Thursday, February 19, 2009

Masterpieces of Music: Monsters and Men

I have always loved The Flower Kings since I first heard their music. The last CD I bought before I went on my mission was "Adam and Eve" which I loved to death. It was one of the first albums I was excited to listen to when returning from my mission. So, I can't tell you how excited I was to recieve their new CD "Paradox Hotel" that had come out while I was on my mission. I had heard that it began with a great epic called "Monsters and Men" that all fans of classic Flower Kings would love it. So I listened expecting "love at first listen". Instead, I was baffled because the song didn't connect with me at all. I was dissapointed with myself, and tried to listen to it a few more times before I decided that there was finally a Flower Kings epic I didn't like.

Then, I was walking one day to BYU campus, and I had my ipod on shuffle as usual and this song came up. I almost skipped it, but then decided to let it play, and I was completely blown away! The emotional power of this song gripped me and I was almost in tears as I walked on campus that day. The song was touching me so deeply that I took a longer route to get to class so that I would be able to listen to the whole song. I couldn't believe that this song had never connected with me before. But, now, the song is one of my favorites of all time and my favorite Flower Kings song by far. I also must confess something- unless it is Neal Morse, I don't pay much attention to lyrics, so I'm not completely sure what the song is about lyrically. But, I know that the Flower Kings are all about optimism and hope and those qualities shine through the music. I love this song for the way it makes me feel as I listen and for the smile it puts on my face.

From the soft, serene piano opening, you know you are in for a treat. Then, Roine Stolt's guitar comes in for its heavenly melody before Hasse's voice comes in, starting the song in full force. I love the guitar lick at the first break from the singing, one of my favorites of all time. Then, Tomas Bodin comes back in with the great calm piano medley from the beginning of the song that leads back into the guitar lick I love being played mainly by Roine Stolt. It is hard to put into words the great feelings that wash over me as I listen to this melody as Roine Stolt and Tomas Bodin trade off in their virtuosic solos. It is Flower Kings perfection to the highest degree. It gives a distinct feeling that this song is not of this world, which is really a theme of the whole album in general.

Tomas Bodin plays more great piano, before Roine Stolt comes in with his voice to sing the next section. I really love his voice- it is so unique and fits the Flower Kings music like a glove. Roine Stolt compliments this section with some great guitar work. I am so impressed with how Roine and Tomas shine instrumentally throughout the whole piece. They really work well together and many of the solos in this song contain them playing simultaneously. There is a funny little section with a bouncy keyboard melody from Tomas interrupted by some mischevious laughter. It is a fun little section that ends with some great Organ work from Tomas. Once again, this leads right into another perfect Stolt solo that really rocks. I also love the drumming here, it really provides a great backdrop for Stolt and Bodin to shine.

Then we get into a heartfelt section led by Hasse's great clean voice. It is very reminiscent of Yes, especially the song Close to the Edge. There are some great harmonies that really lift this section. It is stunningly beautiful. This section moves along seamlessly with some more great piano playing from Tomas- I love the melody he plays here, it is so majestic. Then, things slow down even more for an emotionally heartwrenching guitar solo from Roine. I am so impressed with how he is able to just produce these amazing guitar solos in every project he is involved in. It is really amazing and makes him one of my favorite guitarists of all time. It really soars here before going back into one of the main melodies in the piece for a grand finale of epic proportions. It is truly one of the best examples of Roine Stolt's talent at the guitar. Then, the song fades away and the listener is left to ponder its brilliance.

I truly love this piece of art. Although I may not completely understand the lyrics, I feel the power in the music. The Flower Kings are masters at creating a mood in their music and I feel the majesty and positivity that this piece displays. I truly love it and feel it is the perfect representation of what the Flower Kings are all about. Truly brilliant!

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