Susanna Wallumrød is a hell of a singer. Over the course of several albums with Morten Qvenild (as Susanna and the Magic Orchestra) and the previous solo release Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos, she's done up both original songs and covers with sparse accompaniment, letting her strong vocals lead the way. Flower Of Evil is the second "solo" release from Wallumrød and it again features the usual batch of Rune Grammofon players, including Helge Sten (Deathprod, Supersilent) and Pal Hausken (In The Country). Bonnie "Prince" Billy also appears on a couple songs as well.
As with past releases, a good portion of the fourteen songs on this newest album are covers, and Wallumrød tackles Nico, Thin Lizzy, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath, Tom Petty, and others. With backing instrumentation that's mostly organ/piano, guitars, and drums (along with various atmospherics and stunning production as usual), the songs veer between sparse and sometimes dense, usually completely at the hands of Sten (who does guitar duties here). Reed's "Vicious" is anything but, with rippling waves of feedback quietly drifting in the background behind the sharp words themselves (sung in a wounded way), while "Can't Shake Loose" finds Sten cracking off some incredibly evil shards of six string that provide some swarming crescendos to a song that largely lurks around the edges.
Both duets with Oldham are standouts, although it could be partially related to the song selections themselves ("Jailbreak" and the classic "Without You"), while Sabbath's "Changes" is morphed into a mellow little number that sounds completely unlike the original. Nico's "Janitor Of Lunacy" is given some appropriately wicked layers that float around the edges like a spectre. As one might guess, it's another super slow burner, and at almost seventy minutes is also her longest effort to date. Although there's certainly a nice effort to inject a bit of menace and subtle dynamics to the release, this long running length is a bit of a drag as well, as several songs could have easily been lopped to make it a bit more concise. As it stands, there's certainly some lovely music here, and if you're a fan of her work there's just a bit more to love.