The Flower Kings is one of those bands that's been floating around my periphery for a very long time without ever coming into clear focus; there always seem to be bigger name bands in their way that draw my attention. But as soon as I was handed a copy of their 2012 album Banks of Eden, it became clear to me that this is a band that deserves to be checked out by any progressive fan.
The major thing The Flower Kings have going for them is that their music is generally very subtle and understated, replete with fine details to be discovered and offering a fair amount of nuance. In contrast to other major prog bands like Dream Theater or Porcupine Tree whose music is, let's face it, loud, Banks of Eden doesn't present you with everything it has on the first listen, making it much more rewarding. Similar to the original progressive rock acts of the early seventies (especially Genesis), there's a lot to find in the depths of The Flower Kings's music for those who care to find it.
On the other hand, that subtlety does have the side effect of making the music a bit homogenous in sound. There's not a big substantial difference between the tones of the pieces, and especially during the 25-minute epic "Numbers", it can feel like the pieces drag on just a bit too long. That being said, the quality of the music behind them is still undeniable and alluring--they're just not as easy to listen to as they could be.
There's also a special edition of the album that comes with a second disc of four bonus tracks. Those tracks are more or less the same type of material from the album proper, just a bit shortened and slightly less interesting. That's not to say they're bad; it's just clear why they were left as bonus material. If you really enjoyed the first disc or have enjoyed previous albums from them, then I definitely suggest grabbing the special edition--it's like adding an additional 20 minutes of stylistically similar material onto the album, and who doesn't love that? But if you weren't overly impressed with the first disc, then you can probably skip them--there aren't any true gems you'll be missing.
Any fan of progressive rock, classic or modern, should get into this band. I know this release convinced me to dredge through their back catalogue, and with any luck, it'll grip you too.
Recommended if you like: early Genesis, early Rush, The Gathering
8.5 / 10
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