1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Final Conflict is an internationally acclaimed Progressive Rock band based in Stoke-On-Trent, in the heart of The Potteries. Formed in 1985 by founder members Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin, F.C has established their own distinctive style of music and has been recognized for this worldwide. The band’s line up of experienced musicians features the dual guitar and vocals of Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin, the magical keyboard skills of Steve Lipiec, and the two newest recruits to the band – Barry Elwood on his six string bass guitar and the very talented Henry Rogers on drums & percussion. F.C now feels that they are able to boast the youngest rhythm section on the Progressive Rock scene at the moment!” (Finalconflict,myspace.com, 2009).
“The band’s debut album was Channel 8 released in 1987, closely followed by “The Time Has Arrived” in 1989. These were released on the band’s own Future Records label. They then signed to GAIA records label and released “Redress The Balance” in 1991, followed by the concept album “Quest” in 1992.The band then signed to Angular records in Germany and in October 1997 the next album “Stand Up” was released.” (Finalconflict,myspace.com, 2009).
“F.C’s 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 Henry Rogers was second best drummer. In 2008, at the same awards, they were presented with the MD’s award by Steve Hackett of Genesis. February 23rd 2009 will see the release of F.C’s first live DVD and CD. They are grateful to Metal Minds Productions for providing them with the opportunity to do this. The DVD & CD are entitled “Another Moment in Time” (Finalconflict,myspace.com, 2009).
“The band is currently back in Gaolhouse studios writing their next album entitled “Return of The Artisan” and hope to release this in autumn 2009.” (Finalconflict,myspace.com, 2009).
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
As with any live album, the mission is to try to capture on film, the excitement of a live performance. Bring this live performance to your fans as a keepsake and memory, especially for those that live on other continents around the world who may never get a chance to see the band live. You want to give the fans the kind of experience that will motivate them to want to come and see a show. It should be special and provide as much power as you can muster.
Since it’s their first live DVD it needed to be special.. The DVD package also includes interviews, a discography, biography, photo gallery, desktop images, and web links.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
1. Solitude – Great heartbeat opening and cool keyboard effects. Great pan of the theater and use of the stage to create an effect! Dual vocalists open the set. “Deliver us to this glorious solitude.” Great band interaction and a fantastic start to this performance. Good song with loads of instrumentation and effects which really set up the fans for what is coming next.
2. Stand up – Fantastic guitar riff intro, followed by powerful drums. Great interaction between both lead vocalists/guitarists and the rest of the band, throughout this DVD. You can feel the appreciative attitude and excitement of finally being able to put together a live DVD for their fans. The feeling is wonderful, and they have allot of energy and excitement in the performance they are providing. Good song, but the best is yet to come.
3. The Following – Incredible guitar solos and soaring riffs reminiscent of the many bands that play in the Neo – Prog genre! The band really uses the stage and the camera crew is doing a good job of capturing this initial DVD performance.
4. Miss D’Meanour – Brian Donkin really knows how to inspire an audience. Henry Rogers does not miss a beat. Perfectly in time with the rhythm of the song. The light show adds so many dimensions to the performance. Great shots of the theater and stage during some incredible guitar work. The power of two lead guitars really adds to the sound, making it fuller. One of the highlights of the show!
5. Stop – Andy Lawton takes over lead vocals to give new perspective and provide different vocal range. Cool. Great lyrics delivered with power. Giving each lead guitar/vocalist a chance to trade guitar solos, wonderful. Both very talented. The song is a commentary on English society, and the lost respect from modern youth. Nice echo effect on vocals. “In the afternoon of life, all we want is peace, all we want is to walk without fear.” Don’t we all? Sound clips from the news, then a change of vocalist, with Donkin delivering some stunning lines. He is definitely the more theatric of the two vocalists. One of the most dramatic songs of the set. They really get into this one. Great song full of lots of time changes, powerful lyrics, guitar licks and keyboard galore. Lawton takes over vocals near the end and delivers the line, “Stop the rot.” Then they sing in unison. Then full stop. Very cool effect.
This is a massive epic, full of power and grace. Simply stunning guitar work! Best response from the crowd so far. Highlight of the show.
6.. Rebellion – “We’re gonna live it up a bit”, says Donkin. They just did that with the last one. Powerful guitar, keys and drums open this Arena sounding track with Donkin on lead vocals.. Drummer and lead vocalist are really enjoying their time on stage. Light show well coordinated with the power of the song. Great close – ups on a band that is definitely having allot of fun. Three guitarists jump to the front of the stage for some overwhelming guitar work. You can see the effort in the faces of the performers giving it all they have, just incredible. Good song about growing up.
7. Can’t Buy Experience - Drum solo transition between this and the last song is just incredible. Henry Rogers does not miss a beat. The band stays on stage to support, with Elwood’s bass lines filling in, then back to the launching lead guitar duo! Very cool keyboards. The drumming and clapping really help drive and motivate the audience into participation. Great keyboard to bridge between the drum solo and the rest of the song. “Now’s the time has come to watch our Ps and Qs, and smile at naughty children, while their parents feel abused.” “Seeing is believing, when you can’t buy experience.” “Listen to your parents take note of what they might say.” Great lyrics.. Wish kids would only listen.
8. All Alone – Great presence on stage. Soaring guitars. Lyrics deal with the loss of parents or those people closest to us. Lawton starts off the vocal, “Always so easy.” “Always secure.” “They were there waiting behind every door.” Then Donkin fills in support and delivers a Fish/Gabriel – like vocal interlude which brings back memories. They definitely use the full capacity of the band. Definitely one of their strengths. Great pans of the theater adding dramatic effect to the searing guitar solos. Well filmed. Grinding and soaring guitars bouncing off each other. Another cool effect. Double lead guitar ending with great lightshow really adds to the finale.
9. The Janus – First encore song. A story within a song. Supertramp kinda dialog from Donkin adding to the feeling of the song as the Janus. Donkin actually tries to perform as a character and it adds momentum to the song. Soaring guitars sharing center stage between these two talented singer/guitarists.
10. Waiting for a Chance – So much energy on stage. Would like to see these guys live. They really fired up this crowd with this song. Lyrics are strong here. Going back in time wanting to capture the past. But it’s best to make the most of today, so that you don’t have to look back in regret. They have done that both musically and visually.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
Not really, since it is a live performance of previously released material. Since it is their first live DVD it sets the bar for DVDs they may produce in the future.
The music is classic Neo Prog, whether they like the label or not. Although it is similar, they add to the genre with their ability to integrate two powerful guitarists and lead vocalists, which most of the other bands in the genre handle with only one of each. They definitely belong near the top of the Neo - Prog genre and are now a band that I will follow in the future, especially after listening to the interviews on this DVD and hearing of the influence of the new younger members of the band.. They hopefully will add to the power and brilliance of the founding members. I am currently investigating their past work and will definitely be interested in the new album when it comes out.
Brian Donkin mentions during the DVD performance, that there are other bands coming up the night of their show. Metal Mind had Credo and Pendragon on hand to do their DVD shows the same night. The crowd seems burned out from too much Neo Prog in one night.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely. This will be the first DVD I will pull out when I want to see some good Neo Prog performed with incredible energy. Complete package. All of the band members contribute to make this a wonderful first DVD.
Rating: 8/10. Very good video with lots of action and band camaraderie. The music is traditional Neo Prog, but delivered in a way that makes you feel like you are part of the show.
Reviewed by Prof on July 24th, 2009