Roine Stolt is not a man to stand still, and he’s absolutely someone with one of the most impressive pedigrees in Prog. He made his name with Swedish band The Flower Kings, but he also plays with Prog supergroup Transatlantic, he’s also a member of occasional prog band The Sea Within and has recorded an album with Prog icon Jon Anderson, as well as guesting with Steve Hackett. In 2018, he released the solo album Manifesto of an Alchemist, and now, with their first new album since 2013’s Desolation Rose, he’s back with The Flower Kings, who return to the fray with a piece of work which highlights everything which earned the band their deserved rep.
Listening to this, it’s as though they’ve never been away. The album harks back to the style which helped make the band’s name in their early days. All the component parts which go to make Prog rock an acquired taste are to be found here… a few long tunes, plenty of vintage keyboards, some lengthy guitar solos, symphonic and cinematic textures, and a couple of odd time signatures, not to mention epic musicianship from five guys who’ve all been around the block once or twice. The Flower Kings are back in the saddle and this album will probably be a welcome homecoming for their fanbase!!
They seem to believe the USA needs miracles more than most. ‘Miracles for America’ begins with the line Save your miracles for America, which they then repeat several times. ‘Black Flag’ is a song about ‘pirates’ though, in the current climate, these relate more to the people causing the most harm to the planet. Stolt says at times the lyrics have a little serious concern about the state of the world. This can be heard in ‘The Bridge’, which is almost two songs in one where a quiet voice intones about standing on a bridge with God on their side, waiting for miracles before Stolt enters with some utterly gorgeous guitar work. ‘Sleep with the Enemy’ sees Stolt telling a woman to Sleep with me today as tomorrow I’ll be the enemy. ‘Ascending to the Stars’ is an instrumental and has the dreamy feel of a sci-fi film score, ‘The Rebel Circus’ is also an instrumental but grounded in rock, whereas ‘The Crowning of Greed’ sees the band lapsing into Dream Theatre territory.
Waiting for Miracles is an album where less is more doesn’t apply; here, the Kings give you more of everything and if you like music which is adventurous, daring and played by musicians seeped in Prog, this one should be on your Xmas wish list.