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Final Conflict - Stand Up CD (album) cover

STAND UP

Final Conflict

 

Neo-Prog

3.58 | 40 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars The first (and best) of three great albums!

I started reviewing the albums by Final Conflict in reverse chronological order starting with their most recent studio release to date, 2006's Simple (which contained some re-recorded versions of older material going back to the 80's), continuing with 2003's Hindsight and now I have come to 1997's Stand Up. All of these three albums are very strong and show a confident band with its own musical identity, but I must say that Stand Up is the best of the three. Still now, after quite some time after my initial discovery of this album, I still play it regularly which is a sign of its staying power.

The above mentioned trio of albums differs in style from the band's first two CD releases where they had yet to find their own musical niche somewhere between hard edged Neo-Prog and classic Rock. With Stand Up they found it and this is simply a great piece of work. There is a more serious tone to the music of Final Conflict and it is less theatrical compared to the usual suspects in British Neo-Prog. As I said in previous reviews, the music of Final Conflict is not breathtakingly original by any means, but they have found their own sound - a sound that appeals to me a lot with its strong presence of clean and edgy lead guitars, mellow yet powerful harmony vocals and lots of expressive modern keyboards.

From what I understand, it took the band many years to complete the present album and work on this album began as early as immediately after the completion of Quest which was released in 1992. Stand Up is bookended by two songs that were previously familiar to me from the band's live DVD, Another Moment In Time. The first of these is the title track which is a great song in both its live and studio version. It is, however, the impressive 15 minute plus Stop that stands out as one of Final Conflict's absolute finest and most progressive moments. The band has stated that these two songs are thematically connected to each other with the first one being addressed to the older generation and the latter to the younger. The album as a whole is however not conceptual as such.

What is found in between the closing and opening tracks is no less appealing to me. Signature In The Sand, Whiteline Highway and Wasteland are strong numbers that took a few listens before they revealed their full quality to me. There are some female background vocals on some of the songs which is a bit unusual for the band but it clearly works for the better. T230 is a keyboard heavy number that also features some very tasteful acoustic guitar lines. 11 and Omen are short almost ambient instrumentals that function as great interludes between the more progressive and harder edged songs. This makes the album varied and despite having a running time of almost 70 minutes, the album keeps me interested throughout which is impressive as many albums with such a substantial length simply become too much for me. The tone is the same throughout which makes the album consistent, but there is enough diversity to make the album an organic unity of which each track is a winner in its own right. Miss D'Meanour is another song that was featured on the aforementioned live DVD, it is another good song, but possibly the least good of the album.

As I've also said before, Final Conflict is an overlooked and underrated band. All of the band's three most recent albums (of which the present one was the first) are excellent additions.

I should add also that this album has recently been re-released by Metal Mind Productions with two bonus tracks. The first of these is a re-recorded version of a song that originally was featured on the Hindsight album while the second is a brand new song. Both are very worthy additions to the album and enhances its value even more.

SouthSideoftheSky | 5/5 |

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