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QUEST

Final Conflict

 

Neo-Prog

2.99 | 21 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Waiting for their chance

Quest was Final Conflict's second CD release and it is quite different from their debut, the more conventional Redress The Balance. Quest is a conceptual affair and overall a lot more progressive compared to the debut. With its occasional narration and many keyboard-based instrumental interludes, it reminds me a bit of the self-titled and sole album by Casino, a one off group with Clive Nolan, Karl Groom and Geoff Mann released the same year as Quest. Early Galahad might also come to mind and both Galahad and Pendragon are thanked in the liner notes. Final Conflict is not your usual Neo-Prog band, but Quest is probably the closest they came to the expected British Neo-Prog sound. The concept of Quest revolves around crosswords and in addition to the usual CD booklet with full lyrics, the album also comes with a foldout sheet with a crossword! I haven't tried to solve it (yet).

Two of the album's songs were previously familiar to me. All Alone later resurfaced in a new version on the band's 2006 studio album Simple (which contained several re-recorded versions of older material) and both this song and also Waiting For A Chance were featured on the band's recent live DVD, Another Moment In Time. These two are certainly among the better songs on Quest but the more recent versions are better. They have a better sound compared to these original versions. All Alone in particular lacks the punch that they managed to inject into the 2006 version. The melodic Waiting For A Chance has something of a Celtic feel in the guitar melody that I like a lot.

The rest of the album is not at all bad either, but some of the better songs would probably benefit from the same treatment that was given All Alone on Simple. While nicely recorded and produced, the drum and keyboard sounds in particular are a bit "artificial" and the vocal talents of Brian Donkin and Andy Lawton had yet to reach their full potential. There is indeed a lot of potential displayed on Quest overall, but the band had yet to fully find their own musical identity at this point. Let's hope that they consider recording a Simple part II with further re-recorded songs from their early days. Old Lady is a good song from the present album that should be taken into consideration if they do. Some other songs, however, like A Look At Life for example, are more conventional Rock tracks that perhaps would fit better on the debut. While there are no weak tracks as such here, there are a few "grey" areas on this album. But I still find it very pleasant and enjoyable on the whole.

Quest is certainly a good Neo-Prog album that will please followers of the genre in general and fans of Final Conflict in particular. It is not, however, as great as anything that followed. I would strongly recommend beginners to start with the band's three subsequent studio albums: Stand Up, Hindsight and Simple, which are all excellent, as well as the great recent live DVD that brings together some of their best ever songs in one place. But if you still want more after that, Quest is a good addition to your collection.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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