In May 2009 the British band Final Conflict released Another Moment In Time (see review), their first DVD/CD recorded in Poland. From this DVD one could enjoy three tracks from the album Stand Up, originally released in 1997 on the German label Angular Records. This third full-length album can be regarded as their best record to date. In a very short period of time the album was sold out and became a highly desired item on websites as eBay. I always felt lucky to have a copy of Stand Up because Final Conflict managed to create some special songs on this fine album. The two lead guitars and the vocal talents of Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin combined with the magical keyboard sounds of Steve Lipiec are a real treat for my ears.
I guess someone in Poland realized that this amazing album had been away from the spotlights much too long and decided to release it again after thirteen years. In the meantime Final Conflict had some line-up changes and recruited two new band members, namely Barry Elwood (bass) and Henry Rogers (drums). Both musicians can be heard on the two bonus tracks Losing It All, a brand-new previously unreleased track, and Moment In Time, a track from Hindsight -2003 re-recorded in 2010, which doesn't differ that much from the original version. Losing It All can be labeled as a ballad on which I noticed some Pink Floyd-influences. Maybe that was the reason why a saxophone or a sample of this instrument was used to give the song something extra.
The album opens strongly with the title track, one of their classics. It's a superb track starting with a synthesizer sequence that builds up to a climax. When the other instruments and vocals join in the song gets even stronger. The guitar riffs sound aggressive, but fit perfectly to the song. The string synthesizer provides for the touch of prog rock that all prog heads like to hear and an excellent guitar solo gives a great ending to the song. Second track Signature In The Sand is also very good with strong female backing vocals by Kristi Bonfield. Especially the excellent synthesizer and guitar duels are the highlights on this piece. You can enjoy another strong duel between guitars and synthesizer on T230. When I heard this piece for the first time I almost went mad. The amazing solos keep going on and on as if they will never stop, but they did in the end and left me speechless. Wasteland is undoubtedly another classic tune. The song can be regarded as a blend of U2 guitar parts and early Marillion keyboards. Again the synthesizer has a leading role with an excellent solo; the strong vocals reminded me of Barclay James Harvest. Influences of BJH are also present on Days Gone By. On this one you can also hear the excellent twin guitar parts reminiscent of Wishbone Ash. The U2-influences return on Miss D Meanour. However, the sound of the floating string synthesizers provide for a strong progressive rock sound. Together with the fine guitar and synthesizer solos this song is really outstanding. Omen is a short instrumental track in which no drums are involved. The atmospheric keyboard parts create a perfect setting for performing some fine guitar parts.
The final epic piece Stop is a perfect ending of an excellent album. In this piece everything falls in place. In a way this track contains the same elements as the opening piece, the same kind of metallic sounding synthesizer sequences. However, Stop has been much more influenced by Marillion's early albums. The outstanding guitar and synthesizer solos make you realize that the band consists of great musicians. After listening to the album a number of times I realized that Final Conflict released a true masterpiece in 1997. The compositions and the music are just breathtaking and of a high quality level. No weak tracks or weak spots whatsoever and therefore only the highest rating of five stars will do. People who want a copy of this new digipack edition should hurry before it's sold out again since only two thousand copies have been printed. Especially for neo-prog heads Stand Up is a must have. Highly recommended!
***** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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