Saturday, August 20, 2016

Flotsam And Jetsam - S/T (2016)

My knowledge of the American thrash metal band Flotsam And Jetsam is... okay (at best). Formed in 1983 in Phoenix, the band had some initial success with their first two records "Doomsday For The Deceiver" and "No Place For Disgrace", the later being what many consider to be a milestone, not only for the band, but for thrash metal in general (which is why the band re-recorded it in 2014). After that? Well, the founding bassist Jason Newsted left to become a member of Metallica, otherwise nothing else has been too memorable of the band's career, or that is at least how I have seen it.

As stated before, my experience with the band is not that great, so I really did not know what to expect when I finally got around to listen to their 12th studio effort which was self titled. It has gotten some good praise since its release, but was still a bit skeptical. Their last two albums, 2010's "The Cold" and 2012's "Ugly Noise", were mediocre to say the least. Far from thrashy and overall not very interesting or innovative.

But 4 years has since past, and the band certainly feels refreshed, ready to take the metal world by storm again. Because when you release a self titled album, it usually means one of two things. 1. You are releasing your first album, or 2. you are marking the beginning of a new era for the band. "Flotsam And Jetsam" certainly puts a big red stamp on your forehead that the sluggish ways of the past are over, and that the band is ready to kick ass again, once again. The production in itself feels refreshed, modern, and helps lift the music just the right way. It is fairly clean, which usually hurts thrash albums, but for some reason, this has the opposite effect on this record.

The music itself is, to be honest, not the most exciting. It is really good, a lot better than I expected it to be, but there is something with the music of Flotsam And Jetsam that misses that last knockout punch, a nitro button to kick it into overdrive. It could be the main reason to why the band had fallen behind a lot of other thrash bands in the pecking order, but it does give them a sound personality that is unique. Still, I am having a hard time figuring out how to turn this sound into something that is out of this world.

But what "Flotsam And Jetsam" lacks in punching power, it makes up for it with great consistency and well crafted songs. Guitarists Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley spits out several groovy riffs through out the record, bassist Michael Spencer gives the songs more depths, and singer Erik Knutson just delivers time and time again with his powerful vocals. The band's chemistry with one another is top notch, and it seems like they have not had this much fun in a very long time. And that is even more evidence in the song material, especially songs like "Seventh Seal", "Iron Maiden", "Life Is A Mess", and "Monkey Wrench" (no, that is not a cover of the Foo Fighters song with the same name) where the enthusiasm is just over flowing.

"Flotsam And Jetsam" marks a new fresh start for Flotsam And Jetsam, a chance to re-discover what made them get into this in the first place. This album is a great thrash piece that rocks you to the core, displaying some great craftsmanship and passionate playing that the band has not shown in some time. It may not be the strongest, the most thrilling, or for that matter, the best kind of thrash metal that the band is playing, but it is still really good metal that we are getting here. Definitely one of the more positive surprises of this year.

Songs worthy of recognition: Iron Maiden, Seventh Seal, Life Is A Mess, Monkey Wrench

Rating: 8/10 Tasers

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