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FINAL CONFLICT

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Final Conflict picture
Final Conflict biography
Founded in Stoke-On-Trent, UK in 1985 - Still active as of 2019

FINAL CONFLICT plays neo prog with influences from MARILLION. Musically their sound may remind of EGDON HEATH, lots of accent and color, with solo guitar outbursts, shifting rhythms and excellent guitar-keyboard correlations. The emphasis is on vocal oriented compositions. The musicianship is solid and supportive of the song and vocalist.

"Quest" is a concept album and this story draws parallels between crossword puzzles and life...The musical style on this album is quite simple but lush, well done yet accessable. Their style reminds me a bit of ILUVATAR, particularly their vocalist, but also in the melodic arrangements.

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FINAL CONFLICT discography


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FINAL CONFLICT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
The Time Has Arrived
1987
2.52 | 24 ratings
Redress the Balance
1991
3.01 | 31 ratings
Quest
1992
3.51 | 51 ratings
Stand Up
1997
3.17 | 28 ratings
Hindsight
2003
2.83 | 26 ratings
Simple
2006
4.02 | 116 ratings
Return of the Artisan
2012
3.75 | 35 ratings
The Rise of the Artisan
2020

FINAL CONFLICT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.13 | 8 ratings
Another Moment in Time - Live in Poland
2009

FINAL CONFLICT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.71 | 9 ratings
Another Moment in Time - Live in Poland (DVD)
2009

FINAL CONFLICT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FINAL CONFLICT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
My England
1989

FINAL CONFLICT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Stand Up by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.51 | 51 ratings

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Stand Up
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by CygnusX72

4 stars First day random review from my collection, and it's a relatively recent addition for me, after rediscovering Final Conflict during lockdown. My initial encounter with this band was the "Redress the Balance" album many moons ago, which left me unimpressed and led me to ignore this band...but recently on the hunt for missed gems, the rightful high rating for "Return of the Artisan" fired my interest.

FC play neo-prog in a pretty straightforward style, melodic, with nods to Genesis and Pink Floyd - track T230 has more than a hint of "Home by the Sea" for example. Thematically, it's mostly social comment. Opener "Stand Up" is one of their best numbers, and the album closes superbly with the powerful and bombastic "Stop". "Signature in the Sand" is also excellent, bar a short disjointed passage. Sadly there's a bit of a sag in the album with "Days Gone By" and "Miss D'Meanour" - those rather pedestrian efforts being a bit of a weakness of Final Conflict's work.

The dual guitar and dual vocals of Donkin and Lawton provides a nice point of difference, and a sprinkling of nice female supporting vocal work also enhances the sound here. Overall, there's some real quality, meriting 4 stars when I overlook the 2 or 3 less interesting tracks. One for those with a penchant for neo-prog in a more melodic, rocky, style.

This one sits nicely alongside their excellent "Return of the Artisan", which I thoroughly recommend, and what I consider to be something of a flawed masterpiece, "Quest".

 The Rise of the Artisan by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.75 | 35 ratings

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The Rise of the Artisan
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This UK Neo-prog formation was founded in 1985 by singer Brian Donkin and singer/guitarist Andy Lawton. Two years later the band released its debut entitled Channel 8 (a demo tape), in 1989 followed by The Time Has Arrived (also as a demo tape). In 1992 Final Conflict released the album Redress The Balance, my first musical encounter with the band. I even witnessed Final Conflict in the legendary Dutch venue Paradiso in Amsterdam during a SI Music triple-concert (in September 1992), with Dutch formation Wings Of Steel and fellow UK band Galahad. One year later Final Conflict released Quest. Then the band kept on releasing albums but with long breaks: Stand Up in 1997, Hindsight in 2003, Simple in 2006, the release of Final Conflict its first live DVD and CD entitled Another Moment In Time in 2009, Return Of The Artisan in 2012 and recently The Rise Of The Artisan (2020). This is the second part of a trilogy, 'The Artisan' is a character struggling in a world dominated by mercenary and financially based decision makers. Meanwhile long-time drummer Chris Moyden died in 2005, due to a long lasting disease, his loss was a great blow to Final Conflict, both personally and musically.

Over the last 35 years Final Conflict have gigged extensively both in the UK and abroad, and continue to generate an increasingly substantial fan base both in the live arena and through their back catalogue. Its success was acknowledged in 2007, when they were nominated in 5 categories at The Classic Rock Society's BOTY awards. They were voted second best band and also received rave reviews for their powerful live shows. In 2008, at the same awards, they were presented with the MD's award by Steve Hackett of Genesis.

I was very curious to this album (featuring founding members Donkin and Lawton) because I haven't listened to Final Conflict since Redress The Balance and Quest, and because its music is way more appreciated after these two albums. The precursor The Return Of The Artisan is even considered as the band its best work, so high expectations! Well, during my first listening session I notice that this Final Conflict sounds 'a million miles' more interesting, dynamic and elaborate than the Final Conflict I know from the 1991 and 1992 albums. A strong point is the colouring of the music by the guitars and keyboards, in almost every composition these instruments add a special flavour. Like a spacey synthesizer solo and a fiery guitar solo in A Clockwork Echo. Pink Floyd kind of guitar parts in Stop & Stare, a pitchbend driven synthesizer solo and fiery guitar in the hypnotizing 4 Domains. Catchy piano runs with strong vocals in This Pulse. And lush Hammond organ and mellow vocals in the final song Breaking The Cycle (post Roger Waters Pink Floyd atmosphere).

My highlight is the titletrack. First sound effects, then a tight beat with a bombastic sound delivering powerful organ and guitar riffs, no doubt, this is the realm of Neo-prog (with hints from Pallas). Next a mellow part with piano and tender vocals, gradually the music turns more lush featuring sultry keyboard sound, pleasant vocals and powerful guitar riffs. After a mellow part with a dreamy Floydian synthesizer solo and moving electric guitar solo, finally a slow rhythm with melancholy vocals, culminating in a bombastic conclusion with a compelling guitar solo.

Well done by these Neo-Prog veterans!

My rating: 3,5 star.

This review was previously published on the website of Background Magazine, the oldest Dutch progrock source.

 The Rise of the Artisan by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.75 | 35 ratings

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The Rise of the Artisan
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Andy Lawton and I were chatting one day, and I happened to mention that not only were Final Conflict the first band ever to send me a CD to review, they were also the very first band to give me a t-shirt the first time I saw them play at The Standard. We both laughed over not only had the shirt gone missing but also the size of body it used to fit ' we were born within a week of each other in 1963, and we were reminiscing over a time nearly 30 years ago ' so imagine my surprise when the new album turned up, and also in the envelope was a 'new' t-shirt for 'Redress The Balance' in the correct size so I could wear it with pride! So to the album, which for some reason has taken eight years to appear since 'Return of the Artisan', but I note the band are currently indicated as a four-piece as drummer Henry Rogers is no longer involved, which may have caused some issues. As ever, the band is fronted by Andy Lawton (guitars, lead vocals) and Brian Donkin (guitars, lead vocals) and they are joined by Steve Lipiec (keyboards) and Barry Elwood (bass). Steve has been there since the wonderful second CD 'Quest' back in 1992 while Barry is just a newbie having only played on the last album and this one (drums on the album are provided by Eden Longson).

Final Conflict always stood out among the neo-prog bands of the 90's as there really was no-one else quite like them. Not only did they have two lead singers, but both frontmen also played electric guitar, which provided a very different dynamic indeed, yet they never veered into the realm of prog metal. Racking my brain, the only other prog band of the time I can remember with two guitarists were Jump, who also had a sound very much their own and were quite different to FC (I did see Threshold a few times back in the early days but they were also way more metallic). Putting this album on was like being reintroduced to an old friend, as although the songs are all new, FC truly are distinctive and I have always felt they never really got the attention and acclaim they deserved ' perhaps if they had been able to play London more often it would have been different, and with this being just their third album in 14 years they have not been the most active. But quality always beats quantity, and here we have an album which demonstrates just why they have been able to keep going for so long. Strong material combined with good vocals, often dual harmony, keyboards providing backdrop and finesse to strong rock hooks, and a rhythm section which understands when to be in your face and when to drop back and let the others take control. It is a very easy album to listen to, Final Conflict have always been more songs-based then 'see how clever I am', and they always make me think of BJH even though they sound nothing like them.

Final Conflict have to my mind always been one of the finest neo prog bands around, and although that term is used by some to denigrate the music being performed, to me it is a true sub-genre, with these guys being one of the best exponents. Although there are a few moments when the music is somewhat reminiscent of Winter, it generally just reminds me of classic Final Conflict. I still have 'Redress The Balance' in my playlist some 29 years on from when I first heard it, and I can see 'The Rise of the Artisan' joining it.

 Hindsight by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.17 | 28 ratings

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Hindsight
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Final Conflict did not avoid another long gap between the third and fourth album.Apparently tired of chasing labels and searching for a new contract, they invested on their own Gaolhouse Studio and decided to establish their own recording label for promoting their albums.''Hindsight'' would be the first in line of FC albums to follow on Gaolhouse label, it was released at the fall of 2003.

Inbetween the new incidents Final Conflict also decided to take a long trip to the past and revisit their very early days, when their material had still a rockin' touch, but was simultaneously based on the principles of MARILLION and the likes.As a result ''Hindsight'' features a more elaborate and melodic sound, always based on supertight songwriting and rich guitar and keyboard backgrounds, the material reminds me a lot of the lyrical songs of Fish-era MARILLION, albeit with a slightly harder touch.They tend to even plagiarize some of the masters' tunes from the 83'-85' period with the flashy and dreamy keyboard interludes, the light guitar moves and the strong lyricism, but the rise of the electric guitars and the overall dynamics are definitely trademarks of Final Conflict.''Hindsight'' appears to be one of the most balanced albums of Final Conflict, keyboards play a dominant role now and the furious electric solos are sitting next to them in a bunch of well-composed and -executed, long tracks with some minor symphonic touches and the always playful style of British Neo Prog.There are even some laid-back, almost spacious keyboard themes included and, despite the limited room for extended instrumental work, the album flows quite nicely in a convincing and grandiose musical enviroment.

One of the Final Conflict albums you should track down.Marking a new era for the band, ''Hindsight'' has this unmistakable MARILLION-esque magical touch and comes as a warmly recommended album for all those into song-based still intricate Prog Rock.

 Stand Up by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.51 | 51 ratings

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Stand Up
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by mbzr48

4 stars This is a solid album full of great prog rock. The production is fantastic, with every note spinning off the disc in crystal clarity, especially right out of the gate on the title track, "Stand Up". The steel pounding, drums, keys, and glistening guitars that open the song are just excellent. The cool crisp guitar work and keys continue to amaze as the song builds and there is no doubt this was meant to be not only an album opener, but the title for a whole project. "Stand up?, who are you, telling me what to do." Yeah, stand up for your rights. A great album opener.

"Signature in the Sand's" melody will bring back memories of Pink Floyd's "What Do You Want From Me", especially when Kristi joins in vocal support. The keyboard and guitar solo work is impressive making this another early favorite. The vocals are not as unique and powerful as what I heard on Another Moment in Time. An interesting Saga ? sounding journey from this era of progressive rock.

The orchestrated keyboards and synthesizers effects at the beginning of "Whiteline Highway" makes it one of the best songs on the album.

"T230" is a great keyboard and guitar extravaganza before the vocals join in. The lyrics are excellent and full of emotions and the passion of love. Andy and Kristi do an excellent job of bringing out the feeling of these lyrics well. With much of the music up front, this is my favorite song on the album.

This band really knows how to open a song beautifully with great instrumentals and "Days Gone By" is just another example of that ability. The keyboards are fantastic throughout this song.

"Stop" is an epic about the decline of modern society in the UK, complete with vocalized news headlines. The lyrics are powerful and the epic proportion of the music supports the emotional cries of the vocals well. The guitar, keyboards and drums are some of the best on the album.

This album is a great snapshot of the band at this place and time in their career. The instrumentals and epics will definitely fill your music catalog full of new impressions and sounds. The bonus tracks are worth the price of admission alone, even if you have the original version. "Moment in Time" will bring back memories of U2, with its cool lead guitar opening, but the piano and bass later are terrific. "Losing it All's" wonderful acoustic guitar and keys are a wonderful way to close the album. The electric chords and sax are extravagant additions to this previously unreleased track. This one brings back memories of late 70s/early 80s era Genesis. Very good. For me a solid 4 stars!

 Stand Up by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.51 | 51 ratings

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Stand Up
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars really

Third album named Stand up issued in 1997 after almost 5 years since the second one Quest, find Final Conflict a more mature with more intresting material as on previous two albums, who were not quite bad at all in neo prog circles. The line up established permanetly on Quest now is more confident in their skills and tight in arrangements. Stand up is probably among their best album is not the best album they ever made, at least to me. This is catchy consistent neo prog with nice guitars and keyboards, elaborated passages but aswell some more directly parts aswell , make from this release a winner in my book. All pieces stands as good, n particulary bad moments here at all, some forte ones might be Whiteline Highway, or the closer Stop. Still Final Conflict remaining largely unknown in neo prog zone, even they released over the years some respectable albums, in vein of Pallas, Galahad, Egdon Heath and others. 3 solid stars rounded to 3.5 in many places. Stand up is a head above Quest who was not bad, but this time they done it almost perfectly. Very underrated neo prog band and album. Desearves attention, their is some fine music here.

 Quest by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.01 | 31 ratings

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Quest
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Final Conflict is one of the lesser known neo-prog acts from UK scene from late'80s early '90s with all that they released some ok albums over the years. One of them is Quest issued in 1992, the second release. The music offered are quite standard neo prog, with influences from let's say Marillion but also IQ and quite similar with dutch Egdon Heath or americans Iluvatar who were contemporary with them. Nice guitars interplays with keyboards on the melodic side, nothing is original or mindblowing but decent and well performed also very accesible, at least to my ears. Also the vocal passages are ok most of the time with good lines typical for such music. Some good towards great pieces here like Old lady, Mirror Of Lies or ending Betrial doesn't save the band to be anonymus among prog listners. Well, to me 3 stars for sure. Nice art work

 Stand Up by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.51 | 51 ratings

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Stand Up
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars What followed the ''Quest'' album was an exhausting tour for Final Conflict, including dates both in the UK and Europe.During this period they managed also to be signed by Angular Records.The Gaolhouse Studios would again receive the talents of the band for the upcoming ''Stand up'' album.Dealing with social issues, this output was eventually released in 1997.

The 5-year period between the previous and the present album and the mass of live performances seem to have affected positively the 92'-established line-up with Final Conflict appearing here more tight and consistent with directed songwriting, inspired melodies and endless energy.Lying somewhere between PALLAS and JADIS, they deliver a dynamic and powerful Neo Prog with straight rockin' grooves, deep and atmospheric synthesizers and a great ability to switch between sharp passages and more elaborate textures.The new tracks are quite long, having a style which is based on groovy lines, lyrical expansions, decent guitar work and soaring synthesizers with the pompous but rather weak moments of the previous release being quite limited in the sake of a more atmospheric songwriting.Of course there are a few AOR flavors still present, reminding TRISTAN PARK or 2HOT4U, but the overall result is impressive with balanced instrumentation, memorable material and a crystalline production all the way.The 15-min. epic closer ''Stop'' is among the nice tracks produced by a Neo Prog band during the 90's: Emphatic music with great MARILLION-esque guitar work, muddy symphonic keyboards in the background, plenty of lyrical and tempo twists and a fantastic PINK FLOYD-ian outro with a spacey atmosphere, created by the floating organ and the melancholic guitar solos.

A great third effort by Final Conflict with the band apparently being back on track on producing well-composed and highly energetic music.Recommemded.

 Return of the Artisan by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.02 | 116 ratings

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Return of the Artisan
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

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

 Return of the Artisan by FINAL CONFLICT album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.02 | 116 ratings

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Return of the Artisan
Final Conflict Neo-Prog

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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