Review Summary: Smooth, how smooth?
Look past the name, sit back and take it all in. The Flower Kings’ Banks Of Eden
is one of the most promising releases to grace 2012. That might look like a big call, but it’s backed up by some of the strongest song writing to be found in the modern progressive rock genre. Somehow, since releasing the group’s debut back in 1995, The Flower Kings have been regarded as a progressive rock powerhouse and yet simultaneously managed to stay relatively un-noticed with their releases. For those who have had the pleasure of hearing any other record in the band’s catalogue, chances are they know that this act have some serious talent behind them. Mixing your everyday progressive patterns with the occasional folk instrument, and excellently well-presented crooned male vocals, Banks Of Eden
is deep listen that harmonises and floats into the sub-conscious of the listener. Careful though, this album will need some time to sink in especially with its nine tracks finishing just over the hour and fifteen minute mark. Five years in the waiting (as members worked on other numerous acts) and The Flower Kings prove once again why you should put down whatever you’re doing and put this record on.
When discussing the new record, members cited that they wanted to go for an ‘old-school’ analogue sound, similar to the early releases of Led Zeppelin, Queen or Deep Purple. Banks Of Eden
is not too far away from the mentioned old-school vibe but it does manage to have a clean modern flair to the music, thus making Banks Of Eden
a mix of old and new, formed into something spectacular. This is instantly noticeable on the opening epic twenty-five minute opus, ‘Numbers’. With the first track taking up the bulk of the album’s runtime, it’s here where listeners can appreciate the warm complexity thrown throughout the entire record. The overall sound is smooth mixing time signatures, mellow leads interesting guitar solos and positively enough a bass with presence following the rhythmic percussions without a need for show boating. Despite the inherent simplicity at work, the album is actually quite complex and is a lot to take in. There’s no two parts the same, and the music is certainly far from a defining black and white. A wide variety of instruments is used throughout the record; they range from the conventional drum, bass, guitar, vocals to the left of centre organ, flutes and even the dabbling in effects both on guitar and vocals, take ‘Pandemonium’ for example. The track is a build-up of sorts, thrown together with musical flamboyancy and catchy rhythmic sections (and that’s all within the first two minutes of the track). What this track also shows, is that bands can alter vocals without ruining passages with auto-tune, The Flower Kings maintain that crooning to the vocals even with the effect.
All in all, Banks Of Eden
explore the outer confines of a genre, making a listen fresh and enjoyable. The album itself is infectious, especially for those familiar with the band or encompassing genre. The Flower Kings have blown away their some-what lacklustre release of Adam and Eve
in 2004 and come built on their previous release, The Sum Of No Evil
in the best possible ways. The band shows that even with a hiatus of five years they are in no way out of the game. Banks Of Eden
explore and map out the world of progressive rock, stopping only to captivate the listener and despite being released in the middle of 2012, is one of years strongest releases. It may take a while for the listener to fully understand the passages and integral depth shown throughout the entire of the record, but thankfully most will be glad to listen to this over and over again. Sections intertwine and caress the next taking care to not outweigh or outshine the next. Everything is where it should be.