Reviews April/06

The Flower Kings / Paradox Hotel / SPV 48872 DCD


The Flower Kings - A superb Swedish orchestra! Tracklisting Disc1 (Room 111):Check in; Monsters & Men; Jealousy; Hit me with a Hit; Pioneers of Aviation; Lucy had a Dream; Bavarian Skies; Selfconsuming Fire; Mommy leave the Light on.
Tracklisting Disc2 (Room 222):Minor giant Steps; Touch my Heaven; The unorthodox Dancinglesson; Man of the World; Life will kill you; The Way the Waters are moving; What if God is alone; Paradox Hotel; Blue Planet.

I can't imagine a more productive band than The Flower Kings... since the mid-90's Roine Stolt (guitar, and...), Jonas Reingold (bass, and...), Marcus Liliequist(drums, and ...), Hans Froberg (vocals, and...), Hasse Bruniussen (Percussion, and ...) and Tomas Bodin (keyboards, and...) has released an album a year besides their numerous side projects. Sometimes the musical ideas ran over and the band had to make it a double album - like this one!
"Paradox Hotel" is - as unbelievable as it may seem - mostly recorded live by the band as they stayed at the Medley Studios in Copenhagen for a week. Afterwards the band edited the songs at their own studio over a two month period. Roine Stolt says: "This album is not focussed on detail, it has raw edges and isn't based som much on complex themes as is usually the case. we painted with a bigger brush. However the melody side is still very strong, and the whole thing sounds much more dynamic. Furthermore Tomas Bodin and Jonas Reingold were more involved in the songwriting process than in the past, and even hasse Froberg has composed one song."
The overall theme for the record is the curiosity of existence and the title "paradox Hotel" is a refence to peoples life on Earth - we are only guests here, and noby has ever seen the manager of the establishment, but we are supposing that he is doing his job somewhere... The compositions are, as usual, very complex and is inspired by bands like Yes, King Crimson, David Bowie and even Frank Zappa on a track like "The unorthodox Dancinglesson" in 13/8 timing!!! But also a "genuine" blues rocker like "Pioneers of Aviation" features a multitude of percussion and enthusiastic solos.
If you are into "real" prog rock - this is one of THE albums to buy in 2006 - The Flower Kings has done it again!

Vanden Plas / Christo / IOMCD 239


Vanden Plas - Progressive and majestic metal! Tracklisting:Christo; Postcard to God; Wish you were here; Silently; Shadow I am; Fireroses Dance; Somewhere alone in the Dark; January Sun; Lost in Silence.

Vanden Plas new album "Christo" is their fifth studio release - not including the live CD "AcCult" and "Spirit of Live". And this is definitely one of their finest moments. The band succeeded in creating a perfectly balanced mixture of melodic metal and raw power combines with excellent musicianship.
On this new studio epos the three main writers of the band Andy Kuntz on vocals, Stephan Lill on guitar and Günter Werno on keyboards has based it on one of the most hailed novels by Alexandre Dumas - "The Count of Monte Christo". It is actually 9 song which very much captures the ideas of teh novel in musical motions... and besides that bass player Torsten Reichert and drummer Amdreas Lill delivers a impickable job her - you can actually hear that the band in their almost 4 years of "silence" has involved themselves in numerous theatrical productions such as "Nostradamus".
And all the theatrical ingredients are very present with heavy guitars, polished arrangements, orchestrated sections and catchy melodies. This is a question awereness of quality - because the band gives the listener a little more of everything: "The down tuned guitars are more present, the ballads are more touching, the orchestral arrangements are more thorough and the compositions are much more vivid", as it says in the press material.
There are several highlights on "Christo", one is the remarkable opening track "Christo", the heavy riff monster "Somewhere Alone in the Dark" with its guitar shreds, or the amazing 10-minute long epic "January Sun," which is cleverly orchestrated and boosted by the 40 piece classical choir of the Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern. A song which combines the wide range of influences from the band's members from rock and metal to jazz, as well as their musical background and theatre experience.
But don't stop the CD player until you have heard the added bonus track "Gethsemane" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Jesus Christ Superstar". This song has been sung by Kuntz in the theatres many times, it very much adds up and complete this rock classic in spe.
"Christo" is a record very full of emotions and images - being carried by its hand and feet by the excellent musicians in Vanden Plas - a German five-piece on the top of their career! Great stuff...

ENIC / 3 track demo disc / Self financed


ENIC - Melodic and dramatic with a new female vocalist! Tracklisting:Choices; Strength, Thoughts.

Enic is a powerrock band (as they call it themselves) from Denmark. The band has a lot of experience from the melodic rock scene as they come from bands like Amazon, Carmen and Duran Duran Jam. Amazon once released a single called "You can't run out" and opened for Pearl Jam in Denmark.
This Copenhagen 5(sometimes 6)-some is in my opinion creatively inspired by classic progressive rock like Saga but also has references to newer bands like Swedish A.C.T. - the band features the talents of Lars Lilja Ekenberg on guitar (now with Pangea), Lars Peters on guitar, Hans-Henrik Mejløe on bass, Christian Mejløe on keyboards, Brian Skovgaard on drums and last but not least a (to me) unknown female vocalist named Maria??. And they have changed atiitude with this female additon - and it really works fine.
This is a 3 track "demo" CD - with a rare classy production and a powerful sound. 100% quality - very impressing, indeed. Especially the opening track "Choises" is a big big track - but also "Strength" is a great tune. One of the things regarding the music, the band got positive respons on is their use of the keyboard as a main instrument (like Dream Theater) with a lot of strange noices and tecno influence. And mixed with rather raw sound of the guitar it is a unique blend... the band has turned rather more raw compared with last years demo despite of the fact of Marias feminine vocal.
Please check out Danish prog rockers Enic as they are on their way up. If they stick to their guns they will be big - they have the potential to a lot more. Great!.

© Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2006