To begin with, I should probably say that I’m a bit biased when it comes to Mssr. Stolt. I realize he’s practically everywhere these days (Transatlantic/Anderson-Stolt, The Flower Kings, solo stuff, etc.), but no matter how much of his stuff I listen to, I just can’t seem to get enough. The soft, quiet passages nestled right alongside a cacophony of the most sublime kind. Granted, the dizzying flights of prog fancy attained by earlier Flower Kings recordings (not to mention the Transatlantic stuff) are not realized here. They are, however, definitely hinted at.
The longer numbers, in my opinion, are the better ones. There appear to be a few of each, so let’s get down to the job of some analyzation, shall we. I prefer to get the short numbers out of the way first, so let’s look briefly at The Rain Song (merely an intro at a minute-and-a-half), and could probably be removed – again, in my opinion. I’m sorry, but I’m sick of everybody throwing an eerie intro to your cd and calling it a song, or a track, or whatever. Not a track. Next to a Hurricane, same thing save for a triumphant bluesy solo that starts at around 2 minutes in. Baby Angels features mandolin and vocals shining. There are also lightly tapped cymbals, violins, bass, and vocals – very mellow but not bad. Six-Thirty Wake-Up has a pretty intro but that’s about it. I absolutely adored the sole instrumental, The Alchemist, which at just under 7 minutes long is actually still one of the shorter tunes! It is positively funky, with some cool basslines and a sax solo thrown in about the two-and-a-half minute mark.
Amidst the longer tracks are Lost America, an uplifting track with loads of bass and some brilliant, intricate leads. Ze Pawns also features triumphant leads and pretty keyboards. There are some spoken word and FX things going on here as well, but the message is a good one. High Road is the longest, and at twelve-and-a-half minutes it is lengthy, to be sure, but nothing like some of the recordings of Mssr. Stolt‘s grandiose past. Rio Grande is very good, with some really beautiful guitar work. The drummer is very busy! This stuff is mostly jazzy and proggy, but look no further if it is metal ye seek. The Spell of Money busts out right away with lovely leads, but gets a bit ponderous towards the end.
Bottom line is, if you are a fan of progressive rock, this is right up your alley! If you are after progressive metal, perhaps it is time to look a bit further. Scroll upward, please!
1. Rain Song
2. Lost America
3. Ze Pawns
4. High Road
5. Rio Grande
6. Next to a Hurricane
7. The Alchemist
8. Baby Angels
9. Six-Thirty Wake Up
10. The Spell of Money
Playing Time: 69 minutes 31 seconds
Roine Stolt - guitars, keys, vocals
Marco Minneman - drums
Michael Stolt and Jonas Reingold - basses
Robert Townshend - woodwinds
Max Lorentz - Hammond
Nad Sylvan and Hasse Froberg - vocals
Zach Kamins - keyboards
and a stray dog