The Flower Kings launch new single “Revolution” 

Third track from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’

Prog icons The Flower Kings are set to release their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’ on the 4th March 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the third single from the album, “Revolution”. Watch the video here:

Roine comments:

“The songs on the new double album come from a whole lot of different places in time and space, often a combination of themes gathered from older ideas born before The Flower Kings emerged in 1994, mixed with brand new ideas. 

’Revolution’ is that kind of a song; a mini epic that is reflecting a number of themes spanning this album, cinematic and sometimes bombastic. A celebration of creation and the evolution, making the world what it is, through the million years of  fire, brimstone, ice ages, floods, devastation, pain and finally….. beauty, colors, flowers, the vast oceans of life and new life out of the darkness & raging volcanos. The miracle!

The song is yet another piece of the larger scale composition that is ‘By Royal Decree’ – a sort of modern 2022 Rock Opera if you will. A landmark album from this band that we’re all incredibly proud of!”

‘Revolution’ also features a guest appearance from Jonas Lindberg, who plays bass on this track.

Listen to the album’s first single “The Great Pretender” here: https://youtu.be/03NFABil4yo

Watch the video for the second single “A Million Stars” here: https://youtu.be/k0RiSF1Lwac

‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting

1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 

2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 

3.Blinded (7:45) 

4.A Million Stars (7:11) 

5.The Soldier (5:23) 

6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 

7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 

8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 

9.Revolution (5:59) 

10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 

11.Letter (2:25) 

12.Evolution (4:47) 

13.Silent Ways (5:01) 

14.Moth (4:31) 

15.The Big Funk (4:39) 

16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 

17.Shrine (1:08) 

18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 

‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, 

as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album. 

You can pre-order the album now here:

https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecree

The band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.

The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.

This year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows: 

30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden

31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden

1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden

1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA

11th May 2022  – Imperial Bell, Quebec City, Canada

12th May 2022  – Club Soda, Montreal, Canada

14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway

4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK

Review – Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side – Miles From Nowhere

Originally feted for release in November 2021, the second full length release from the Swedish Prog Rock project Jonas Lindbergh & The Other Side is now being released by InsideOut on February 18th.

This album has been in my possession for a very long time now so I have time to really get into it at every level and I feel I have really got to know it like a friend so feel eminently qualified to write this review. First, however, some history…

This Progressive rock project from Stockholm, Sweden was founded in 2012 by bass player, songwriter and producer Jonas Lindberg.

It all originates back to 2008 when the EP ‘In Secret Pace’ was recorded as an exam-project at the Music Academy in Piteå, Sweden. But, as term, ended Jonas moved to Stockholm to pursue a career as a freelance musician and the idea got put on hold. In 2012 ‘In Secret Pace’ was finally released on digital platforms as Jonas started to work on new material.

This time the lineup featured a 5 piece band and the second EP ‘The Other Side’ was finished and released in 2013. The project was named Jonas Lindberg & The Other Side from the title track of the album after its release. Jonas contributes bass, backing vocals, keyboards and guitars, Jonas Sundqvist (lead vocals), Jonathan Lundberg (drums), Calle Stålenbring (guitars) and Michael Ottosson (keyboards). Two more musicians, Nicklas Thelin (guitar) and Jenny Storm (vocal) later joined for the live shows.

In 2015 the band began working on their first full length album and released “Pathfinder” in 2016 to great reviews. Jonas immediately began writing new material in the following months. But due to heavy touring with lots of other commitments the project got put on hold until 2019, when the band finally started recording a follow-up album.

The new album features the same lineup as on previous albums along with a few more guest musicians. Returning on a few tracks is Simon Wilhelmsson (drums) who some may remember from the first EP, as well as Jonas’s brother Joel and Roine Stolt on lead guitars. Missing is the band’s keyboard player Michael Ottosson who sadly passed away in the summer of 2020, leading up to Jonas taking on full keyboard duties for the album.

So now you know the history of the band, let me tell you why you just have to buy this album…

‘Miles From Nowhere’ is one of those albums that just puts a huge smile on your face, there’s symphonic prog in the vein of Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic and The Flower Kings in absolute spades but it is all grounded on some seriously good hard rock foundations with guitars that Richie Sambora would be proud of and keyboards that just ooze quality like John Lord at his absolute best. It is a triumph of pomp and circumstance, overblown and bloody brilliant!

Staccato guitars open the seriously catchy Secret Motive Man and you first hear the elegant vocals of Jonas Sundqvist. A funky, folky song about a man who’s intentions aren’t entirely clear, odd time signatures combine with some seriously good drumming and harmonised vocals to die for. As opening album tracks go, this one is of the highest quality and the keyboards and guitars work beautifully in tandem. Short (in prog rock terms) but very sweet, Little Man is a refined slice of music with a rarefied air as it begins but it soon opens up with Jonas’ soaring vocal (harmonised to perfection, naturally) on the chorus and the tastefully strummed guitar just adds to the feel. There’s a brief lull punctuated by keyboards before the guitar rises up in a stunning 80’s hair metal solo that just blows you away, a fantastic track.

The second longest piece on the album, Summer Queen is an epic based on the four seasons, originally written in 2003 by classmates Jonas Lindberg and Joakim Wiklund. This song is an exciting thrill ride of peaks and troughs that never lets up and is graced by the wonderful lead vocals of Jenny Storm. A slow burning opening never hints at the headlong rush to come as Jenny’s ethereal voice is first heard, it’s jaunty and wistful but the energy is building up, bursting to get out and the fantastic keys finally let loose with vibrancy and intensity. What follows is pure brilliance, a song that leads you on a mysterious, primeval journey through nature with ardent guitars and mesmerising keyboards leading the dance. Oceans Of Time has an almost medieval feel to the opening keyboard strains before the music bursts out in a torrent of keyboards, drums and thunderous guitars. This compelling and potent track is highlighted by stunning guitar solos from Calle Stålenbring, which punctuate it with moments of pure intensity, and keyboards that just seem to have a life of their own. It’s a track about an ending of a relationship in the form of a ship on a stormy ocean and you feel drawn into the story as if you’re really there.

The simple, rarefied opening notes of Astral Journey lend a polished aura to the song, a relatively concise instrumental which is almost like a moment in calm after the marvellous maelstrom of the previous tracks. Restless, skittish keyboards then take over, aided and abetted by an edgy, restive guitar before the two blend together seamlessly to bring things to a close. Why I’m Here is the closest we get to mainstream track on the album and is a short progressive song in 7/8 time about stalking, sung by Lindberg. This song features lead guitar from Jonas’s brother Joel and its jaunty feel belies the subject nature. Fast paced and sprightly, it passes by in no time at all, leaving a wry smile on your face and has another blinding guitar solo that leaves you slack jawed in admiration.

While the first six tracks are exceptional in their own right, they lead us up to the utterly amazing final, title track. A twenty-five minute epic of such utter majesty, full of intricate instrumental progressive pieces in odd time signatures, intense rock in the style of Deep Purple, fusion inspired choruses, insane guitar solos and vocals that just have to be heard to be believed. The first near-seven minutes is an instrumental section where it seems everyone has just been told to go and enjoy themselves and just deliver some exceptional and impassioned music and, boy, do they ever! Part two sees Jonas Sundqvist’s voice centre stage and is more melodic, almost Beatles-esque section, more subtle, with some elegant guitar playing from Nicklas Thelin which adds to the more cultured mood. Not had enough harder edged rock for your money? Well hold on to your hats, part three sees us off and running with John Lord smiling over us as the keys provide the backdrop to some ridiculously good guitar playing (Calle Stålenbring take a bow please) and amazingly harmonised choruses. Lindberg himself steps forward to deliver an emotionally strung ballad, A sort of reflection upon what has happened lately in life, in part four and plays all the instruments, supported by Maria Olsson on percussion. The final course is to come and you are not left wanting, overtures, majestic anthems, memorable melodies and hooks abound everywhere. The build up to the finale leaves you bursting with anticipation, it’s done so well and then Jonas’ delivers his final coup de grace and probably the vocal performance of his life, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, it is really that good! Then, just when you think things surely can’t get any better, you are treated to an epic guitar solo from the ‘Flower King’ himself, Mr. Roine Stolt and the song just goes orbital. Holy cow! what a bloody fantastic and amazing finish, I’m left mentally exhausted and spent as what has been one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had comes to a satisfying close.

I have listened to this album so many times that I have actually lost count, it is the best example of symphonic progressive rock you are likely to hear in a very long time. I like it that much I have ordered the vinyl and the best compliment I can give is to say that, while I am not a musician and never will be, if I could have only ever made one album, I really wish it could have been this!

Released 18th February, 2022

Order from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/jonas-lindberg-and-the-other-side_miles-from-nowhere_cd?filter_name=Jonas&filter_sub_category=true


The Flower Kings share new single “The Great Pretender” from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’

Prog icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for 4th March 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the first single from the album “The Great Pretender.” The album is now available for pre-order.

Check out the new track here: 

Roine Stolt on the new single: “In the 25 year history and 16 studio albums of ’The Flower Kings’ – being in the middle of it all means it is not always easy to try and take a look from the outside, but this track represent well both what is new and what is old – the melodic side and the sonic adventure.” 

‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting

1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 

2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 

3.Blinded (7:45) 

4.A Million Stars (7:11) 

5.The Soldier (5:23) 

6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 

7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 

8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 

9.Revolution (5:59) 

10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 

11.Letter (2:25) 

12.Evolution (4:47) 

13.Silent Ways (5:01) 

14.Moth (4:31) 

15.The Big Funk (4:39) 

16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 

17.Shrine (1:08) 

18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 

‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, 

as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album. 

You can pre-order the album now here:

https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecree

The band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers. 

The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan. 

Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows: 

30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden

31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden

1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden

1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA

11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada

12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada

14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway

4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK

The Flower Kings announce 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’ & Swedish live dates for 2022

Prog icons The Flower Kings are pleased to announce the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for 4th March 2022. The band have also announced the first live dates in support of the album, taking place in Sweden beginning end of March 2022.

The band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers. 

The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.

Speaking about being reunited with his brother in the recording room, Roine adds, “It is great to reconnect with my brother as a bass player – yes we’re brothers in a familial sense – but we’re also ’brothers’ in our teenage years’ journey of exploring bands like Yes, Genesis, Zappa, King Crimson, Weather Report, etc., so the reference points are evident.  We both know each other’s musical path so well, which means we also know where we’re going.”

Next years tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:

30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden

31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden

1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden

Look out for more information on the new album, pre-orders and the first single on the 10th December.

Band photo by Lilian Forsberg

TRANSATLANTIC reveal ‘The Absolute Universe’ 2022 Tour Dates for North America & UK/Europe!

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce tour dates for North America and UK/Europe to take place in 2022.  The tour will be in support of the group’s epic release ‘The Absolute Universe’ which was released earlier this year in multiple versions.  The North America dates kick off April 15th in Glenside, PA and concludes with performances at Morsefest 2022 and Cruise to the Edge.  Meanwhile, the Europe/UK dates take place in July beginning with the ARTmania festival in Romania.

Mike Portnoy had this to say about the upcoming tour:

“Between releasing our latest album in the middle of a worldwide pandemic & shutdown, and the already difficult task of trying to align our different schedules even in the most normal of circumstances, it was uncertain if Transatlantic would ever get to play any shows in support of The Absolute Universe. 

“But now with the world slowly re-opening and the band already committing to a few one-off appearances in 2022 (Cruise To The Edge, Morsefest and a Festival in Romania), we’re excited to announce we were able to wrangle up some headlining shows surrounding these one-offs! (April in North America and July in EU/UK) 

“These are the ONLY shows we will be doing in support of The Absolute Universe so if we can’t make it to your area, it may be worth traveling to come see us and share these special shows with us. While we wish we could do a full proper tour, getting to play ANY shows for this album is an unexpected treat that we weren’t sure would ever happen…so better late than never!” – Mike Portnoy. 

North America dates:

April 15th • Glenside, PA – Keswick Theater

https://www.axs.com/events/409822/an-evening-with-transatlantic-tickets

April 16th • Montclair, NJ – Wellmont Theater

https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/02005AFEFC0F7014

April 18th • Quebec City, Quebec – Palais Montcalm

https://palaismontcalm.tuxedobillet.com/main/transatlantic

April 19th • Montreal, Quebec – M Telus

https://www.ticketmaster.ca/event/31005B03CBCC1934?lang=en-ca&brand=mtelus

April 21st • St Charles, IL – Arcada Theater

https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4311193/transatlantic-stcharles-the-arcada-theatre?_ga=2.14751414.123937637.1628201559-79101957.1628201559

April 23rd • Los Angeles, CA – Belasco Theater

https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/09005B05AF17211D

April 24th • Berkeley, CA – UC Theatre

https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4360146/an-evening-with-transatlantic-berkeley-the-uc-theatre

April 29th & 30th • Cross Plains, TN – MorseFest 2022

May 2nd to 7th • Cruise To The Edge 2022

https://cruisetotheedge.com/book-now/

UK/Europe dates:

July 22nd – Sibiu, Romania – ARTmania Festival 

July 24th – Cologne, Germany – E Werk

https://www.myticket.de/de/transatlantic-the-absolute-universe-2022-tour-tickets

July 25th – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013

https://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/272933?CAMEFROM=013&brand=nl_013web

July 27th – London, England – O2 Forum Kentish Town

https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/event/1F005AFE183A8DE7

July 28th – Paris, France – Olympia (ON SALE ON AUG 18TH)

www.olympiahall.com/evenements/transatlantic/

Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Available as:

Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album 

 ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’
Available as:
2CD Edition, 3LP+2CD Boxset, or Digital Album 

The full list of formats is below, and you can order now here: https://transatlantic.lnk.to/TheAbsoluteUniverse 

Watch the previously released video clips for the album below:

‘Looking For The Light’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvhvY-vUkLI

‘The World We Used To Know’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xULvfo6rpvE

‘Overture/Reaching For The Sky’: https://youtu.be/SP5HwWbCQvg   

‘The Absolute Interview’ series was also launched, which saw each member of Transatlantic interviewed by one of their musical peers, with Ross Jennings (Haken), Ted Leonard (Pattern-Seeking Animals, Spock’s Beard, Enchant), Nad Sylvan & John Mitchell (It Bites, Lonely Robot, Frost*) taking part. Watch the full series here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfMBXSLZAyyf9kipocjOullLWwQyRX8Cw

Watch a short snippet from the making of documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=964kfA1EX4s 

Review – Transatlantic – The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version) by John Wenlock-Smith

This February sees a new album from the Neal Morse/Mike PortnoyTransatlantic realm of progressive activity entitled ‘The Absolute Universe’. This is a little different though in that this album exists in two main versions, this review covering ‘The Absolute Universe – Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

We are informed that each of the albums are different entirely. Rather than being just extended versions, these are different animals that share the same DNA. So it will be interesting to do what we used to do in English at school i.e., compare and contrast them.

This 2CD or 3 vinyl version has more tracks and an additional 30 minutes running time over the single CD/2 vinyl version titled ‘The Absolute Universe – The Breath of Life (Abrdiged Version), both are housed in Digipak sleeves with seriously impressive artwork and graphics. For Transatlantic money is apparently no object, seeing as they are a flagship group for InsideOut, one of their ‘jewels in the crown’ and a proven seller. This album will probably sell in copious amounts and I’m sure both versions will be highly sought by the faithful.

The album starts strongly with Overture, a thunderous 8-minute mini saga all on its own. Unsurprisingly it is everything that you would want and expect, it certainly impressive sounding and a good set up for all that follows. The album has several themes, Neal Morse states that some of it is autobiographical about his own ego in his early years and also comments about the state of America, along with thoughts about how the world is handling the current pandemic.

Heart Like A Whirlwind is a sprightly little number with a jaunty keyboard sound and some sweet guitar embellishments from Roine Stolt. Transatlantic really bring their choruses to life here and Neal Morse is also on great form, in fine voice and really belts this one out. This is a class song by any standard. Higher Than The Morning has Roine singing along with some great bass from Pete Trewavas and delivers another fine chorus along with some more great guitar from Stolt.

This release has a mixture of pieces, some longer, some shorter but all woven together in a symphonic Tour De Force, it is an album that needs time to appreciate all that it contains and is seeking to convey to you, the listener.

The tracks continue to impress with some seriously good playing throughout as things proceed. We come to the final track of Disc 1,The World We Used To Know, which is another lengthy workout track where the whole band can show off their fantastic ensemble playing, a sinewy snaking guitar line from Roine sitting perfectly alongside some powerfully evocative piano from Neal Morse. The song is looking back fondly to how things were and a yearning for those times to return once again, a sentiment that is probably common to us all at the moment!

Disc 2 opens with The Sun Comes Up Today, it offers stacked vocals before Neal offers some great Mellotron sounds for Roine Stolt to solo over. Exceptional, strong Hammond work from Neal is offset by elegant riffing from Roine, subtle running bass from Pete and energetic thunderous drums from Mike Portnoy who is spot on here. It has another strong chorus and is a fabulous shorter song. This leads into the brief prelude to Love Made A Way, that we will hear as the final track of the album, all propelled by acoustic guitar from Roine and some smooth keyboards from Neal. The interestingly titled Owl Howl then follows with a very meaty riff (that is not unreminiscent of Steve Morse’s work with Deep Purple), with Roine asking “Blackbird, Blackbird What Have You Done?”. Without lyrics, it’s hard to discern what the song is on about but it is certainly one of the harder hitting tracks on here with some interesting sounds and timbres deployed. All in all, a very interesting song with great growling bass and some odd keyboard moments. It actually makes for a song that is fairly odd overall but certainly entertaining, I must add!

Overall, the playing throughout the entire album is strong and impressive, I especially like the interplay between Neal and Roine and also enjoy the rhythm section who support all the fireworks that the others create so admirably. I’ll say one thing, this album is certainly musically challenging, like all the best albums tend to be.

Solitude is the next track, it is about being alone and appreciating the moments as the author is asking questions about how things are now. This song also includes a refrain of the Love Made A Way theme in it and very effectively used it is too. Belong opens with wailing and crying noises before Roine’s liquid guitar opens the music in tandem with Pete Trewevas’ elegant bass, strong organ sounds abound on this shortish track. Lonesome Rebel is next and is another acoustically led piece with Roine on vocals. This one is strong on imagery in the lyrics, politics are in a mess, Roine sings, as he assesses the state of the world.

Looking for The Light (Reprise) begins with an exciting organ solo, backed with some superb bass, powering the track along ferociously. This song is really an instrumental that gives rein for each member to play wildly and express their own talents. Having said that, there are vocals towards the latter part of the song but, mainly, this is soloing by all the band members. We lead into the penultimate track, The Greatest Story Never Ends, which carries on in a similar vein to Looking For The Light, although the vocals come in pretty much right from the off. There is more impressive organ on this one, sounding both full and epic and, again, some good guitar/keyboard interplay here too. It is all extremely exciting, one wonders how this album will translate to the live arena, it certainly has great promise for a lively and engrossing show.

The album closes with the full version of Love Made A Way, opening with gentle piano and guitar runs from Roine Stolt. This is a more ‘Christian’ Neal Morse composition as he sings about how God has changed his life for the better. I know that this might put some folks off, however, the whole song is full of optimism and gratitude. It also has more of that epic chorus and fine guitar runs from Roine whose instrument is wailing throughout the song, and indeed the whole album and he delivers a typically fine, histrionic guitar solo 2/3rds of the way through. This leads us to a very ELO sounding closing section with lots of climbing peaks and cymbals crashing, before everything ends on fading synthesisers and then silence…

This is an album that will make you smile and will definitely tide you over until lockdown has finished, giving you hope for the coming days, being Transatlantic to the max. You did not really expect anything else really, did you? You knew this was going to be wonderfully over the top excess surely? This is what we want and expect from the band and if that is what you get then it will not disappoint in any aspect!

If symphonic progressive rock is your thing, then this album, in whichever form you like, is most definitely for you. Get ready for a great listening experience, hopefully coming to a stage somewhere near soon too, very highly recommended indeed!

Released 5th February 2021

Order from Burning Shed (when back in stock!) here:

The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version) (burningshed.com)

THE FLOWER KINGS – launch video for ‘Black Swan’ / track taken from latest album ‘Islands’ out now

In October 2020, progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS released their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”. Today the band have launched a brand new video for the track ‘Black Swan’, and you can watch it now here:

Roine Stolt comments: “’Black Swan’ was a little piano melody I wrote around spring 2019 – I thought of it as ‘Polish melancholic’ or a ballet piano piece. I did present a demo for the Transatlantic sessions but when it didn’t stick there I brought it along to the TFK ‘Islands’ session. Here it found its way in to the album and concept and with a slightly more dry guitar-driven sound and with nods to both The Beatles & Queen it became one of my favourite tracks. Hasse delivers some of his finest vocal on the album here.”
 
With an epic length of 92 minutes, “Islands” offers all trademark sounds and melodies, the band is renowned for including vintage keys, brilliant guitar solos, odd drum patterns and symphonic elements. Rounded off by artwork courtesy of the legendary Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep), THE FLOWER KINGS present a dynamic and complex record that is bold, bombastic and beautiful.

 “Islands” is available as a massive Limited 3LP & 2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in one gatefold, one single sleeve; as Limited Edition 2CD Digipak and Digital Album.
 
Order here: https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/IslandsID

Disc One (49:40)
1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24
2 – From The Ground 4.02
3 – Black Swan 5:53
4 – Morning News 4:01
5 – Broken 6:38
6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19
7 – Journeyman 1:43
8 – Tangerine 3:51
9 – Solaris 9:10
10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18
11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21

Disc Two (43:01)
1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48
2 – A New Species 5:45
3 – Northern Lights 5:43
4 – Hidden Angles 0:50
5 – Serpentine 3:52
6 – Looking For Answers 4:30
7 –Telescope 4:41
8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11
9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29
10 – Islands 4:12

Line-Up:
Roine Stolt – Vocal, Ukulele, Guitars, Additional Keyboards
Hasse Fröberg – Vocal & Acoustic Guitar
Jonas Reingold – Bass, Acoustic Guitar
Zach Kamins – Pianos, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Orchestrations
Mirko DeMaio – Drums, Percussion
Guest: Rob Townsend – Soprano Saxophone

Review – The Flower Kings – Islands – By John Wenlock-Smith

I have a very strange relationship with The Flower Kings, even though I have all their albums, a few live CDs, and a compilation (along with a few of Roine Stolt’s solo releases and the Anderson Stolt epic of a few years ago). Despite that body of recorded works somehow I’ve never really connected with them in the way I have with other bands. I have never really got them as a band, despite many attempts to do so on my part, I appreciate the music they make and odd tracks do resonate but, overall, it passes me by for some strange reason.

This new album, ‘Islands’, is an interesting one in that it has been put together in this strange year of lockdowns that the world struggles to come to terms with, aiming to beat and conquer and defeat this dreadful virus that has caused so much havoc, both to individuals yet also on the world’s economies. The band have used this odd time to craft a double album of predominantly shorter songs, 21 over 2 CDs with a common theme of isolation and separation. 

They had intended to follow up last years ‘Waiting For Miracles’ album in 2021 but world events made that difficult as all touring activities were curtailed so that left them free to crack on creating new music together, even if remotely. The group line-up remains predominantly the same but with Rob Townsend from Steve Hackett’s band appearing on two tracks adding sax and woodwind to the music. So, how does this one fare?

Well it has taken many listens over several weeks to get some understanding of it all, in all honesty I still have not been able to make up my mind about it all.

The album starts in typical prog style, Racing With Blinders On opening with swirls of keyboards before the ever energetic bass of Jonas Reingold kicks in, propelling the music alongside washes of synths and some very fluid guitar lines from Roine Stolt that run throughout the whole track. With many symphonic textures and soundscapes, it paints a very impressive opening track.

Second track From The Ground has a funky rhythm with a clarinet sounding keyboard and an ethereal vocal from Roine, the song is brief and very positive and uplifting with more great guitar lines flowing through the music. The musicianship on this album is off the scale, everyone is playing at the top of their game on these concise yet impressive pieces. There are no long drawn out pieces on this album and somehow this makes the music easier, almost more accessible somehow and that is a good thing.

This is a really good strong release made under difficult situations and yet it really works well as further shown by the impressive third piece, Black Swan, that has a very Brian May like guitar tone with some very tasty guitar fills from Roine.Possibly my favourite track so far, it is a really great song and, with great support from the rest of the band, it really is a statement of intent. In fact, the more I listen, the more I hear, there is a lot going on in these tracks.

Morning News is a more subdued track with a real spring in its step, a rather jolly little song that, while brief, does not overstay its welcome. It is an interesting song lyrically and the chorus is a strong one that suits the song well. Broken is another stunner with a tremendous drive to it and fabulous music and energy to match. There’s a great guitar solo from Roine and some great keyboard textures from Zach Kamins, who really flies on this song, simply glorious.

Then we are into a series of significantly shorter tracks; Goodbye Outrage, Journeyman (instrumental)and Tangerine before a real epic in the nine minutes plus of Solaris which opens with gentle keyboards setting an almost triumphant tone and Roine’s epic guitar coming into play briefly before a gentler percussive keyboard sets a base for Roine to ascend, which he does again briefly. The sound is a little denser on this song but ultimately it is another example of the undeniable talents that this band unquestionably possess, offering to the listener a fine example of modern day progressive rock. This is the best song so far and certainly shows that this album is one that you should look out for and listen to as it is a fine distillation of all the Flower Kings represent. Great song writing, superlative playing and tones, all combined to make an outstanding musical statement that is beguiling, accessible and very impressive indeed.

Heart Of the Valley follows, another gentler piece with great vocals and music working together to create something of worth and value. Man In A Two Piece Suit sounds like one of those instrumentals that Carlos Santana used to do so well, mixing both melody and taste in equal measures. This is a real tour de force of guitar tones and subtlety, all presented together to make a sublime, beautifully crafted piece of music and is a great ending to the first cd.

Disc two opens with the beauty of All I Need Is Love, its universal sentiments must appeal to many listeners who have found themselves adrift and at odds with the madness of this virus affected world. This song acts as a sort of centre of our thoughts and feeling and the realisation that all we actually do need is love in these strange discordant days in which we find ourselves. This calming track is a tonic for us all to aspire to and this is a most worthy song that reaches out to everyone. A New Species is a lengthy instrumental with highly charged moods and textures and some fine ensemble and solo passages from all, especially keyboard player Zach Kamins. His work is simply fabulous on this track as is the walking bass line of Jonas Reingold, offset against the fine guitar of Roine Stolt. Another great track, Northern Lights (not the Renaissance track!) follows with a good opening section showcasing the wordless vocals of Hasse Froberg before becoming vocalised another long song but it was a bitinconsequential song to these ears and sadly did not do anything for me really.

Hidden Angles is a brief instrumental interlude before the second song with Rob Townsend is revealed. Serpentine features Rob’s saxall over the track along with some highly effective bass lines that really add to the dynamics of this excellent little number that ends on some fine ad-libbed sax lines. Looking For Answers is a fine ensemble piece with some sterling guitar lines from Roine leading the piece. Once again I can hear Santana type guitar tones that punctuate the song, adding real emphasis and dynamics to an extraordinarily strong musical piece.

Telescope is an interesting song, very atmospheric with haunting tones used to great effect, along with more juicy guitar lines that set the music tone well. This song has a really fine fluid guitar break too, in fact, I must comment on the excellence of the guitar playing throughout this album as it really is very strong and really adds to the whole experience the album offers.

I would say for me this is one of the most accessible Flower Kings albums that it has been my experience to enjoy and this is one of the first that I have really ‘got’, as it were. There is a lot of music on the two discs but this is countered by it conciseness and its lack of sprawling tunes. For me at least this is one of their better albums and this new approach certainly seems to work as the results are remarkable. Satisfying and ultimately very enjoyable indeed, I really have no hesitation in Recommending this album to all.

Released 30th October 2020

Order from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/the-flower-kings_islands_2cd

TRANSATLANTIC – launch video for ‘Overture / Reaching For The Sky’/ first single from ‘The Absolute Universe’

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on the 5th February 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

Today they have launched the video for ‘Overture / Reaching For The Sky’, taken from ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’. 

Mike Portnoy comments: “’Reaching For The Sky’ is the first single off Transatlantic’s latest Magnum opus ‘The Absolute Universe’. It’s a great introduction to this epic album as it sets the tone in traditional TA style: proceeded on the album by an extended Instrumental Overture and then launching into this upbeat first song.

I love that it features one of my favorite qualities of the band in the sharing of the lead vocals…in this case: Neal singing lead on Verse 1, myself singing lead on Verse 2, Pete & Neal sharing the Chorus with myself and Roine on backups and Neal taking the glorious Bridge…all leading to Roine’s distinctive guitar solo. 

 Also interesting is that this version exclusively appears on the Abridged 1CD Version of TA5 (“The Breath Of Life”) while the Extended 2CD Version of TA5 (“Forevermore”) opens with the alternate version ‘Heart Like A Whirlwind’ which has different lead vocals and lyrics .”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that includes a special mix that combines both versions into a third unique version in 5.1 surround sound with visuals and a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard featuring the airship by Pavel Zhovba. 

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD, what’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

The full list of formats is below, and you can pre-order now here: https://transatlantic.lnk.to/TheAbsoluteUniverse

The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Available as:

Single CD Edition, Gatefold 2LP+CD, or Digital Album 

Track-listing:

1.     Overture

2.     Reaching For The Sky

3.     Higher Than The Morning

4.     The Darkness In The Light

5.     Take Now My Soul

6.     Looking For The Light

7.     Love Made  A Way (Prelude)

8.     Owl Howl

9.     Solitude

10.  Belong

11.  Can You Feel It

12.  Looking For The Light (Reprise)

13.  The Greatest Story Never Ends

14.  Love Made A Way

 ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Available as:
2CD Edition, 3LP+2CD Boxset, or Digital Album

Track-listing:

Disc 1:

1.     Overture

2.     Heart Like A Whirlwind

3.     Higher Than The Morning

4.     The Darkness In The Light

5.     Swing High, Swing Low

6.     Bully

7.     Rainbow Sky

8.     Looking For The Light

9.     The World We Used To Know

Disc 2:

1.     The Sun Comes Up Today

2.     Love Made A Way (Prelude)

3.     Owl Howl

4.     Solitude

5.     Belong

6.     Lonesome Rebel

7.     Looking For The Light (Reprise)

8.     The Greatest Story Never Ends

9.     Love Made A Way

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster. Includes both versions of the album over 5LP’s and 3CD’s, plus a Blu-Ray with 5.1 mix & documentary. 

Blu-Ray Track-listing:

1.     Overture (5.1 Surround Mix)

2.     Reaching For The Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)

3.     Higher Than The Morning (5.1 Surround Mix)

4.     The Darkness In The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)

5.     Take Now My Soul (5.1 Surround Mix)

6.     Bully (5.1 Surround Mix)

7.     Rainbow Sky (5.1 Surround Mix)

8.     Looking For The Light (5.1 Surround Mix)

9.     The World We Used To Know (5.1 Surround Mix)

10.  The Sun Comes Up Today (5.1 Surround Mix)

11.  Love Made A Way (Prelude) (5.1 Surround Mix)

12.  Owl Howl (5.1 Surround Mix)

13.  Solitude (5.1 Surround Mix)

14.  Belong (5.1 Surround Mix)

15.  Lonesome Rebel (5.1 Surround Mix)

16.  Can You Feel It (5.1 Surround Mix)

17.  Looking For The Light (Reprise) (5.1 Surround Mix)

18.  The Greatest Story Never Ends (5.1 Surround Mix)

19.  Love Made A Way (5.1 Surround Mix)

20.  The Making of The Absolute Universe (Documentary)

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.”

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” 

For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards.

TRANSATLANTIC – invite you to enter ‘The Absolute Universe’ on fifth studio album

TRANSATLANTIC – the Prog Supergroup of Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Roine Stolt & Pete Trewavas – are pleased to announce their fifth studio album ‘The Absolute Universe’, set for release on the 5th February 2021. Representing the band’s first new music since 2014’s ‘Kaleidoscope’, with ‘The Absolute Universe’ the band have done something unique and created two versions of the record: ‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’ & ‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’.

As Mike Portnoy explains: “We’ve got two versions of this album. There is a two CD presentation, which is 90 minutes long, and a single one – that’s 60 minutes. However, the single CD is NOT merely an edited version of the double CD. They each contain alternate versions and even in some cases, new recordings. We wrote fresh lyrics and have different people singing on the single CD version tracks as compared to those on the double CD. Some of the song titles have also been changed, while others might remain the same, but compositionally what you’ll hear has been altered. You must appreciate that what we have done is unique. We revamped the songs to make the two versions different.” Pete Trewavas adds: “We did write some new music for the single CD,” adds Trewavas. “What’s more, there are also differences in the instruments used on some of the tracks across the two records.”

Each album will be available on CD, LP & Digitally. But there will also be what has been called ‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’, which collects both versions together in one lavish package that includes 5LP’s, 3CD’s & a Blu-ray that contains a 5.1 surround sound mix with visuals & a behind the scenes documentary. All editions have unique artwork created by Thomas Ewerhard. The full list of formats is below, and pre-orders start on the 20th November:

‘The Absolute Universe: The Breath Of Life (Abridged Version)’

Special Edition CD Digipak

Gatefold 2LP+CD

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: Forevermore (Extended Version)’

Special Edition 2CD Digipak

3LP+2CD Boxset

Digital Album

‘The Absolute Universe: The Ultimate Edition’

Limited Deluxe Clear 5LP+3CD+Blu-Ray Box-set – contained within a foil-finished lift-off box with extended 16-page LP booklet & 60x60cm poster

Initial tracking began in September 2019 when the band met up in Sweden to write and arrange the new material. As Portnoy explains: “Over a period of 10-14 days, we mapped out the songs. Then we all went back to our home studios and did the recording. That’s the way we always do it. At one point, though, it was suggested that instead of doing what was by that time going to be a double album, we should just be content to do a single CD.”

“What happened was that everything kept expanding and expanding,” recalls Stolt. “Therefore we decided it made sense to make it a double album. It was Pete and Neal who then came out and said they felt this would be too long, and we should reduce it to one…But we were already recording, and it didn’t seem feasible to cut it back. There were so many pieces that each of us loved in what we were planning and didn’t want to lose. That’s when we ended up in discussions over the best way forward.” 

This album also marks a return to the concept album for Transatlantic. “Well, the idea of Transatlantic deciding to do a concept record this time around won’t shock anyone, right?” laughs Portnoy. “What we have is essentially one giant composition, split into chapters. The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual,” admits Stolt. “The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.”

So, how does this new ground-breaking album compare to Transatlantic’s previous four albums?

“I always try not to compare albums as much as possible,” insists Morse. “It’s very difficult when you’re trying to be creative, because your natural instinct is to constantly compare. But in order to create you have to kind of step away from that. Having said that, I would say this would have more in common with ‘The Whirlwind’ album  (the band’s third, from 2009) than others that we’ve created.” For Trewavas, ‘The Absolute Universe’ is a momentous project.

“I think it is right up there with the very finest albums we’ve done. As the others have said, it compares very well to ‘The Whirlwind’, which I believe represents Transatlantic at our best. As on that album, we took our time to write and arrange everything, and that shines through. I am very excited for people to hear it.”

Transatlantic were originally formed in 1999, releasing their debut album ‘SMTPe’ the following year as well as its follow-up ‘Bridge Across Forever’ in 2001. Following a 7-year hiatus, the band reconvened to record and release the much-acclaimed epic 77-minute, single-track album ‘The Whirlwind’ followed by a world tour in 2010 which included an appearance at High Voltage Festival in London where they were joined by legendary Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The band’s fourth album ‘Kaleidoscope’ arrived in 2014, going on to win ‘Album Of The Year’ at the Progressive Music Awards.