Intro: Kostas Barbas
Flower Kings need no recommendations. With a number of very good releases since the mid-90s, they have also helped revive progressive rock, with Stardust We Are and Flower Power being considered the most classic among them. The 6 years that separate their new attempt from their previous release (Desolation Rose) can only be taken as a positive for a band with so long history. The duration of Waiting for Miracles shows that Roine Stolt and his friends were quite productive (especially if we count last year’s Manifesto of an Alchemist, which was something between a Flower Kings album and Stolt’s staff), as long as this break. Also the addition of two new members, Zach Kaminis on keys and Mirkko DeMaio on drums, are quite a surprise, mainly due to the replacement of Tomas Bodin, their main keyboardist all these years.
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Flower Kings and Roine Stolt have never been persimonious with their ideas during their career. On the contrary, there has always been a sense of “big” and “too much” in their temperament, which has characterized much of the symphonic progressive rock of the 70s. In this context, the 84 minutes of Waiting for Miracles are not particularly surprising. In addition, listening to the album proves the obvious: that however good ideas you may have, their extensive display almost never favors them, especially in such a strictly progressive rock setting.
In particular, the existence of the second CD seems at least unfortunate, especially considering that it also contains things you’ve already listened to in the first. It is clear that the score at the end of the text would be somewhat higher if the second CD and a few minutes of the first CD were missing. It is really a wonder that after so many years of experience, there can be no filtering of ideas.
Otherwise, the album starts with the quite ‘by the book’, but quite powerful Black Flag. Here we have to say that the music of Flower Kings certainly contains no trace of innovation and its compositional frameworks are specific. The somewhat “surprises” in the compositions certainly do not surprise and the vocal lines as beautiful as they are, have been heard many times over in the past. This does not mean that the listener cannot enjoy what they offer. On the contrary, it’s hard to say no to a top guitarist like Stolt and to this sweet progressive rock band with the Beatles always as an influence, especially in the greatest compositions of the record. In our case, the album’s best tracks are the flawless Vertigo and the awesome Ascending to the Stars, with The Rebel Circus and The Crowning of Greed following. Stolt’s solos throughout the album are more than good, with the new keyboard player appearing to have a secondary role, investing mainly in the atmosphere.
Anyone who enjoys traditional progressive rock and is familiar with the Flower Kings’ discography will surely enjoy their new album. Their return can only be considered half successful. The divorce they seem to have taken from the editing room deprives Waiting for Miracles of a place next to their classic moments.
6.5 / 10
With major changes to their lineup, but with Roine Stolt always in a state of unstoppable creativity, the Flower Kings are back as a regular band (after the departure of Tomas Bodin) and with Stolt releasing his third solo album in 2018 under the name Flower King. And what exactly can one expect from Flower Kings anymore? First of all, all those elements that are scattered in their previous discography, which for a fan of traditional prog sound are already be known. Stolt and Kings held the flag of progressive sound high during times of non-existent interest in the music industry and returned to claiming a fair share of popularity today, but signs (of their previous two releases) were signs of a stagnant sound. Yes, there is quality and some compositions that refer to their most important moments. The melodies, the careful orchestrations and the aura of refreshment that the new members give to the band dominate, but overall it leaves the feeling of something already expected. A pattern that holds Waiting for Miracles in anticipation and gives space to Stolt and his friends’ older ‘miracles’. It’s not as boring as Agents of Mercy’s albums, nor as great as Stardust We Are, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.
7 / 10