Frank checks out the new album from the legendary Flots… here’s what he thinks
I am sure most readers have heard of Flotsam and Jetsam. The band from Phoenix Arizona burst onto the metal scene in 1986 with arguably the best thrash metal debut ever with Doomsday for the Deceiver.
Six more releases followed in the intervening years bringing a mixed bag giving you the feeling of a band trying to find an identity. The first decade of the 2000’s saw the inevitable fall off the radar with only two records.
2010 saw a re-emergence of the band following a different path and honing a sound that really came together on 2016’s self-titled offering and the follow-up “End of Chaos” from 2019. Following the two aforementioned records would be a daunting task for anyone.
Only two years on the band are back with Blood In The Water, an album that on first listen you could be fooled into thinking is just a carbon copy of the previous two releases. But you would be wrong. Blood in the Water just hits you full-on with a sound that can only be described as immense. The first thing you notice is the impressive production and mixing overseen by Grammy nominated master knob-twiddler Jacob Hanson, who has managed to give each musician an equal footing. Each transition from verse to bridge to the chorus is almost seamless. With the dual guitar attack of Steve Conley and band ever-present Michael GIlbert it is reminiscent of early Iron Maiden coming at you relentlessly from one speaker to the other.
Opening up with the title track to the record, this modern take on thrash metal is noticeable from minute one, fast and powerful but with controlled aggression, perhaps the song that resembles the previous offerings the most. With such an impressive start you wonder if the momentum can keep going? And believe me, you will not be disappointed.
The heavy and fast-delivered riffs keep coming at a pace with “Burn The Sky” and track three “Brace for Impact” which is a ready-made mosh pit anthem transitioning between a frenetic guitar attack with slower moments where you can draw a breath waiting for the next onslaught.
“A Place To Die” is next up, perhaps the heaviest track on the album, relying on the dark brooding guitars fighting each other rather than all-out speed which takes us to “The Walls” a much slower paced almost traditional heavy metal track that works well adding a different perspective on the record without being out of place.
Next up is “Cry for the Dead ” with its melodic start and atmospheric feel throughout with an almost European power metal feel. It lets Eric A.K. show off his vocal range as the song changes direction as it progresses, it’s a song that conveys the mature nature of the band more than any other on the record
Then it’s straight back to the thrash on “Too Many Lives” the track more than any other that showcases the drumming of Ken Mary, the Fifth Angel drummer who is on double band duties, on his second outing with Flotsam after debuting on “End of Chaos”. Eric A.K. is almost Halford-esque at times in his vocal delivery. With “Grey Dragon” the relentless thrash juggernaut just gains momentum, and It’s a track that would grace any of the new wave bands releases and matches them for speed and aggression then it’s on to “Regression” just as fast and ferocious without being the same. It’s a theme I love with this record, each track stands out on its own. Things slow down a bit with track number eleven “Undone” which has a granite-hard riff that leaves me thinking of a John Bush era Anthrax number, its catchy and groove laden, which is more radio-friendly than the rest of the album. Last up is “7-Seconds” another power metal sounding track, I’m almost singing “Dr. Stein” in my head at certain points.
Overall this is a brilliant record, in the few days I have been listening to it for this review it’s been nearly nonstop in my headphones. The worry with a band finding a winning formula is that it becomes stale a few records in. Being the third record on this cycle, they have clearly kept the same formula but tweaked it enough to still be fresh and relevant. Eric A.K. has never sounded so good. The guitar sound works brilliantly and the drumming is in the top bracket for modern metal, the lyrics are mature and the music is insane and very heavy.
Although I haven’t picked him out specifically on any track I have to mention the new recruit in bass player “Bill Bodily” for not only admirably pounding out an impressive bassline throughout but in places really showing off his melodic death technique that he has brought over from his previous band Contrarian.
The album cover artwork has once again taken care of by Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art and as usual, has excelled.
Currently, three singles have been released from the record which you can catch upon on Youtube
Michael Gilbert recently quoted
“ Its angry, its aggressive and our emotions pour out all over this album ”
I have to agree..
“Blood In The Water” is released on all formats through AFM record on June 4th