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Final Conflict - Simple CD (album) cover

SIMPLE

Final Conflict

 

Neo-Prog

3.13 | 23 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Simply great!

When this CD finally found its way into my hands, I already knew most of the songs. Some of them are available for free streaming on the band's MySpace page and others were featured on the excellent live DVD Another Moment In Time. Simple was released in 2006, but several of the tracks are re-recorded versions of much older songs some of which were written in the early days of Final Conflict's history i.e. in the 1980's before the release of their first proper studio album in 1991. Two of the tracks here are re-recordings of songs that were originally released on that debut album, called Redress The Balance, and another one was originally featured on the band's second official album, Quest. I have not heard all of the original versions of these songs (yet), so I cannot compare them as such. But these versions are great, that much I can tell you! The only three songs that I had not heard before are Channel 8, Pangea's Child and the ten minute plus closer It Should Have Been Simple. These songs live up to my expectations and fit in nicely among the previously familiar - to me, that is - rest.

The sound of Final Conflict is not your typical Neo-Prog. Rather, this is hard edged Rock with strong melodies and strong progressive aspects. Arena might come to mind occasionally, but the twin lead guitar and dual lead vocal approach of Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin gives Final Conflict a sound all of their own with also a strong presence of electronic keyboards, piano, acoustic guitars and harmony vocals. The focus lies distinctly on strong verses, progressive arrangements and great guitar and keyboard work rather than on catchy choruses. The keyboards are handled very well by Steve Lipiec who also provides some discrete saxophone lines to a couple of the songs.

This music is perhaps not genuinely groundbreaking nor truly unique, but Final Conflict is not imitating anyone as such. They have managed to carve out their own little niche somewhere between classic Rock, heavy Rock and Neo-Prog. There is a "classic" feel to the album, but it is not at all "retro" Prog. It is simply my type of music!

The album opens on a high note with Solitude which begins in an almost New-Age-like vein before it builds towards a potent guitar attack mediated by a strong somber vocal. A great way to open the album. Rebellion follows and picks up the tempo quite a bit - a powerful and quite heavy rocker this one with some very nice instrumental breaks. The Janus opens like a ballad with just piano and vocals, but some passages features a wild and theatrical vocal performance more typical of British Neo-Prog and as such it stands out as being different from the rest of the songs. Channel 8 is a more relaxed number similar to Solitude with acoustic guitars and a steady beat, this one is not among the best songs here but it gives an appealing diversity to the album as a whole. Pangea's Child is a better acoustically based song. The Following and All Alone are two of the album's strongest cuts with strong melodies and vocals. Finally, the nearly 11 minute closer takes us through most of the elements of the band's sound within a single track. We are treated to great melodic lead guitar and keyboard work throughout the whole album.

Deciding on a rating for this album was indeed simple for me. A solid four stars. Final Conflict is an overlooked and underrated band in my opinion and Simple is an album well worth checking out.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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