On April 15 1995, I visited a concert of an unknown British prog band as opening act for Collage from Poland. The band members, calling themselves Final Conflict, mostly impressed me with the new song Stand Up. Since that day, I follow this band from Stoke-On-Trent with great interest. Their third album Stand Up, is one of the bandís highlights that contains fantastic keyboard solos by Steve Lipiec. The twin guitar parts performed by Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin sound very tastefully on this release. They both are responsible for the vocal parts as well. As far as the vocals are concerned, Barclay James Harvest could have been an inspiration for the band, but sometimes Final Conflict reminds me of Wishbone Ash, another fine band from England.
After that concert in 1995, I never saw Final Conflict again on a live stage in The Netherlands, but the bandís first DVD Another Moment In Time, Live In Poland, recorded in October 2008 in Katowice, is a good alternative for seeing them play again. When I got this DVD to review, I was very curious to find out how many songs from Stand Up they play live. Well, I counted three tracks: Stand Up, Stop and Miss DíMeanour. Itís just a pity that strong tracks like Wasteland, Signature In The Sand and the fine instrumental piece T230 are not on the set list. Andy and Brian explain in the interview that the band usually plays a two-hours long live set, thus they have to make a choice of the five albums they released so far. During the progressive rock festival held in Poland, there was little time left to rehearse. That is the reason why they had to skip some band and audience favourites, but there is still enough great progressive rock music left to enjoy. They eventually made a fine selection of the five albums.
Final Conflict also has a new rhythm section. Drummer Chris Moyden died suddenly in 2005 after a long struggle with cancer. The band chose the young musician Henry Rogers as a replacement for Chris. According to the Classic Rock Society, he was nominated second best drummer of 2007. Together with the other youngster Barry Elwood on bass guitar, who replaced Dave Bridgett, the future looks bright again for Final Conflict or FC as they called themselves on their fourth album Hindsight. The Polish interviewer asked Donkin and Lawton about the bandís past and the upcoming album Return Of The Artisan. The two newcomers got rather silly questions: do you like Polish girls and do you already have a date? Ridiculous questions, but thank God, the interviewer also asked some serious things about the band. Rogers and Elwood surely enjoy playing in Final Conflict, but they were a bit nervous before the recording of this DVD. Fortunately, everything went smoothly as we can witness several months later. The crew of Metal Mind filmed the concert in the best possible way with many close-ups of the individual musicians. The band still sounds fantastic after almost 25 years. I will give a big hand for all the musicians and crew involved in this project! ††
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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