I was possibly too excited to hear that Flotsam and Jetsam were releasing new material and staggered to realise that in 2016 there was another album. This was a real treat and a great excuse to revisit my teenage thrash years and catch up on a number of works I was oblivious to! Still featuring the incredible voice and vocal range of Eric “A.K.” Knutson backed with the tenacity and skill of original guitarist Michael Gilbert I have high hopes for this, despite my ignorance of them since the 90’s. Noting that Ken Mary has joined on drums, my anticipation increased (if you’ve not heard 2018’s Fifth Angel release, The Third Secret its almost worth listening to for the drums alone.)
Talked about amongst friends as the only band to score top marks in a formerly metal magazine, Doomsday for the Deceiver rocked many a world. Some more so than others, with young Jason Newsted who was also a main songwriter as well as a jaw-dropping bassist leaving shortly after its release to the Metallica monster. For many that would have heralded decimation, but these melodic thrash metallers persevered and although a few fans may have accidentally dropped off along the way, their ferocity skill and songwriting is as strong as ever as is the voice of Eric “A.K.” Knutson. A little lower, but the maturity and power in his voice is staggering. This is unmistakably Flotsam and Jetsam and it’s magnificent.
Prisoner Of Time storms out of the gate with a bombastic rhythm section which immediately grips your attention. Melodic, fierce and uproariously impassioned Live your life without regret, don’t be a prisoner of time. The bass playing is on another level, it’s high octane, inspired and pummelling. The dual guitars ensnare with mastery akin to Thin Lizzy or Judas Priest, but unfortunately I can think only of Iron Maiden. Which is no bad thing, I like them a lot – it’s the hook in the voice of AK in the white hot delivery of the words ‘Prisoner of time’. It’s an inspired opening track, it’s fantastic. It’s fast, heavy and total earworm. I love the Maidenesque nod. I wish it didn’t rattle me so much on my initial listen. I’ll get over it, I do over-dwell on the silliest of things.
Control demonstrates the control and mastery that each holds over their instrument and voice in a speed metal behemoth of a track. Blistering arpeggios, cannot overshadow the incredible power of the rhythm section. But this is musical, these are songs to be embraced not demonstration guitar wankery pieces. Recover slows the tempo slightly. Indeed, I may never recover from this! Prepare For Chaos is far from chaotic, this is wonderfully orchestrated precision as I prepare to die! Slowly Insane is anything but slow, this is a darker frenetic track and the panning is fantastically disconcerting. Architects Of Hate is a fantastic slab of authentically 80’s styled thrash. Try not to smile as I drink the blood of everyman reverberates in your skull. Demolition Man is a frenzied blast with NWOBHM elements while Unwelcome Surprise brings back the speedy feels after an incredible starting groove. I don’t think that I alone think this could be a very welcome surprise! Snake Eye smashes you relentlessly, Survive slows the pace, very slightly. The rhythm section throughout is magical and I very much hope that this lineup does indeed survive.
Good Or Bad starts with some quality shredding in a vein that reminds me of a frantic version of Gong‘s Glorious Om Riff which first appeared on You‘s Master Builder and has fuelled and inspired countless psychedelic, progressive and doom tracks. But nothing quite like this before. This is inspired! The End closes the work magnificently, I can see the end is taking over and it always brings me down. Thankfully, this is an upbeat ending and is just the beginning for my rediscovered joy for this outstanding band.
Perhaps this album needs a little more breathing space, it is a relentless barrage of high class metal. It’s literally all killer no filler which can be exhausting! Listening repeatedly to the album, there is for me no stand out tracks. They all are. Thank you Flotsam and Jetsam!
Flotz ’Til Death. Long live the Flotz! 9 out of 10.
01 – Prisoner Of Time
02 – Control
03 – Recover
04 – Prepare For Chaos
05 – Slowly Insane
06 – Architects Of Hate
07 – Demolition Man
08 – Unwelcome Surprise
09 – Snake Eye
10 – Survive
11 – Good Or Bad
12 – The End
Flotsam And Jetsam release their blistering new album ‘The End Of Chaos‘ on 18th January and it can be purchased here
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