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Articles Home » 2005 Articles » Flagship - 2005 Maiden Voyage
Flagship - 2005 Maiden Voyage

Christian Rivel - vocals
Linus Kase - keyboards

Carl Johan Grimmark - guitars
Kristofer Eng - bass
Mick Nordstrom - drums
Kerry Livgren - guitar solo 'Ground Zero'

I guess this is a case of where imitation and adoration meet head on. Damn, if this isn't Kansas from their 70's heyday then I'll be a monkeys uncle! What is even more strange, is that Flagship are a Swedish duo: Christian Rivel and Linus Kase from prog metallers Narnia. Why they've chosen to go back in time only they know, but it is apparent that their love of 70's prog/pomp rock is hung out on the clothes line for all to see. This is so Kansas in fact, that even the violin parts are reminiscent of Robby Steinhardt, and yet he is nowhere to be seen. Well, that might be a dramatic call, but not to be outdone, traces of Queen and Styx like pomposity rear its head> By and large, this is so embalmed in 'Masque', 'Songs For America' vintage Kansas that you'd hardly think that thirty years have passed us by. Yes people, three decades!! Though the theme might be decidely 70's, the guitarwork of Carl Johan Grimmark (himself a Narnia member) makes sure we have our feet firmly planted in the 21st century, and as a result, patches of Robby Valentine's solo work and other current-day prog talent seeps through the mix. Only six tracks onboard (Todd Rundgren.. eat your heart out!), just like the good old days aye? but the music is surely top-heavy in drawn out pomp passages that will have lovers of mellotrons and organs drooling in the aisles.

The Songs
Starting out with the epic 'Heart Is The Center', it takes you on a journey through highs and lows, light and shade, ebb and flow.. everything that is definitive in a genre like this. At 7 min 43s, this is majestic pomp not heard since.. well.. how about 1975? 'You Are' is a poignant and delicate piece initially. Piano introduction and deft vocals leads us into some restrained pomp a la Robby Valentine, who as we know is heavily influenced by Queen anyway! The song really starts taking hold mid way through, with a superb chorus, and some OTT keyboard solo work from Kase. The dexterity displayed here puts him in the same class as Derek Sherinian and Jordan Rudess. Woah! 'The Throne' is a compelling blend of Queen harmonies and Kansas structure, played out on top of a 21st prog-rock backdrop. The undulations take you on a merry journey that'll have you scratching your head wondering what decade you're in. The fourth track 'Hold Onto Your Dream' moves ahead in tempo somewhat. The stabbing pianos, multi-layered harmonies and accelerated choruses prove the difference on this 6min 40s extravaganza. A true pomp rockers wet dream! 'Windy City' is the title taken from Flagship's initial band-name before changing it. They've kept the song title though, the song itself a bit dreary initially, though it does spark up a bit toward the end there. Keeping with tradition, Kerry Livgren a stalwart of Kansas as we all know, makes an appearance on 'Ground Zero', his own track incidentally (taken from 1980's 'Seeds Of Change'), given a new burst of life by keyboardist Linus Kase. I guess you can't get anymore Kanas than this aye?

In Summary
Just how a pomp album like 'Maiden Voyage' gets to sit on a record label like Metal Heaven is unusual in my eyes. And considering this album is a little bit 'out there' in terms of contemporary styles and genre, it is either going to be a huge hit, or a huge miss. However, Kansas fans will need no second invitation to take a bite at any cherry which smells of their favourite band, or renditions thereof. Definitely one of the year's more interesting releases, and with me being a big Kansas fan anyway, I feel spoiled but I'm certainly not complaining. Though there are six tracks, there is a power of listening to be had. Without doubt I feel this is going to be one of my favourite releases of the year. 'Carry On Wayward Son' anybody?

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Track Listing:
01 Heart Is The Center
02 You Are
03 The Throne
04 Hold On To Your Dream
05 Windy City
06 Ground Zero


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#1 | Jez on June 16 2008 12:11:56
In fact this is so Kansas like in places it's scary. Check out the opening to the first track 'Heart Is The Center' & you think you've put the wrong disc on. Only 6 tracks on show here but all weigh in at the 6-9 minutes, so this isn't one for the casual listener. The only minor grumble is with the Accented vocals, otherwise a Prog/Pomp fans wet dream
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