Desolation Rose: The Flower Kings’ Reflections on the Revolution in Media

Unlike Eric Perry in his earlier, excellent review, I approached the new Flower Kings album from a position of relative ignorance. I greatly admire Roine Stolt’s work with Transatlantic, but I do not have any Flower Kings in my music library. However, after listening closely to Desolation Rose the past few days, that is about to change!

21st century media provide wonderful benefits (could something like Progarchy have even existed 15 years ago?), but any technology can also be perverted into something terribly harmful. Desolation Rose is a dark and brooding jeremiad on the dangers of corrupt media and government, perpetual war and violence, and religious fanaticism. Freedom is not a given, and Desolation Rose is a dire warning to those who would trade it for “security”, whether by indiscriminately believing what governments and mainstream media tell us, or by neglecting critical thinking when it comes to the claims of deceptive religious figures. Each song segues seamlessly into the next, reinforcing the overall impact of the lyrics. It may take a few listens for them to take hold, but once they do, they are very powerful.

A sampling of some of the most memorable lines (as best I can decipher them; I do not have a lyrics booklet):

“Lies bring comfort to the king and his nation/Like fools, we just stare at the sun.” (‘Tower ONE’)

“In the silent soil of Eden lie the bones of a predator/From the sun and the stars, a dreamless penitentiary.” (‘Sleeping Bones’)

“In silent graveyards we look for saviors/A promised land beyond our prayers” (‘Desolation Road’)

“So if you follow, go look beyond the lies/A brand new kingdom will brighten up the skies/Close to the sea, the river’s getting wider/Take off the blinders, and love will take you higher” (‘Resurrected Judas’)

“We are just the silent masses/The things you need are out of fashion/And so the clock keeps ticking out of time”  (‘Silent Masses’)

“When a man is not a man, but hostage to machinery/Will they ever let you out from this dreamless penitentiary?” ‘(Last Carnivore’)

“So the state has become the offender/To the point where there’s no turning back/Now you dream of your new independence/While they tighten their grip round your neck” (‘Dark Fascist Skies’)

“We are stardust and we’re sun-kissed/We are brothers and still we’re strangers” (‘Blood of Eden’)

Just as words and phrases are repeated in the songs, musical themes recur throughout, making the album a remarkably cohesive work. The propulsive drumming of Felix Lehrmann is terrific; Tomas Bodin’s manic organ locks horns with Roine Stolt’s lead guitar and musical sparks result. Hasse Froberg’s vocals are outstanding – full of dark menace one moment, and aching lament the next.  Jonas Reingold’s bass work is as melodic and inventive as Geddy Lee’s.

Highlights are ‘Resurrected Judas’, which has a nice “Trick of the Tail”-era Genesis vibe and a graceful, loping guitar solo; the straight-ahead rocker ‘Silent Masses’, with its jaunty piano riff and nimble bass line; and ‘Last Carnivore’, which is very dark and oppressive until a key change brings relief and light. ‘Last Carnivore’ is representative of the album as a whole – from the first track, the band creates an atmosphere of conflict, darkness, and oppression which isn’t relieved until the beautiful and stately ‘Blood of Eden’ makes its appearance near the end. Hearing it is like seeing clouds part and the sun shine through after a violent thunderstorm. However, lest we think everything’s going to be fine, the ‘Silent Graveyards’ show up one last time in a musical coda that ties together the various themes masterfully. Froberg’s voice rises as if he’s framing a question, and it is unsettling to realize that ‘Dark Fascist Skies’ are always lurking around the corner.

With Desolation Rose, the Flower Kings have produced an album of extraordinary power and depth. Lyrics and music combine to pack an emotional punch that cannot be ignored. Detta är en att älska.

Flower Kings sound snippet

FLower Kings 2013

Wow, what a day.  Coralspin, The Fierce and the Dead, and now. . . everyone’s favorite Swedish band, The Flower Kings.  Nice sound snippet uploaded to the web.  Sounds gorgeous.

My only worry is the Nixon voice at the beginning.  Scarier than anything that will happen on October 31!  If you can get past it, well, bless you.  And, it’s worth it.

The music sounds in continuity with Retropolis–undeniably fresh and meaningful.  Thank you, Roine.  For everything.

A New Flower Kings Album: Desolation Rose

jrrt flower kingsIn one of the oddest moments of my adult life, I awoke to the news of a brand new Flower Kings CD.

Why, weird?

Because I spent much of yesterday listening to TFK and thinking about the past and the future.  I was reflecting on how critical TFK have been to my own creative (such as it is) and professional life.  I wrote my first biography while listening repeatedly to Stardust We Are, Flowerpower, and Space Revolver.  And, the music fit perfectly–my first book was an intellectual biography of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Last night, and my wife can confirm this, I couldn’t go to bed until I took and posted a photo of appreciation: the TFK surrounding my Tolkien book.  I felt rather frantically obsessed (called?) to take the photo before heading to bed.  Wild.

Additionally, I started planning a series in my head for Progarchy very similar to what Pete Blum has so brilliantly done with “20 Looks at The Lamb Lies Down.”  I was thinking of a twenty looks type of feature on TFK.  Anyway, much to my surprise and happiness, I awoke and saw–in fact, the very first thing I saw upon awaking–an announcement for the new TFK album, Desolation Rose.

Maybe all of this is mere coincidence, but it just doesn’t feel that way.  If you’re interested in some of my earlier thoughts on TFK, please go here.

So, for all kinds of reasons, I’m intrigued.  For some reason, the album strikes me–at least from the description Stolt released–as a sequel of sorts to both Unfold the Future and Banks of Eden.  Regardless, I’m already prepared to love the new album.  Thank you, TFK.  Long live progging Swedish hippies!!!

Official News Release, dated September 11, 2013

FLower Kings 2013

NEWS : THE FLOWER KINGS – reveal release of new studio album ‘Desolation Rose’ late October.Swedish progressive-rock royalty The Flower Kings have had a busy year since regrouping in 2012 for the ‘Banks Of Eden’ album, and with a new creative vigour the band are following that with the fantastic new album ‘Desolation Rose’ due out on 28th October 2013.
The artwork, once again created by Silas Toball, can be viewed above and the band had this to say about the forthcoming release:

“Being somewhat of a political statement, the epic theme of “Desolation Rose” is a logical step in a time where perpetual war, famine, environmental threats, religious conflicts dominate the media and our minds. This is a time to wake up and the music on this album takes you on a journey where you are forced to questions what the mainstream media feed us and to rethink your whole world view on all of the above. This is in many ways a typical Flower Kings album but we have also taken it into another realm where we do take chances and where you may struggle to get into the music – or the lyrics – but trust me when I say that you will be rewarded, as this may be our most involved, important and interesting album ever. “(Roine)

The track-listing for the album is as follows:
1 Tower ONE 13:39
2 Sleeping Bones 04:16
3 Desolation Road 04:00
4 White Tuxedos 06:30
5 The Resurrected Judas 08:24
6 Silent Masses 06:17
7 Last Carnivore 04:22
8 Dark Fascist Skies 06:05
9 Blood Of Eden 03:12
10 Silent Graveyards 02:52

Earlier this year, The Flower Kings embarked on a very special tour alongside Neal Morse & Mike Portnoy to celebrate InsideOutMusic’s 20th Anniversary, playing to sold out crowds across Europe and the US.

Look out for more information and videos in the coming weeks!
Pre Sale start soon at The Flower Kings web shop:

For more information visit: