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'Banks Of Eden'
(Inside Out Music)

Michael Foley

michael foley

flower kings banks of eden

Every four years the Olympic Games are held but Swedish heroes The Flower Kings, in true epic prog-rock style have waited five years to release a new album, 'Banks Of Eden'. They have not been lazy boys though; since the release of 'The Sum Of No Evil', the group have pursued their own different projects, the most high profile being prog supergroup Transatlantic with featuring band leader Roine Stolt, along with Neal Morse and other prog notables.

Opening with a drum roll, then crashing guitar chords, the first track 'Numbers' says WE ARE BACK in no uncertain terms. This song showcases what TFK are all about; intricate yet beautiful melodies, with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics, backed up with some superb musicianship.

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At 25 minutes, or the whole of Side One in old money, it's a true epic and certainly holds the listener's attention throughout. Flowing like a river, it is sometimes stately and majestic, and at other moments it is a rippling brook, lively and playful.

Lyrically the song is a musing on the conflicts between the spiritual and the material, telling us how we can be too easily influenced by money, fame and possessions, at the expense of love and spirituality. This verse is a great example:

"You look around for the brightest minds
Or just a few simple words of kindness
A world gone shallow, cold and mean
It's like a wasteland void of dreams"

The other (shorter!) songs on the album cover similar themes, with for example, 'For The Love Of Gold' exploring how working for big business diminishes one's individuality, and deadens the human spirit. 'Pandemonium', 'For Those About To Drown' and 'Rising The Imperial' all in their different ways also cover the greed and shallowness of 21st century life.

Thanks to such recurring ideas and themes, it is appropriate to use the phrase 'concept album' here. If you like lyrics that make you think, and touch you emotionally then there is much to enjoy here.

Musically the album is Prog with a capital 'P', with lashings of old skool keyboards, and technically brilliant playing. Unlike much of this genre, it's not mindless noodling. Each song has a definite structure, and each instrument has its own place in building that structure. There is not a note or solo that is just there as pure showboating.

Although each song can be enjoyed individually, the use of repeated phrases and riffs does give the album a very unified feel, best enjoyed in one session. The music has a real enthusiasm to it, which is no surprise when you discover that the backing tracks were played live in the studio, then overdubbed upon as needed. No recording drums today, and bass tomorrow here. This is a band playing together, and it shows.

This does not have the immediacy of impact that some other music has, and it takes repeated listening to fully grasp what TFK are striving for both musically and lyrically. On first listen I found 'Banks Of Eden' to be a pleasant sounding album, with some pretty tunes and good guitar solos. Keep listening though, and the subtleties of the musicianship, plus the emotions contained in the words soon make sense.

It pays to hear the album in the best possible quality. I had an MP3 for review, and although that was perfectly adequate, the CD and vinyl versions with their superior resolution do make it much easier to hear everything that is going on in the mix.

Both the double LP/CD special edition and Digipack two CD version feature four bonus tracks, which don't quite fit the theme of the main album, but are worth having and enjoying. Mention of the vinyl edition brings me to the artwork. Quite simply, it looks stunning in the 12" gatefold format. If you fancy giving 'Banks Of Eden' a whirl, then this is the one to go for, as you get fabulous artwork, and the whole album on CD, so even if you don't have a record player you can still enjoy it.

The Flower Kings have done themselves proud on this album, and serious prog fans will truly love it, although it does deserve a wider audience. I'm not a massive progger, but I think this is a fantastic piece of work, and any rock fan who wants to try something challenging, yet rewarding, really should give it a try.


For The Love Of Gold
For Those About To Drown
Rising The Imperial

Illuminati (Bonus Track)
Fireghosts (Bonus Track)
Going Up (Bonus Track)
LoLines (Bonus Track)

Extra Material:
Interview with the band in the studio - video feature.




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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