I believe this might just be my favorite Flower Kings release. They have put out great albums before and since. They have released other wonderful two disc sets. I like Unfold the Future because it ably shows all different sides of who Roine Stolt and his exceedingly capable band are.
We have the big grand symphonic epics in “The Truth Will Set You Free” and “”Devil’s Playground.” These are both quite lengthy pieces at close to 31 and 24 ˝ minutes respectively. Even the 14 ˝ minute “Silent Inferno” length pales in comparison! All these cuts are exciting and innovative prog music with crystal clear vocals and superior production. They never fail to capture interest at any moment throughout their extensive length.
How about the ability to write a short concise piece that might (in a much much better world) be considered a pop song? “Monkey Business” says everything you could possibly want to know about this band in just over four minutes. Complete and compact, how do they do that? Gorgeous harmonies on the chorus, lead vocal from Roine, Frank Zappa influenced musical motif, lovely vocal refrain from Hasse Froberg’s crystal clear voice, a healthy dose of rock and roll, and a big ol’ grand finish with symphonic keyboards courtesy of Thomas Bodin and the guitar solo and-and-and… Excuse me, did I just go to prog heaven in less than five minutes? Talk about your premature climaxes.
Other great, more concise pieces “The Navigator” “Rollin’ the Dice” “Man Overboard” and “Solitary Shell” are all confident, expertly performed examples of what can be done within four or five minutes while sustaining an essence of progressive rock. The there’s “Vox Humana,” with its absolutely beautiful melody that Hasse just slays. The vocals on Unfold the Future are among the best they’ve ever been and they are already known to have amazing capabilities in that area. I’ll tip that hat to Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlow guesting here, as he is the only vocalist tipping the scale from previous albums by the group.
Mid-length songs are here as well and do not disappoint. “Black and White,” “Genie in a Bottle” and “Fast Lane” all have highly commendable qualities. The latter has a lively rhythmic gait furnished by bassist Jonas Reingold and drummer Zoltan Csorsz. Their performance on this recording cannot go without mention, as the rhythm section is stellar. Orchestral percussionist Hasse Bruniusson and Ulf Wallander on sax add much in the way of color and are at their best on songs like “Grand Old World” and some of the more experimental works throughout this recording.
Looking for even more variety? How about the jazz rock influenced “”Christianopel,” “Soul Vortex” and “The Devil’s Danceschool.” The latter (aside from being a great title) is a tour de force for trumpet player Anders Bergcrantz. This and the other two songs maintain a fusion of Brand X meeting Return to Forever on a bill with Zappa while sitting in the “Waiting Room” from Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down.
The Flower Kings display a vast array of styles and influences on Unfold the Future. This is what we call a “free-wheelin’ affair” if you’re at my folk’s house, a lil’ bit of everything and a whole bunch a fun. Here we have inventive prog that is accessible, esoteric and original! This superb Flower Kings album is among my highest recommendation for fans of melodic symphonic prog rock.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on May 21st, 2012