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Flower Kings, The: The Sum of No Evil

Every new album from The Flower Kings may be misleading at first, as Roine Stolt always writes songs that reveal themselves upon repeat listenings. The Sum of No Evil proceeds in a similar style, exhibiting detailed arrangements that one may not notice right away. With the great Zoltan Csorsz back on drums, the unit's unbreakable rhythm battery is as strong as ever. Not that the previous album Paradox Hotel was a failure or anything, but it's a given that most Flower Kings fans would prefer Csorsz over most drummers.

Stolt has explained that this album would be a return-to-the-roots effort, as they had removed themselves from jazz and pop as much as possible. This is true to a certain extent; The Sum of No Evil contains fewer pop parts, but with the inclusion of Csorsz who has always been associated with the norms of jazzy playing, it would be unthinkable for the band to delve into some fusion-laden sections. This is particularly audible on the monster track "Love is the Only Answer" which sharply contrasts the opener "One More Time", a vintage prog rock piece filled with a strong rhythmic angle, warm guitar melodies, and Retropolis-like synth patches. The analogue vibe is more effective than before, which could be attributed to the fact that they recorded the album on 70's vintage recording equipment.

"Love is the Only Answer", on the other hand, is just shy of the 25-minute mark. This one contains lots of theatrical vocals by Roine Stolt, where he moves from laidback soft sung parts to more aggressive sections in order to portray the necessary mood. The heavier passages are often underpinned by squealing keyboards and tense instrumental breaks; this is also where the transition into a jazzier space becomes inevitable. Thanks to Reingold's fretless bass guitar, Bodin's spacey synth fizzles, and Csorsz' eloquent rhythm punctuation, the band put their ear for delicate improvisation on display. Bodin's solo where he extrapolates all kinds of synth tones is simply fascinating and forms the precursor to the two guitarists' wonderful guitar cascades.

Though not a lengthy piece, the album's standout song for me is "Trading My Soul", which somewhat belies Stolt's argument that The Sum of No Evil is a pure prog rock statement. The darkness factor that comes to the fore on this ballad is right up there with the Gildenlow-sung Adam & Eve material, or the much-overlooked "Bavarian Skies" off of the previous album. It is rather interesting to hear all these "Flower Kings never experiment much" arguments, and when they do, putting out material in the vein of "Trading My Soul", their core fan base gets annoyed. Complete with lots of Hammond and Moog sounds, some manipulated vocal arrangements, and exquisite synth flights, the dynamic quality of the song is achieved through plenty of rhythmic variations. It's an excellent track with a dark, menacing atmosphere and a rousing chorus. The guitar work on the title track is the best on CD, dominated by bluesy voicings and almost shred-instensive expression.

The instrumental "Flight 999 Brimstone Air" is a bit in the style of "Trading My Soul", featuring Tomas Bodin's Zappa-meets-Crimson style, bringing in elements of avant-garde fusion. This is a very intense track, and one of the best Flower Kings instrumentals. There is a great drum solo by Zoltan Csorsz which is a big plus given his quite restraint playing through the course of most of the album.

The special edition of the album contains some bonus tracks and a making-of video, so be sure to check it out if you're a big fan of the band. So far, this is one of the most essential prog rock releases of the year.

Track Listing

  1. One More Time
  2. Love is the Only Answer
  3. Trading My Soul
  4. The Sum of No Reason
  5. Flight 999 Brimstone Air
  6. Life in Motion

Added: September 27th 2007
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: The Flower Kings website
Hits: 4780
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Flower Kings, The: The Sum of No Evil
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-09-27 10:01:38
My Score:

Sweden's The Flower Kings have certainly returned to their symphonic roots here on The Sum of No Evil after a few mostly successful releases toiling in free-form jazz, fusion, pop, and heavy rock. This one sees the band dusting off their Hammonds, Mellotron, Mini-Moog, Wurlizer, Rhodes, grand piano, and tube amps, giving every bit of the CD a real 70's sound and flavor. For many fans of the band, this trip will remind of earlier albums like Retropolis, Back in the World of Adventures, and Stardust We Are. Sure, the epic length track lengths are still here (only two songs clock in at less than 10 minutes), but there's more time spent on sweeping, vintage sounding arrangements, glorious harmonies, and an earthy sense of balance than the band has executed in years. Leader Roine Stolt is in fine form as always here, his guitar riffs and leads really hitting on all points, and his vocals melodic and perfectly fitting these symphonic songs. Co-guitarist and vocalist Hasse Froberg, as he has been for so long, is a great counterpart to Stolt, especially his huskier vocal delivery which adds a nice variety to these songs. They key here though is super keyboard master Tomas Bodin, who litters tunes like "Love is the Only Answer (all near 25 minutes of it!) and "One More Time" with waves of orchestrations and sizzling solos, and especially wows when dueling with Stolt's guitar.

Honestly, there's not a bad track here, just plenty of majestic & powerful prog rock. The band sounds more focused than they have in years, making The Sum of No Evil one of their most enjoyable platters through and through. Add in some wonderful artwork from Ed Unitsky, who has become a regular in the genre these days, and you've got one of the strongest prog releases of the year.

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