Final Conflict - Ashes to Ashes [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Final Conflict

Ashes to Ashes [reissue] (2005)


Most people look upon bands like Converge and Integrity for spawning what we would eventually come to know as metalcore. And in many rights, that's true. Those two bands took the mix of metal and hardcore to places never before envisioned. At the same time, however, it's important to see that even those to bands were preceded by several in the `80s that primitively put those two genres together in their very own way.

Though lesser known than their peers in Discharge, Final Conflict is one such band, and their combination of political diatribes with an infectious punk rock spirit is a formidable one.

While not exactly a ‘metalcore' band by current description, there is no denying of their integration of metal riffs and tempos into their hardcore punk attack. It may not seem that striking at first, but a close listen will reveal many instances throughout the course of the record that a traditional punk tempo is thrown into a whirlwind of quick riffing and pounding drum fills. "What Kind of Future" begins awash in waves of distortion, as did a lot of hardcore punk from the `80s, but it is soon apparent that Final Conflict mean business as the riffs turn from relatively tame to an all out onslaught of speed and frenzied vocals. Speed isn't the entire name of the game though, as they're able to match the tempo of that track with slower efforts like "Shattered Mirror" and have it take nothing off the intensity.

As great as the music itself is, a lot of what I like about the record centers around the social and political nature of its lyrics. It's something really not seen as much with hardcore this decade, but in the `80s, most bands of this ilk had some sort of message to get across. Naturally some were more intelligent and well-conveyed than others, but the bottom line of it is that they tried. Final Conflict were one of those bands that had a natural way with words. "How long must we stay silent? And watch our future be taken away from us / Powers haven't begun to realize how deadly / The weapons are that they possess. I'm tired of living in fear of a nuclear confrontation." Those words echo the sentiments of many that lived through the tense years of the cold war, and are effectively driven home by the conviction of the band. Many other such instances of intelligence and speaking out are present on the record, giving that much more gravity to what music's being played.

In addition to the original recording, SOS Records have been kind enough to include eight bonus tracks on this reissue, including covers of the Damned and U.K. Subs.

Listening to today's metalcore, it may be tough to realize the genre ever had a purpose, but I'm glad recordings like this are being reissued to show that a time existed where being in a band meant more than having a platform in which to put your junior high journal to power chords.