The Flower Kings - Banks of Eden

The Flower Kings - Banks of Eden
Styles: Heavy Metal
Genre: Pop\Rock
Album: Banks of Eden
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Artist: The Flower Kings

The Flower Kings enjoyed a rather long break following 2007's The Sum of No Evil album and the tour that ensued, with individual members undertaking solo projects or simply laying low, recharging their creative batteries after years of grueling, non-stop work. Naturally, however, this hiatus only heightened fan expectations leading into the band's next progressive rock challenge, 2012's Banks of Eden, which inevitably found the lovable Swedish egg-heads both reveling in and wrestling the characteristic excess, majesty, and hubris of their chosen art form, as expected. Indeed, cynics could easily allege that the album's opening, 25-minute-long "Numbers" is pretty much what happens when a prog rock band starts jamming and simply doesn't bother stopping (nerds armed with instruments gone wild!?). But it's obviously not that simple, and while the Flower Kings still lack the signature vocal presence of a Peter Gabriel, the way they string so many movements, moods, and styles (there's pop, jazz, classical, metal, you name it) within that epic movement's timespan is not only impressive but very reminiscent of classic period Genesis, both philosophically and aesthetically (i.e. fascinating and perplexing in equal measures). By comparison, the more manageably sized musical chunks that follow prove infinitely easier to digest, and include the rather bouncy, Yes-like "For the Love of Gold" (note the falsettos and insistent Chris Squire-styled bass), an upbeat, anthemic number misleadingly named "For Those About to Drown," and a dreamy, spiritual product of Pink Floyd worship named "Rising the Imperial." There's also a curious track named "Pandemonium" that sees the Flower Kings infected by the Borg or something -- how else to explain its robotic vocals and similarly mechanical instrumental work? The album technically ends here, but deluxe editions also feature an additional four bonus tracks of varying quality -- from the elegiac instrumental guitar showcase "Illuminati" and bizarrely Neil Diamond-esque "Fireghosts," to the ‘80s MOR/prog of "Going Up" and the forgettable "Lo Lines" -- that will likely thrill diehards regardless. Heck, chances are that simply having to wait this long will assuage most serious critical objections about Banks of Eden for the immediate future, but the album nevertheless represents yet another solid day's work at the office for the Flower Kings.

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