Conflict of Hatred

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Anyone who thought Warfare's utter demolition of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" (a project so foul and base that lawyers quickly quashed its release) had signified the nadir of the band's not unimpressive tactics to shock, confuse, and amaze -- all at the same time -- may have had second thoughts once faced with 1988's truly oddball A Conflict of Hatred album. Packed with countless celebrity guests (most of them now long-forgotten), the trio's fourth album was also the first to display a concerted effort to evolve, but at what price? For starters, "Dancing in the Flames of Insanity," "Deathcharge (Doomsday)," and "Rejoice the Feast of Quarantine" stretched their inscrutable lyrics (including bizarre recitals) and increasingly complex arrangements to heretofore unheard-of five- and six-minute lengths. But arguably the biggest surprises were saved for the likes of "Order of the Dragons" and the seemingly chapter-closing "Noise, Filth and Fury Requiem," where ample keyboard use and haunting female backup singers come as a baffling proposition. Amazingly, A Conflict of Hatred became the band's biggest hit yet, going on to become Neat Records' biggest seller ever to boot, by some accounts. A remarkable feat to be sure (even considering Neat's rather pathetic sales record), this couldn't forestall the album's severe dating as a decidedly flawed and now forgotten example of '80s progressive metal.