A Kingdom Of Colours II (2004 – 2013 Box Set) – The Flower Kings
Well it’s time for another box set review and this is the follow up of The Flower Kings studio albums they have just recently released and it completes the discography of the bands studio albums. A Kingdom Of Colours II is very much a lavish box set that very much has style and is constructed in exactly the same way as the first box set that got released last year, only it comes in a different colour with a different collage of a picture.
For those who missed my review of A Kingdom Of Colours by The Flower Kings you can find it here: https://wordpress.com/post/leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/42753
It’s been almost 5 years since The Flower Kings released their last album Desolation Rose back in 2013 and since then even the bands official website has disappeared. The only activity regarding the band in the last 7 months as very much been the release of these 2 box sets consisting of the bands entire studio album discography. It makes you wonder if Roine Stolt as decided to put an end to the band he started back in 1994.
However this is not the first time it as taken 5 years for another of The Flower Kings studio albums to surface, and back in 2007 after the release of The Sum Of No Evil it was not until 2012 that we got to see the bands 11th album Back To Eden hit the shelves so to speak. So there still maybe some hope of a return, and one can never write off the possibility either.
A Kingdom Of Colours II (2004 – 2013) In Review…
A Kingdom Of Colours II by The Flower Kings was released on the 22nd June 2018. I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon 3 months ago back on the 22nd March and it arrived on the same day of its release. This new box set contains 9 CD’s and once again comes at the same bargain price as the previous box set, and can be had for around £35.
The box set comes with The Flower Kings last 5 studio albums they released between 2004 – 2013 to which one of those albums is a double album. It also comes with 3 bonus discs and just like the previous box set it’s also a Limited Edition Box Set to which only 3,000 copies have been made. It really is great value for the money and makes a great collector’s edition too.
So before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and contents.
The Packaging & Contents…
The CD’s come in a very lavish very well constructed cardboard box. This box is a lot better than any clamshell box and is much better quality with how it’s been constructed too. They have very nicely used a collage of the albums artwork covers to make the artwork picture on the front of the box. The lid fits on very nice and snug and as you can see by the indentation in the picture above its around 3 quarters of the length of the box.
The other thing I did pick up with this box is that unlike the last box set they made, this one comes with a white soft sponge (that can be removed) at the back of the lower part of the box has you can see in the picture below.
No doubt the sponge acts like a padding and prevents the contents in the box from rattling about. It also gives the contents more of a snug fit too. But in reality this box set comes with 1 disc less than the previous box set. But it also comes with less Gatefold Sleeves as well. So that’s why it’s most likely been used and it’s not been purposely designed like this to hold future releases.
As you can see from the picture above all the discs come in cardboard wallets and unlike the previous box set, we only get 1 double album here that comes in a gatefold sleeve. Each album comes with the original artwork too and they represent a mini version of a vinyl album quite well.
Because of the way everything as been done this way there is nowhere to store all of the individual booklets for the albums. But it does come with a very thick 138 page booklet that contains all the albums lyrics, credits and production linear notes for every album apart from the 3 bonus discs. It also comes with a bit of informative information and pictures.
It’s a very well made detailed booklet. However the fact that there is no information of when the bonus material was made and where it came from for the 3 bonus CD’s you get here. Does not really help a reviewer like myself and I shall have to spend a lot more time doing some research on the net to find out the source of the material.
As it’s a limited box set. It also comes with a certificate showing you which number box set you have out of the 3,000 that have been made. Mine is 180.
The Albums In Review…
Because this is a box set and there is a lot to get through, I am only going to focus on the highlights of the albums and not go into great depth of all the individual album tracks like I do on most reviews. I shall also review each album as they was originally released in chronological order. So now without any further adieu, let’s get down to the album reviews.
Adam & Eve
Adam & Eve is the 8th Studio album by The Flower Kings. It was released on the 3rd August 2004 and the album contains 10 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 78 minutes, 4 seconds. The bands main writer and guy behind the band Roine Stolt very much likes to get more or less the maximum use out of a blank disc and tends to fill them up with as much information he can cram on them.
I myself prefer the old 40 minute album time slot, especially when you have a large record collection. It helps you to devote more time to your collection as well. I cannot say I am a fan of this longer time slot and even down to the fact that this album is classed as a single album, it takes up the time slot of a double album back in 70’s, and an album this size would benefit more by sticking it on 2 discs in reality.
I am not saying I cannot sit here and listen to the whole album in one sitting. But I do feel making single albums this long will have some downfalls. The first being that it will certainly be a lot harder to make a solid album over this distance, and some could not even do that over 40 minutes never mind the 78 minutes we have here. So most albums this long do tend to come with gap fillers.
Secondly unless you can be completely on your own. The chances are that you have got more chance of being disturbed whilst listening to the album. And last of all. Albums this length may have also contributed as to why these days people would rather buy single tracks than albums.
Unless you are a serious music listener like myself, an album this long will be too much for some people. It’s not a case of the artist giving you extra value for the money at all, and I have never seen the longer album in that way. The art of making a good album is so that when the last track on the album finishes, it leaves the listener wanting more. By giving them more in the first place is never really gonna do the trick I am afraid.
But for those serious die hard music listeners when this album was released they also released a Japanese Edition that came with a bonus disc with 9 bonus tracks. Although 6 of them was originally released on the limited 2 disc edition of The Rainmaker. The other 3 tracks were bonus tracks that were left over from the Space Revolver album sessions.
The album Adam & Eve was recorded at the Cosmic Lodge from Jauuary – May 2004. Both the drums and bass were recorded at Reingold Studios. All music and lyrics written by Roine Stolt with the exception of “Babylon” & “Days Gone By” by Tomas Bodin and “Timelines” by Jonas Reinglod & Roine Stolt. The album was produced by Roine Stolt and assisted by Tomas Bodin. The albums layout was by Hippified Art and the cover painting was by Ciruelo Cabral.
No real change in the band line-up that appeared on their previous album Unfold The Future apart from there was no guest musicians on this album. Daniel Gildenlöw was also no longer a guest and had now joined the band permanently. Although that did not last for long, and this was the only album he appeared on as an official member of the band.
The line-up of musicians are as follows: Roine Stolt: Vocals/Acoustic & Electric Guitars. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Jonas Reingold: Basses. Zoltán Csörsz: Drums. Hasse Fröberg: Vocals. Daniel Gildenlöw: Vocals. Hans Bruniusson: Percussion.
With myself going on about the length of albums being too long earlier, I would not exactly accuse Roine Stolt of making extra long albums and filling them up with gap fillers. Stolt is a workaholic when it comes to songwriting hence the amount of the material he does tend to put on his albums. He is also a very good songwriter too.
However I do feel that a lot of the melody lines he does use for his songs can sound very familiar, and a lot of his output of material can sometimes be like listening to same thing that came from other albums of The Flower Kings on that score. I would also say that this particular album Adam & Eve is not really one of my go to albums of the band for that reason as well. But that’s not to say it’s a bad album at all, and there is some very strong written material to be found on this album.
For example the 2nd track on the album “Cosmic Circus” will perhaps take you back to the album Stardust We Are. The same thing could be said of “A Vampire’s View” although this does have a bit more theatrics about it, but it also does contain that circus and carnival vibe too we got from that same album. But Stolt does tend to get off on that whole fun of the fair carnival ride into the land of theatrics.
Nothing wrong with that at all, and it’s something that can be very well portrayed in his music at times and shines for it at times too. I would even say the latter of those two tracks is the better of them. Even though Tomas Bodin wrote a couple of ditties for the album with “Babylon” and “Days Gone By” they too can sometimes have that familiarity of older tracks too, but at the end of the day he’s keeping it all to that familiar sound that is associated with the band. The latter of these two I would also say was the better.
The album comes with a couple of lengthy epic tracks too, the first of which “Love Supreme” opens up the album and weighs in at some 19 minutes, 43 seconds. The 2nd of them “Driver’s Seat” comes towards the end of the album and is precisely 1 minute and 23 seconds shorter. No doubt you will hear some familiar lines on both of these couple of tracks and the albums self titled track “Adam & Eve” even regurgitates the main theme from the opening track on the album.
All 3 of these tracks plus “A Vampire’s View” I feel are the strength of the album. Though personally even though the both lengthier tracks of the 4 here are quite good, I do not really see them having quite the strength of both the “The Truth Will Set You Free” and “Devil’s Playground” from their previous album or many of the bands other long epics for that matter. Oddly enough the much shorter self titled album track “Adam & Eve” merits my top spot award on this album.
The remaining 3 tracks “Starlight Man“. “Timelines” and “The Blade of Cain” are a bit more on the mediocre side and my least favourite tracks on the album. “Starlight Man” does not really speak to me a lot and “Timelines” starts off very promising with its Frank Zappa esc vibe, but then it tends to fizzle its way out and the life sort of gets sucked out of it. “The Blade of Cain” for the most of it is an instrumental piece that contains a few words at the end to work as a sort of reprise of the opening track on the album. I think it’s a nice enough track but it tends to sound a bit disjointed and a bit out of place as the albums closing track.
Overall the bands 8th album Adam & Eve I do not see as one of the bands stronger albums and it’s not even a near enough solid album. Others no doubt may see this album differently to how I see it for that matter and rate it a lot more. Personally I felt a lot of the written material was embarking on older ground, and it was made at a time when Stolt was also busy with both Transatlantic and The Tangent. His mind may have been not totally focused on this particular album.
Despite all that, the album still does have some good moments though, and I would not say it was a bad album either. I cannot fault the albums lyrics and Roine Stolt as always done well on the lyrical side of things and he got his inspiration from Joni Mitchell’s Travelogue album whilst recording this album. My personal highlights from the album are “Adam & Eve“. “Driver’s Seat“. “A Vampire’s View” and “Love Supreme“.
Adam Was Handsome But Somewhat Bizarre, He Looked At Himself Like Some Kind Of Pornstar…
The album track listing is as follows: 1. Love Supreme. 19:43. 2. Cosmic Circus. 3:12. 3. Babylon. 2:34. 4. A Vampire’s View. 8:48. 5. Days Gone By. 1:13. 6. Adam & Eve. 7:57. 7. Starlight Man. 3:31. 8. Timelines. 7:43. 9. Driver’s Seat. 18:20. 10. The Blade of Cain. 5:03.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6/10.
The bands 9th album Paradox Hotel was released on the 4th April 2006. Its another double album, and the 4th double studio album the band have made. Though in reality I find most of The Flower KIngs releases are like double albums with all the material that gets rammed onto a single disc, and ones like this are more like a 4 album box set :)))))).
You would need 4 vinyl albums to fit all the material comfortably that is on a 2 CD Set like this as well. So my bit of humour regarding the 4 album box set, is in fact the real reality of it all. Do you still think albums these days are not too long :))))).
The 1st CD contains 10 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 72 minutes, 52 seconds. The 2nd CD comes with 9 tracks and has an overall playing time of 63 minutes and 3 seconds. The album was produced by Roine Stolt and assisted by Tomas Bodin as ever and the album tracks were recorded at various locations between November 2005 – January 2006. The albums cover art and booklet illustrations was done by Andres Pablo Valle.
The Flower Kings by now were always having a bit of a problem keeping a permanent drummer and Daniel Gildenlöw and Zoltán Csörsz had left the band. Gildenlöw left because of touring problems that would confront him and he refused to submit biometric data which was required to enter the USA. Csörsz had other plans of his own, though he did return for the bands next album.
The band recruited session player Marcus Liliequist to fill in for the spot on the drums. Although this is the only studio album of the band he was featured on, he also went on tour with the band afterwards to promote the album and also appears on the bands official DVD release of Instant Delivery which is an excellent live DVD I do also have.
The line-up of musicians are as follows: Roine Stolt: Lead Vocals/Guitars. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Jonas Reingold: Bass. Marcus Liliequist: Drums. Hasse Fröberg: Lead Vocals/Additional Guitar. Hans Bruniusson: The Odd Bit Of Percussion.
The double album Paradox Hotel is very much a nonstop concept album where each track runs into one another as it goes along. The double album is also split into 2 parts to represent two different rooms in the hotel. The 1st album is room 111 and the 2nd room 222. This album is more to my particular taste and has the power to excite and tone things down a bit very well.
It speaks a lot more to me than their previous album Adam & Eve and the material is more fresh, and even has a newer edge and approach to it all. I also feel it’s one of their stronger albums and certainly one of my more to go albums too. It’s also an album where Stolt allowed the other members of the band a bit more leeway with the writing credits, although most of the albums tracks are written by himself.
The album kicks off with a little bit of fun with “Check In” a title that one would presume relates to checking into an hotel, only here we are sort of at the Nasa control centre listening to the countdown of an Apollo mission only to find out they are about to play a bit of table tennis :))))). It sort of brings back the “Rhythm of Life” from the bands 2nd album Retropolis to which was also a Tomas Bodin idea.
Once the bit of fun is out the way we get down to the more serious stuff and get the longest track on the entire double album “Monsters & Men“. This one’s some 21:19 long and most of the other tracks on the album are relatively a lot shorter and the nearest to it appears at the start of the 2nd album with “Minor Giant Steps” which weighs in at 12 minutes. 13 seconds. Both tracks are very strong contenders for the top spot on the album but there is that much good stuff on this album, I personally could not pick a favourite and the album works very well as an whole.
The material on both CD’s is really excellent and very well written. I also like how all the tracks have been placed on the album too, and on the first disc for example you have a track like “Jealousy” which is perhaps more subtle and intimate and is immediately followed up by “Hit Me with A Hit“. Which at first might appear to be a pop song, but as it goes along you soon get to see that is far from the case with the bags of progression and transitional changes they have thrown in.
I personally do not feel that there is a bad track throughout the album and because there is so much here I am only really gonna highlight some of the tracks like I have been doing already here. Other great tracks on the 1st album are “Lucy Had a Dream“. “Mommy Leave the Light On” and “End on a High Note“.
Other highlights from the 2nd album are the “The Unorthodox Dancinglesson” which is an instrumental track and is quite like a cross between King Crimson & Frank Zappa. The Hasse Fröberg penned track “Life Will Kill You” is a smash and brilliant track. The albums self titled track “Paradox Hotel“is the Rocker of the album and “Blue Planet” has the right mood to put the album to bed perfectly.
Overall I quite like the slightly more modern approach you get from Paradox Hotel. Just like Unfold The Future this for me is one of The Flower Kings better double albums and is almost on par with that album. There is not a lot you can fault here and it’s more or less a solid album with the material that was written for it.
The Puppeteer Is Sending All His Boys To Kingdom Come…
The album track listing is as follows: Disc 1: 1. Check In. 1:38. 2. Monsters & Men (I. Seasons of War. II Prophets and Preachers. III. Silnet River). 21:19. 3. Jealousy. 3:20. 4. Hit Me with a Hit. 5:31. 5. Pioneers of Aviation. 7:42. 6. Lucy Had a Dream. 5:28. 7. Bavarian Skies. 6:38. 8. Selfconsuming Fire. 5:54. 9. Mommy Leave the Light On. 4:39. 10. End on a High Note. 10:43.
Disc 2: 1. Minor Giant Steps. 12:13. 2. Touch My Heaven. 6:08. 3. The Unorthodox Dancinglesson. 5:22. 4. Man of the World. 5:59. 5. Life Will Kill You. 7:02. 6. The Way the Waters Are Moving. 3:10. 7. What If God Is Alone. 6:59. 8. Paradox Hotel. 6:29. 9. Blue Planet. 9:43.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.
The Sum Of No Evil
The Flower Kings 10th studio album The Sum Of No Evil was recorded, mixed and mastered between March – July 2007. The album was produced by Roine Stolt and he also wrote all the material except for “Flight 999 Brimstone Air” to which was written by Tomas Bodin. The albums cover artwork was done by Ed Unitsky.
It was released on the 25th September 2007 and the album itself contains 6 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 74 minutes, 55 minutes. The drummer Zoltán Csörsz had once again returned to the fold for the final time and the line-up of musicians are as follows:
Roine Stolt: Vocals/Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Additional Keyboards. Tomas Bodin: Hammond/Mini Moog/Grand Piano/Rhodes & Wurlizer Pianos/Synth & Mellotron. Jonas Reingold: Fender Bass. Hasse Fröberg: Vocal & Guitar. Zoltán Csörsz: Drums. Hans Bruniusson: Marimba/Glockenspiel/Percussion. Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone.
The Sum Of No Evil is quite a different album and the band have no doubt come out of their shell a bit on this album and the musicians are stretching themselves out to the limit and beyond. There is quite a massive Frank Zappa influence on this album in parts too, along with many influences from other bands this is quite a melting pot of excellent progression and diversity. There is certainly a lot of complexed material along the lines of the album too.
Most of the material is quite lengthy and 3 of its tracks range between the 12.5 – 13.5 minute mark. And if those are not long enough for you the 2nd track on the album “Love Is The Only Answer” weighs in at 24 minutes and 28 seconds. There is quite a bit of the Zappa influence on this particular track and it has bags of diversity and progression amongst its path and just likes Frank Zappa’s music it’s also very complexed and a very strong contender for the top spot on the album.
The albums opening track “One More Time” kicks the album off in the bands familiar great style and takes even more shape from the 6:28 mark and contains some really excellent and exciting keyboard work amongst other things. It’s all quite complexed with some excellent transitional changes. It another contender for the top spot on the album.
You also get some more Zappa vibes and complexity coming from the albums self titled track “The Sum Of No Evil” and this is another superb track and merits my top spot of the album award, though I have to confess it was certainly an hard decision to make especially with how a lot of the tracks on this album are very well worked out superb compositions and are very strong.
“Trading My Soul” is the only track on the album that really simmers things down a bit and Zoltán Csörsz’s return to the band was not wasted either and he features heavily on the shortest track on the album “Flight 999 Brimstone Air“. The final track on the album “Life In Motion” also has some real great progression and is another very well written composition and ends the album off superbly.
To sum up The Sum Of No Evil by The Flower Kings. It’s almost like an album that’s come from a different mould with how they have gone about things and presented the album. It’s also perhaps in some way one of the most complexed albums that the band have ever produced as well. They have even pushed their own boundaries I feel and it’s a very well worked out album that even feels like the band have come up with a new approach even though their distinctive style is still very much dominant.
It’s also near enough a solid album with how well and strong the material has been written and my personal highlights are the “The Sum Of No Evil“. “Love Is The Only Answer“. “One More Time” and “Life In Motion“.
Heaven Is A Place Where Wealthy People Meet….
The album track listing is as follows: 1. One More Time. 13:04. 2. Love Is The Only Answer. 24:28. 3. Trading My Soul. 6:25. 4. The Sum Of No Reason. 13:25. 5. Flight 999 Brimstone Air. 5:00. 6. Life In Motion. 12:33.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.
Banks Of Eden
It was to be a good long 5 years before the next album the Banks Of Eden came to surface by The Flower Kings. Many of the band members including Stolt himself spent some time away from each other to allow time for them all to work on other projects. For awhile now it seemed that most of the band were happy to be part of The Flower Kings but keeping a permanent drummer was becoming a bit of a problem for them.
The young German born drummer Felix Lehrmann was the guy chosen to fill the vacant band spot. Lehrmann had started his professional career on the drums when he was 17 when he embarked on his first European tour with Della Miles. Since 2002 he had worked with the band Rivo Drei and played in many other band projects and also done a lot of session work. He even played drums on Jennifer Rush’s 2010 album Now Is The Hour. So no doubt he was getting around a bit and Roin Stolt soon picked up on the young man’s talent and skills.
The Flower Kings 11th studio album Banks Of Eden was recorded between January – March 2012 and was released later that same year on the 18th June. The album itself contains 5 tracks and amazingly comes with a more moderate time slot of 53 minutes, 57 seconds. It’s the shortest album of all the bands studio albums and personally I think it benefits the shorter time slot making it much more easier to digest and get into. Even more so if you never had the original albums and you have all the albums in this box set to digest and get into as well.
Most of the albums in this box set though, also came in the form of limited editions that came with bonus discs, and this one originally came with 4 bonus tracks on the bonus disc. These have been included among with many others on the 3 bonus discs you get with this box set. Oddly enough they even put out a vinyl release of the album out at the same time, and the because the main albums was near enough 54 minutes they had to release it as a double album and included the bonus tracks on the vinyl release too.
The album was produced, mixed and mastered by Roine Stolt and the albums artwork was done by Silas Toball. The musicians are: Roine Stolt: Vocals/Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Additional Keyboards. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Jonas Reingold: Bass/Bass Pedal/Acoustic Guitar/Vocals. Hasse Fröberg: Vocals & Guitar. Felix Lehrmann: Drums. It also features vocals from Inger Ohlen-Reingold on “Rising The Imperial“.
Despite the 5 year break The Flower Kings had lost nothing regarding their sound and style and the title of this particular being the Banks Of Eden may suggest that it may of been a sequel to the 2004 album Adam & Eve though I am pretty sure it’s not and its just another collection of songs. Some reviewers have put this album down as a darker sounding album with the material that was written for it, but for me personally this album sounds much more lighter and airy and has quite a fresh feel about it.
The albums kicks off with a twenty five and half minute epic entitled “Numbers” and like many of the bands longer pieces that go over this long distance, they always tend to make them interesting by putting in many transitional changes and the right amount of chord progression to take the music in other directions and to other places. I feel the band have done it very well here too, though I personally do not think it’s in league with some of the bands earlier epics that go over this distance. Never the less “Numbers” is a great track and contender for the top spot on the album. It’s also one of the 3 of the tracks on this album that was written solely by Roine Stolt.
Next up we have a Stolt/Bodin composition entitled “For The Love Of Gold” and I get a bit of an Anderson/Bruford/Wakeman/Howe feel about this song in parts for some reason, that comes from that sort of calypso vibe they had on one of the tracks from that particular one off album they made. This one is also quite sprightly and airy with its approach and certainly does have that “Brother of Mine” feel mixed along with some other more familiar style melodies of their own.
“Pandemonium” is the shortest track on the album with it’s 6:29 time slot and is another of the songs on the album that contains some fine progression and some rather odd vocals too. There is no doubt that the band are trying to go about things a bit differently here, but still manage to keep their distinctive style. This track maybe the shortest on the album but for me it merits my top spot of the album award. It gets followed up by “For Those About To Drown” and both of these tracks were penned by Stolt. This one has a bit of a Beatles feel to it and is another fine song.
The album finishes off with a Jonas Reingold written song that’s entitled “Rising The Imperial“. According to the credits in the booklet it also features Reinglod’s wife Inger on vocals on this song. No doubt she can be heard in some parts on the backing vocals but does not have a major part on the vocals. I quite like Stolt’s guitar on this one and it’s not a bad song, but nothing that will set the world on fire I feel. But ends the album off sweetly enough.
Overall the Banks Of Eden by The Flower Kings is an album that perhaps has more of a popular music feel to parts of the music mixed in with all the progression you get here. No doubt it’s an album that has a bit more of a light hearted approach in many ways. It also could be seen like a fresh start in some ways I suppose as well. It’s a pleasant enough album that flows very well from start to finish, though it’s perhaps not in contention with many of its predecessors on that score. But never the less a welcoming return after their 5 years break so to speak. My personal highlights from the album are “Numbers” and “Pandemonium“.
Cain Came Back Empty Handed…
The album track listing is as follows: 1. Numbers. 25:26. 2. For The Love Of Gold. 7:25. 3. Pandemonium. 6:09. 4. For Those About To Drown. 7:06. 5. Rising The Imperial. 7:51.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6/10.
The band managed to keep the same line-up of musicians and in following year and in between March – May they recorded the bands 12th album Desolation Rose. The album was eventually released on the 28th October 2013 and is the latest album of The Flower Kings to date. It could even be the final album of the band, but it’s perhaps too early at this stage to make any real presumptions and this is not the first time it’s took 5 years for an album to surface. As always the album was produced by Roine Stolt and once again the albums artwork was done by Silas Toball.
The album contains 10 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 59 minutes, 34 minutes. The limited edition release also came with an 8 track bonus disc, to which they also have included on one of the bonus discs in this box set. Most of the material on the album is written by Roine Stolt but the interesting thing here is that 3 of the tracks “Sleeping Bones“. “The Resurrected Judas” and “Dark Fascist Skies” were actually credited to the band. I am pretty sure that’s a first. “White Tuxedos” was credited to both Stolt & Reingold.
The album Desolation Rose is very much a concept album and even flows like one too with how all the tracks run along continuously and are joined to each other from start to finish. Though its not a story as such and the concept is more based around the lyrical content and subject matters of war, religion, politics, death and so on. The album also consists of shorter tracks too, and the longest track on the album is the opening track “Tower One” that weighs in at some 13 minutes, 37 seconds.
It’s perhaps not one of those albums that you could play a single track from with how it’s all been put together, but I have no problem with that because it does work very well from start to finish and I quite like what they have done here too.
Once again the band sound fresh yet still have that certain familiarity regarding the bands overall style and sound. I also think the material they have written here is a bit more stronger than their previous album Banks Of Eden. It’s not a solid album by any means and personally I feel it fizzles out a bit more from the half way point towards the end.
Overall Desolation Rose is quite a good album that does not really disappoint and makes quite and enjoyable album to listen to from start to finish. I certainly do not think its one of their albums you are going to pulling classics from to play now and then, like you could do with many of the bands earlier albums. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Tower One“. “White Tuxedos“. and “The Resurrected Judas“.
Dead Eyes Of A Raven Spell Global Disaster…
The album track listing is as follows: 1. Tower One. 13:37. 2. Sleeping Bones. 4:16. 3. Desolation Road. 4:00. 4. White Tuxedos. 6:30. 5. The Resurrected Judas. 8:24. 6. The Silent Masses. 6:17. 7. Last Carnivore. 4:22. 8. Dark Fascist Skies. 6:05. 9. Blood of Eden. 3:12. 10. Silent Graveyards. 2:51.
Lee’s Album Rating Score. 7/10.
A Kingdom Of Colours II (Bonus Discs 1 – 3)
The box set as I mentioned comes with 3 bonus discs. In total you get 31 tracks spread over the 3 discs most of which came from the bonus discs that came with the limited editions of the albums they released. You also get the odd few that may not have been released before that came from left over tracks they wrote for their albums, and never got included on them. And also the odd tracks that came from Fan Club releases from the bands website. They have also put the bonus material we have here in very much in a chronological order of the years they came out.
To be honest I am a bit disappointed that they have not included all the bonus tracks that came with the limited edition of the bands 2001 album The Rainmaker and have only included 1 of the 6 bonus tracks from that release. I think they have done that with all the earlier albums too that were made before the albums that came in this 2nd box set.
The fact that they never give you any bonus material in the first box set A Kingdom Of Colours does not really help either, and now I am hoping there will be a 3rd box set that will surface in the near future that will include them along with their live albums.
(Bonus Disc 1)
The first of the bonus discs contains material that written between 1996 – 2005. The disc contains 9 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 65 minutes, 31 seconds. Both the first 2 tracks “Kite” and “Buffalo Man” were a couple of tracks that never made the bands 2nd album Retropolis and came from those sessions for the album. However they did surface on a Limited Edition EP that was released in Québec in Canada only in 1998 along with a few other tracks. Both “The Flower King (re-recording 1998)” and also the “Stardust We Are (re-recording 1998)” were originally released on a compilation album the band released in 1998 which was called Scanning The Greenhouse.
“Last Exit” was originally released in the year 2000 and came on the Japanese release of Space Revolver that came with a bonus CD containing 5 tracks. 1 of the other tracks from that bonus disc is also included on the 2nd bonus CD that comes with this box set. Both “Brazilian Woman” and “Dexter Frank Jr” came from the Harvest Fan Club release in 2005. This would of been only available from the bands website which is now distinct and no longer there. The track “Space Traveller” was also a fan club release that came out in 2004 and was written by Michael Stolt. And “Agent Supreme” was 1 of the 6 bonus tracks that came from the limited edition of The Rainmaker from 2001.
So as you can see there is quite a mixed bag here regarding the bonus material, and it looks as if they placed the tracks not particularly in the order they came out but near enough. They most likely shifted a couple of tracks around a bit to make it work a bit better and make it feel more like an album sort of the thing.
Overall the bonus material is quite good and they even included a 1998 re-recording of “The Flower King” that came from Roine Stolt’s solo debut album before the actual band The Flower Kings were born so to speak. I personally do not rate this new re-recording in comparison to the original though, and I would say the same thing for the re-recording of “Stardust We Are” as well, but they are not still pretty good and do have a different flavour about them. They are certainly amongst the better material and highlights on this 1st disc, and great to see they have been included here too.
I think it’s easy to see why both “Kite” and “Buffalo Man” never made the Retropolis album and they are both quite weak in comparison to the much stronger material that did wind up on the album. “Last Exit” is OK but perhaps does not make it that well over this distance and gets a tad weaker towards the end. The “Brazilian Woman” is a nice enough piece with nice nylon guitar though with the accordion is perhaps has more of European thing about it.
“Dexter Frank Jr” is nice enough slow bit of jazz and I would also include this one amongst the highlights here too, along with the great up-tempo track “Agent Supreme” and the last track “Space Traveller” which is the longest track and instrumental piece on this 1st disc and merits my top spot on this disc. It’s contains some really gorgeous slide playing on the dobro guitar and reminds me of Mark Knopfler. The slide guitar indecently was played by Ola Gustavsson.
The album track listing is as follows: 1. Kite. 7:31. 2. Buffalo Man. 5:35. 3. The Flower King (re-recording 1998). 11:44. 4. Stardust We Are (re-recording 1998). 8:57. 5. Last Exit. 9:18. 6. Brazilian Woman. 4:18. 7. Dexter Frank Jr. 2:24. 8. Agent Supreme. 2:34. 9. Space Traveller. 13:10.
Lee’s Bonus Disc 1 Rating Score. 6/10.
(Bonus Disc 2)
The 2nd bonus disc comes with 10 tracks and has an overall time of smack on 53 minutes. The material for this particular disc was written between 2004 – 2007. It opens up with another track from the 2004 Fan Club release album “Petit Heritage” and is followed by “A Good Heart” which is the 2nd track and last of the bonus tracks they have taken from the Japanese release of Space Revolver that came with a 5 track bonus disc. Both “The Crown and The Cross” and “King of Grief” came from the 2005 Harvest Fan Club album release.
“She Carved Me a Wooden Heart“. “Space Revolver” and “Jupiter Backwards” came from the Japanese release of the 2004 album Adam & Eve which came with a 9 track bonus disc. The other 6 tracks that on that disc was the same bonus tracks that came with the limited edition of The Rainmaker. The last 3 tracks “The River“. “Turn The Stone” and “Regal Divers” on this 2nd disc come from the limited edition bonus disc of the 2007 album The Sum Of No Evil.
The most interesting thing about this 2nd bonus disc is that all the material they have chosen for it is almost entirely instrumental. I also like the way it’s so very well been compiled as well with the placement of the tracks. In some respects its a bit like a game of 2 halves the way the first 5 tracks are all joined to one another and its a bit like a medieval musical journey.
The remaining 5 tracks are not joined but you still get this feeling of a magical journey with how they flow together especially from tracks 6 & 7 which are still at this point instrumental tracks. I am not for one minute suggesting that the guys in the band cannot sing but this is really sounding like a great album with how things are running along. Tracks 8 & 9 are the only vocal tracks on the album and the final track is an instrumental track that reminds me of the band Focus and puts a great end to this 2nd disc.
Overall the 2nd bonus disc is the best of the 3 you get here. This is very good strong written material that even works like you have another really superb album of The Flower Kings in some respects. It just goes to show that not all bonus material in particular is weak and it may of been the case that it was only ever left off the original albums because it was perhaps not fitting with their plans for them.
There is no doubt that this works like an album and flows superbly with how its been compiled and there is nothing weak here at all. My personal highlights are “The Crown and The Cross“. “King of Grief“. “She Carved Me a Wooden Heart“. “Space Revolver” and “Regal Divers“.
The album track listing is as follows: 1. Petit Heritage. 2:02. 2. A Good Heart. 5:21. 3. The Crown and The Cross. 4:57. 4. King of Grief. 3:51. 5. She Carved Me a Wooden Heart. 5:59. 6. Space Revolver. 7:29. 7. Jupiter Backwards. 6:26. 8. The River. 5:44. 9. Turn The Stone. 5:09. 10. Regal Divers. 6:02.
Lee’s Bonus Disc 2 Rating Score. 9/10.
(Bonus Disc 3)
The final bonus disc contains all the bonus material that came from the limited editions of their last 2 albums Banks Of Eden and Desolation Rose. In total you get 12 tracks over a playing time of 53 minutes, 53 seconds. They all run in the same order too and the first of the 4 bonus tracks came from the bonus disc of the Banks Of Eden the 1st being an instrumental piece entitled “Illuminati“. Once again this track has a nice Focus feel about it and I quite like this one.
The following 3 tracks “Fireghosts“. “Going Up” and “LoLines” are all vocal tracks and are all quite good too. My favourite of them perhaps being “Fireghosts“. 3 of the 4 bonus tracks were written by Roine Stolt and “Going Up” was penned by Jonas Reingold.
The remaining 8 tracks came from the Desolation Rose bonus disc which contains only 2 vocal tracks “Runaway Train” has a sort of Neal Morse vibe about it, especially with the use of the counter harmonies. But it’s perhaps one of the weaker tracks of the bunch here. The other vocal track “Lazy Monkey” is one of the shortest tracks on the album and is a very well written song. I like this one a lot and it’s my favourite track on this 3rd bonus disc.
The other 6 Instrumental tracks are all quite good “Interstellar Visitations” is the longest track on the album, and to be honest most of the tracks on this bonus disc are quite short. But that can also be a good thing at times. “Psalm” is the shortest track on the album and this has quite a lovely feel and flow to it and is quite subtle like the last track on the album “The Final Era“.
The other 3 instrumental pieces are quite more interesting and “The Wailing Wall” has a bit of a Ritchie Blackmore feel about it. Whilst “Badbeats” has a Santana feel in parts and “Burning Spears” has quite a Marillion feel about it, especially how it opens up, it’s almost like an intro to “Incommunicado“.
Overall the 3rd bonus disc is not as strong as the 2nd bonus disc but there is quite a few good tracks here to enjoy. My personal highlights are as follows: “Lazy Monkey“. “Illuminati“. “The Wailing Wall“. “Fireghosts” “Burning Spears” and “The Final Era“.
The album track listing is as follows: 1. Illuminati. 5:56. 2. Fireghosts. 5:50. 3. Going Up. 5:10. 4. LoLines. 4:24. 5. Runaway Train. 4:41. 6. Interstellar Visitations. 8:24. 7. Lazy Monkey. 2:24. 8. Psalm. 2:10. 9. The Wailing Wall. 3:18. 10. Badbeats. 5:24. 11. Burning Spears. 3:15. 12. The Final Era. 2:57.
Lee’s Bonus Disc 3 Rating Score. 6/10.
To sum up my review of The Flower Kings box set A Kingdom Of Colours II (2004 – 2013). Once again they have done the business on the packaging and presented it very neatly in a very well constructed attractive looking quality box. The second half of The Flower Kings discography still sees the band churning out some really great output with the 5 albums they made from 2004 – 2013. Personally for me both the double album Paradox Hotel and the single album The Sum Of No Fear are amongst the strongest albums they made during this stage of their career. But there is some Gems to be found on the other 3 albums too.
The bonus material is also very good and well worthy of having. The 2nd bonus disc in particular is my personal favourite out of the 3 discs you get here. In many ways it’s like having another solid album of the band. No doubt not all of the bands bonus material is included here, but it does tend to cover the extra material they released during the making of the 5 albums that are in this box set. The bonus material is also something I was glad to see in this box set too, and it’s something they never included in their 1st box set A Kingdom Of Colours (1995 – 2002).
Speaking of the previous box set and my review of it awhile back. I know I did have a bit of a moan about how the CD’s come in cardboard wallets rather than DigiSleeves. I have sort of got used to that idea now, and it would of been nice if they could of done things that way as well. But no doubt it would add to the cost and I cannot really complain how things have been done here, and this is still saving you a lot of money over the individual releases and is amazing value for the money.
The conclude by review of A Kingdom Of Colours II (2004 – 2013) by The Flower Kings. It’s perhaps not a box set that is gonna give you anything extra, not even with the bonus material you get here for diehard fans of The Flower Kings who would most likely have everything that’s in here. But even for those diehard fans this could be seen as a very attractive collector’s edition that would look nice on their shelves with how well they have presented things here.
Not only is this package neat, stylish and attractive. It also comes at an attractive price point of £35. So it’s not entirely gonna break your bank account so to speak. The fact that it’s also a limited edition and only 3,000 have been made. Means that not only will this box set hold its price, but it may be worth even more in the future, so you cannot really lose out with a package like this.
For those who never had any of The Flower Kings albums, and are thinking of buying their albums having recently heard them. This box set certainly offers you the cheapest option and no doubt you are getting bang on quality for the buck by buying a box set like this. You are also getting several hours of really great quality music and it’s well worth the money. I would even recommend the 1st box set A Kingdom Of Colours (1995 – 2002) too, that contains the first half of the bands discography.
As to what the future holds for The Flower Kings it’s hard to say that this is the end. One can never speculate what the future holds, and I would think that even at this point Roine Stolt would find it very hard to say goodbye to this project he created. So it would not surprise me if we see a new album by The Flower Kings at some point.
It also would not surprise me if A Kingdom Of Colours III was to materialise in the near future either. A 3rd box set consisting of the bands live albums and DVD’s plus some bonus material perhaps. It’s something I would like to see and would also buy. Though I do have both Meet The Flower Kings and Instant Delivery already on DVD. Both of which I also highly recommend.
Coming up a bit later on this month for review we have more from Roine Stolt with his latest project The Sea Within which was released at the end of last month.