well over two hours worth of brand new studio material. As written before, this would have been like a four album box set in the vinyl age, something I can't recall ever having been released in the domain of rock music. To make things even more amazing, it is a conceptional story about being on earth for just a short period. This short period obviously being life itself. Instead of the expected bombastic, powerful intro we get a countdown from NASA headquarters. When the countdown finishes and the speaker says: "we have ignition," it is followed by a rather strange result. I won't tell you more as you have to listen for yourself. Needless to say this isn't the real start of the album as this has been reserved for the epic "Monsters & Men." This 21 minute long track contains all the best bits Flower Kings have ever produced condensed into one ball of symphonic delight, a prog lover's orgasm if ever I experienced one! Although for a while we thought PoS mainman Daniel Gildenl?w had become a permanent member of The Flower Kings, he isn't. Nevertheless all the members in the band lend their vocal qualities to make this product ever so varied. "Monsters & Men" is authentic Flower Kings all over and will undoubtedly be the highlight of the band's forthcoming live concerts.

The main duo behind this new Paradox Hotel album are guitarist and leader Roine Stolt together with keyboard player Tomas Bodin who also assisted Roine with the production. Whilst the majority of the material is of a calmer nature, the album does contain a nice variety of atmospheres and unexpected turns. Take the commercial backbone of "Hit Me With A Hit" which evolves into an experimental nature with the band toying with various sounds. The intro for "Pioneers Of Aviation" starts very solemn yet almost evolves into vintage Focus, including some wonderful church organ mixed with Wakeman-like synths. Just listen to Jonas Reingold doing his Chris Squire meets Tony Levin routine. It is the perfect illustration as to why The Flower Kings have to be rated as one of the world's leading prog bands right now. If the situation today was like that of the seventies then Flower Kings were playing for sold out stadiums right now leaving cold Sweden for a place under the LA sun!

The Flower Kings also have an incredible ear for great melodies. "Lucy Had A Dream" is a song which builds up nicely revealing some great melodies. I can already see the lighters being lit when the band performs this little beauty live. In keeping with tradition by also including some humour into their music, kind of a fairground atmosphere sneaks in towards the end. With "Bavarian Skies" you might for a brief period think you are listening to a new Rammstein song including German propaganda speeches, treated voice and an ominous arrangement. It's almost soundtrack quality as it gets very visual with the piano backing the vocals to deliver strong statements. One of my favourites is "Selfconsuming Fire," which sports some outstanding acoustic guitar enveloping Roine's voice like a warm embrace together with the lyric mellotron, superb bass playing and subtle drums. "Mommy Leave The Light On" adds some more strong melodies and Pink Floyd like sound collages. With "End On A High Note" the first CD closes on a more poppy note with a prominent role for Roine's slide guitar.

The second disc opens with "Minor Giant Steps," which sounds like an outtake from Yes's Relayer album. It almost sounds like FK have studied the structure of Relayer as even Bodin attacks his synths in Moraz fashion here. Probably the best Stolt guitar solo on the entire album can be found on "Touch My Heaven," which also contains some Floyd-like backing vocals towards the end. Whilst Marcus Lilliequest's drumming is more rock oriented and with less frills than its predecessors, his sense for quality drumming can nevertheless be heard throughout the entire, freaky, experimental "The Unorthodox Dancinglesson" which sounds like Brand X on acid here. With the self written "Life Will Kill You," Hasse Fr?berg illustrates to have a soft spot for real rock 'n' roll. Also the album's title track benefits from his rough rock approach flirting with Roine's howling guitar and Tomas' rolling organ.

What "Awaken" is on Yes's Going For The One, "Blue Planet" is to Paradox Hotel. Here our singer sits on top of the moon and looks down on earth, which looks like one huge space with no borders, no wars. He doesn't want to leave and wishes everyone could be up there to witness this dream. It's a grand track with classical piano, nice keyboard textures, stunning bass lines and a strong returning melody. In fact when you close your eyes and listen to this track you are on the moon yourself. And Roine is right: the view up there is breathtaking! As the song fades out we hear commentary again from a NASA astronaut who describes how he sees our earth from way up in the sky. Our trip in company of The Flower Kings has been a safe one and maybe we have to see this literally as the band slightly shuns the more experimental nature they once preached. Their music still is not completely predictable, yet one tends to describe it more like an average Flower Kings album, whilst if you go into detail it is not, as there's much more to it. However because a lot of these details can only be traced by wearing a set of headphones I'm afraid a lot of listeners will not fully appreciate it. Where production is concerned these guys have evolved tremendously, so I can only advise to the fans to not only enjoy this album from the comfort of their lazy chair through the speakers in the living room, but also that they put some headphones on, close their eyes, and leave for another planet! Oh yes, and don't forget to book a hotel. I know just the place ?

Disc One: Check In (1:38) / Monsters & Men (21:21) / Jealousy (3:25) / Hit Me With A Hit (5:33) / Pioneers Of Aviation (7:51) / Lucy Had A Dream (5:28) / Bavarian Skies (6:35) / Selfconsuming Fire (5:50) / Mommy Leave The Light On (4:39) / End On A High Note (10:44)

Disc Two: Minor Giant Steps (12:13) / Touch My Heaven (6:10) / The Unorthodox Dancing Lesson (5:25) / Man Of The World (5:56) / Life Will Kill You (7:05) / The Way The Waters Are Moving (3:12) / What If God Is Alone (6:58) / Paradox Hotel (6:30) / Blue Planet (9:42)

Roine Stolt - guitars, vocals
Tomas Bodin - keyboards, backing vocals
Hasse Bruniusson - percussion, marimba
Jonas Reingold - bass, acoustic guitar, vocals
Marcus Liliequist - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Hans Fröberg - vocals, guitar

Roine Stolt - The Flower King (1994/2001/2004)
Back In The World Of Adventures (1995)
Retropolis (1996)
Stardust We Are (1997/2000)
Scanning The Greenhouse (comp) (1998)
Edition Limitée Quebec (1998) (only 700 copies!)
Flower Power (1999)
TFK fanclub disc (2000) (free CD exclusive to fanclub members only)
Alive On Planet Earth (2000)
Space Revolver (2000)
Space Revolver Special Edition (2CD set) (2000)
The Rainmaker (2001)
The Rainmaker - Special Edition (2001)
Unfold The Future (2002)
Live In New York: Official Bootleg (2002)
Fan Club CD 2002 (2002)
Fan Club CD 2004 (2004)
Adam & Eve (2004)
BetchaWannaDanceStoopid (2004)
Harvest (fan club CD) (2005)
Paradox Hotel (2006)
The Road Back Home (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (2007)
The Sum Of No Evil (Special Edition) (2007)
Banks Of Eden (2012)

Meet The Flower Kings - Live Recording (DVD) (2003)
Instant Delivery (DVD) (2006)
Instant Delivery - Limited Edition (2CD/2DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: April 9th 2006
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.flowerkings.se
Hits: 1242
Language: english


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