Greatest albums of all time: CONFLICT – “The Ungovernable Force” (1986)

When people ask me what my favorite punk/ hardcore album of all time is, I can’t answer honestly- there are several that are tied. However when pressed, I usually say this album- CONFLICT’s masterpiece The Ungovernable Force.

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It starts off with a crude noise collage called “You Cannot Win” that goes into the intro from their album Increase the Pressure (the whole album has nods to CONFLICT’s past, as well as a punk history lesson in the lyrics), then some piercing feedback.   The next bunch of songs are all connected to each other, almost a punk and hardcore medley that starts off with two incredibly ripping tracks (with a  savage bass line) that sound like one song, then a marching nod to C.R.A.S.S. (which a lot of the members of CONFLICT were also in).
“Custom Rock” comments on radio-friendly bands who join corporate labels to get famous, and the music kind of apes U2, but is 100% CONFLICT.  Then they go into another march that brings us up to date on the state of things (at the time).  All of these songs have their own feel and flavor but flow into each other seamlessly.  Another savage commentary on popular music comes next- this one about bonehead metal bands and tough-guy hardcore bands (the music is suitably matallic as well).  The last song on side A is a brutal and pissed diatribe about standing up for what’s right and fighting the powers that be when they are oppressive.  Lyrics like “Riot- there ain’t been a riot but ones knocking at your door; you’ve seen nothing yet but household pets, you’ll feel the lion’s claws!” are pretty call-to-action provocative.  This song is accompanied by samples from a big riot that happened in London.

Side B starts off with an older CONFLICT (from their first album It’s Time To See Who’s Who era) soundung track which quickly morphs into the catchy and humorous “Force Or Service?”.  These tracks are more catchy and punky, but then comes “The Arrest”, which is back to a faster hardcore track that tells what you should do if you get arrested (“Whatever you go through in a police cell is nothing compared to the suffering inflicted by governments; the state destroys tortures and murders, we must stop them using force if necessary- remember that and good luck!”).  This is followed by a mellower instrumental (that even sound a little Metallica-esque at tomes) then another savage and awesome song about a nuclear strike.  This is the climax of the album.
The last 2 songs are “This Is the A.L.F.”-  a very well put together song with a lot of interesting changes about animal liberation and the final song is a very quiet and poetic one with just a piano and a female singer.

This album is put together so well, the way all the songs flow into each other and build to a climax- the dynamics and riveting patterns of the songs, and the way they all have so much going on in them- the multi-instrumentation, the 3 vocalists, plus the samples and noises.  The only complaint that I would have is that most of the songs don’t stand up as well on their own (tho some do), because they are fragments of an overall piece.  But make no mistake- this is an excellent and ambitious album well put together by talented musicians with a lot of spirit, fire, conviction  and personality.  Find it…

The album sounds better if you lsiten to it as a whole, but this song stands well on it’s own and is a good example of the album’s excellence:

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