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RETURN OF THE ARTISAN

Final Conflict

Neo-Prog


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Final Conflict Return of the Artisan album cover
4.04 | 79 ratings | 4 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. The Calling [1:16]
2. The Mechanic [7:42]
3. The Spark [2:00]
4. Hopes and Dreams [8:40]
5. Around About [7:36]
6. Babylon [5:12]
7. The Harlequin [8:40]
8. Keeper of Conscience [5:20]
9. Return of the Artisan [10:04]

Total Time 56:30

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Andy Lawton / vocals and guitars
- Brian Donkin / guitars and vocals
- Henry Rogers / drums
- Barry Elwood / bass
- Steve Lipiec / keyboards

Releases information

Gaolhouse Records
November, 2012

Thanks to mogol for the addition
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FINAL CONFLICT Return of the Artisan ratings distribution


4.04
(79 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
19%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
39%
Good, but non-essential (29%)
29%
Collectors/fans only (13%)
13%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

FINAL CONFLICT Return of the Artisan reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars Skirting on the fringes of the unknown , Final Conflict have been around for quite a while and slowly, like some resolute turtle showing a proggy finger to the hare, they have come to the frontline of modern neo-prog bands that excel in what they so stoutly believe in. The arrival of drum maestro Henry Rogers (Deeexpus, Touchstone) has given these veteran lads quite a jolt forward, as can be witnessed with the splendid "Another Moment of Time CD and DVD Live in Poland", a visual and aural documentary that shimmered vibrantly from beginning to end. Well, this vital live album has shoved them further into the limelight with a sizzling studio release, "Return of the Artisan" that stamps their prog ticket with massive splatter! The maturity is manifest from the very start as the individual performances are beyond the customary, as per Steve Lipiec's graceful piano and bassist Baz Elwood's dexterous technique littering the album with enchanting aplomb. Both Donkin and Lawton are expert vocalists and stunning axmen, some of the best in neo for sure. And as for Rogers, well, I have been drooling over his playing for a while, a meaty basher of the finest pedigree, a pure delight all the way through. The material proposed is vivid, powerful, bombastic, melodious and passionate. Fans of harder edged prog like Deeexpus, Mystery, RPWL, Galahad, IQ, Touchstone and Porcupine Tree will enjoy this tremendously. Easily and by far, the most surprising album of 2012!

"The Calling" is a brief intro, vocals alone sending a crisp message introducing the rapturous "The Mechanic", perhaps one of FC's finest comps, a bulldozing spooky colossus, lush with palpitating structures that morph into a pure Floydian soundscape of utter delicacy, a swerving and pulsating dazzle with the hereditary languorous guitar solo to die for. Spurting synth flashes splatter the rash guitar waves, pummeled by the brutal percussive rhythm, while the spoken word sections supply an unfathomable sense of unease. A metaphorical 2 minute piano ode, "The Spark" provides exactly that, an unruffled flame of impending desire to rock the listener's world with some serious music. Lipiec is simply stunning in his effortless elegance. Gorgeous!

The piano resumes its stately course by introducing "Hopes and Dreams", a longer piece that will slowly build up a bulldozer riff, allied by searchlight guitar beams that scream and scorch, bruising bass pylons and booming drum blasts. A sprightly organ solo adds some posh spice (okay, I am sorry for the bad wordplay!) to the already bubbly mixture. Lipiec will burn a synthesizer solo later as well. Numerous dual axe solos gracefully add their two-cent worth. The vocals have a little urgent Dave Cousins tinge ("Hero and Heroine" ?style), while the mellotron howls in the background. This highlight piece has this immense sense of accomplishment, as if it was always there, waiting to be heard.

"Around and About" has a breezier feel, though still honed to a sharp tone, propelled by some looping and revolving bass runs, (see the nature of the title!), underpinning complexity within a simple vocal formula is what distinguishes this band from so many others. Tinges of Middle Eastern rhythms give this arrangement a sense of dizziness and desperation. Slashing Andy Summers-like guitar phrasings, hazy electronic synths and impassionate vocals make this another stunning listening experience.

The extravagant "Babylon" shows off their softer side to be as radiant as their rockier penchant, a canvas of seductive synthesizers in a blessed wedding with suave vocals, a windswept sun kissed ballad of perpetual proportions and an unforgettable chorus that will stick to your soul. Screeching gulls, water splashing the dock and vaporous dream vocals converge amid the bass growl. Another splendid track!

The grandiloquent and beastly "Harlequin" has that doom-laden quality that immediately appeals, a musical universe where Bonham-style thumping bullies a raunchy guitar phalanx, the vocals both delirious and ecstatic. The tortuous synthesizer solo confirms the brilliance of the mood where hints of Saga, Galahad, Led Zeppelin and IQ all entangle the listener into a web of pleasure. Rogers pummels madly, darn good stuff, this! Elwood's bass guitar forges ahead unflinchingly, hurling the hypnosis forever forward. This will be a killer live track to finish off their set list.

"Keeper of Conscience" again shows off the polyvalent nature of the band songwriting, a brooding arrangement that transcends the formulaic and dives into darker territories, dare I say slightly experimental like mid-period Porcupine Tree. The hypnotic piano tingles, the harsh guitar wallops and the bass dances along for the ride, the sweet vocal section invites dreamy mirrored reflections, glinting in the fading sunlight. The proggiest selection on this startlingly delicious menu.

The 10 minute title track only serves to confirm the overall excellence, a sturdy and louder power ballad, with jangling guitars, proficient vocalizing, matchless melodies, bold and chivalrous rhythms and churlish solos that will please the discerning prog audiophile. The sonic talons are set into a massive groove from the first second and does not let go, squeezing hard and fast. This would be another seminal live selection, showcasing the various soloing talents available to rapturous applause. "You won't believe your" ears !

"Return of the Artisan" is an exalting sequence of first class tracks that have melody and meat, shining production values with crisp vocal expression, fascinating melodic contributions and truly expert musicianship from each member of the band. Not a single second of filler, no spam, no wasted emotions, a most impressive performance. Add on a gorgeous cover and the die is cast, a must have for the neo/symph progfan .

Looking forward to many further conflicts!

5 craftman revisits

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#895369) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 18, 2013

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Final Conflict were formed in 1985, and since then have strived to make much of an impact if any within the neo-prog field. Their albums haven't received much in the way of attention aside from a few rather mixed reviews here and there, and consequently I haven't found myself compelled to track them down at all until I started hearing the buzz on ProgArchives about this latest one of theirs, Return of the Artisan.

On this album, the band come from out of nowhere to spring to the forefront of their chosen style. It's theatrical neo-prog of a sort fans will have heard plenty of before, but the delivery is exceptional; Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin combine to deliver dramatic vocals and even more expressive guitar performances, with influences ranging from classic Pink Floyd to the latest trends in the heavier side of neo-prog (including some almost metal-like riffing on the schizophrenic The Mechanic). Keyboardist Steve Lipiec, meanwhile, proves adept at pulling off the same trick as Galahad's Dean Baker when it comes to incorporating modern electronic sounds into the prog keyboardist's repertoire as well as pulling out some passages reminiscent of Mark Kelly circa Script for a Jester's Tear.

In fact, when it comes to composition the band show a real mastery of a wide range of prog modes, from material reminiscent of the golden age of the 1970s to much more modern fare, and in particular they show a genius for mingling the styles in interesting ways in order to find fascinating combinations which really push the genre forward. They also show a fair degree of depth when it comes to their lyrical themes; I can sort of see the album as a thematic concept affair ruminating on the state of artistry in the world today and contrasting the approach of the Mechanic - who likes to grind out things according to a neat pattern for the sake of mass market appeal - and the Artisan, who would prefer to win the passionate devotion of a few instead of the mild approval of the many.

It's an apt summation of the place where music itself finds itself these days, with the Internet era suddenly making craftsmanship, a personal connection with the audience, and establishing yourself in a particular well-loved musical niche or subculture as opposed to simply pitching your stuff to the mass market has become more viable than ever thanks to the Internet providing vibrant sources of support and promotion for niche genres - like prog, for instance.

Rather appropriate, then, that such a concept should be used for a band which seems to be finally coming into its own. To my ears, Final Conflict may be pulling a "Galahad" with this album - Galahad being another neo-prog group who formed in the 1980s and were much influenced by the Marquee crowd, but failed to put out any albums which received more than lukewarm reviews on average until after decades of solid work they finally hit their groove. It remains to be seen whether this album wins Final Conflict a wider audience within the prog world, but it truly deserves to; likewise, if their next album is even half as good as this, Final Conflict will have carved out a place for themselves in the front rank of current neo-prog acts.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#897624) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Back in another lifetime I was sent a cassette of the third album by a young neo-prog band, but unfortunately it was faulty and didn't play properly. I wrote to the band (email didn't exist back then) and I was promptly sent a CD instead, the very first of the thousands of CDs I have received to review since then. Soon afterwards I saw them play at The Standard (I think with Landmarq, but maybe it was Mentaur?) where they then gave me my first free t-shirt. So, Final Conflict have a special place in my personal neo-prog history and when I started writing reviews again after some time away, Andy Lawton was one of the ones I contacted to inform them of the fact. Andy then kindly sent me their latest album, which is what I am playing now. From those heady days of the early Nineties only Andy and Brian Donkin remain, but it is not only the membership that has changed as while I enjoyed the early albums ('Quest' is well worth tracking down) the guys have undertaken a major step change since then.

While the twin guitars and vocals are still important, what we have now is a band that is polished and in total control, ensuring that they provide an edge to the music so that while the keyboards of Steve Lipiec are incredibly important it is the guitars that shine against the backdrop. The rhythm section also add to the overall sound as while Barry Elwood often maintains a lead melody line while the rest go off on tangents, Henry Rogers' drumming provides an additional depth. While he is happy to maintain the beat and keep everyone on the straight and narrow, there are also times when he provides powerful fills and touches that takes the menace to a new level. He is a very 'heavy' drummer, none of this arty-farty stuff; he hits the kit hard and ensures that everyone knows that this is a rock band first and foremost.

There have been quite a few bands from the late Eighties/early Nineties who have been delivering the goods over the last eighteen months, and Final Conflict are definitely up there with the leaders of the pack. Hard-edged neo-prog with hints of Camel, Marillion, Winter and IQ, this is an album to savour. www.fc-music.com

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#970417) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 03, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars This UK band was established in 1985, the original group is Andy Lawton (vocals/guitar) and Brian Donkin (guitar/vocals). The last release of Final Conflict is the Cd/DVD "Another Moment in Time - Live in Poland" published in 2009. Moreover, with this release the band presented their two new r ... (read more)

Report this review (#895628) | Posted by spacefolk | Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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