On the 20th May, Flotsam and Jetsam released their album entitled Flotsam and Jetsam. This album marks the band’s 12th album release since their formation in 1981.
As a band, Flotsam and Jetsam are intermittent in the way they hold my interest, my two favourite albums by them being No Place For Disgrace and Ugly Noise. Flotsam and Jetsam is a release that brings with it the same excitement that these two albums did – following the same Flotsam and Jetsam noise that I love. This album is the first to be recorded since re-hiring Michael Spencer on bass guitar, and the hire of guitarist Steve Conley and drummer Jason Bittner. Like the arrival of Ugly Noise, Flotsam and Jetsam manages to keep the ugly brute force tones that the band mastered in their early days and somehow lost until their turning-point album Ugly Noise in 2012.
Seventh Seal opens this 12-track album, with a climactic intro flowing into the familiar sound of ‘the good’ole Flotsam and Jetsam’. With a catchy chorus, this opening track is the perfect introduction to a killer album. Life Is A Mess ditches the climactic introduction in favour of jumping straight into the action. This song has the perfect combination of riffs and groove inciting skankers to skank, dancers to dance and moshers to mosh. Flowing ever-so-gently into the 3rd track – Taser – this song carries the same electric energy that you would expect of a song with this title. Iron Maiden marks the 4th track on this album with vocals interestingly sounding very similar to a Mr. Bruce Dickinson. With a symphony of guitars in the introduction sounding very similar to the NWOBHM masters, I imagine that it comes as no coincidence that this song is titled Iron Maiden. This song strikes me as an instant classic – a little different to the usual Flotsam and Jetsam offerings, this refreshing style could just be the boost that the band need to reach out to a wider audience range. This song is probably my favourite in the album, even if it hasn’t got the usual thrashy tendencies that Flotsam and Jetsam are so good at. Verge of Tragedy doesn’t particularly flow from the previous song, opting for the lower harmonies and chuggier riffs. This track goes off on a slower tangent than the songs before, finishing on a high note before the drum rolls of Creeper edge their way into the album. This track follows a minimalist theme, with each instrument entering in stages, building the track over several bars until the song is shaped. Like Iron Maiden, this track is aptly named when you think of the imagery of the instruments ‘creeping’ into the song. L.O.T.D failed to grasp my attention at the beginning of the song. It was only when the gang vocals came into play that I felt I could actually enjoy the energy of the song, before it settled into a more comfortable groove. Although lyrically brilliant, this song feels like the weakest of the album, before it has its fake finish 2/3rds of the way into the track. After this turning point however, it feels as though the song has a re-vamped energy and settles into the thrash that Flotsam and Jetsam have demonstrated they can do so well. The Incantation is another song that starts slow, with clean guitar providing a gentle melody under slow, distorted wails. If there is one thing that Flotsam and Jetsam are spectacularly good at, it’s naming their tracks. The Incantation has such a burning atmosphere that it would seem silly to call it anything other than the name it had been given. Monkey Wrench is a song that strikes me as another unsung classic, with both a catchy chorus and brilliant thrashy undertones – this may just be my up there in my favourite Flotsam and Jetsam tracks. Time To Go again, is perfectly named. With a hurried feel with the vocals and wailing guitar solos, there is a sense of urgency brought to the table with this track. Smoking Gun, the penultimate track on the album, to me is nothing particularly special – especially when compared to other tracks featured on this album. Forbidden Territories marks the end of this turbulent album; after a slow, rising climax at the beginning, this song seemingly fails to erupt into the explosive fanfare that Flotsam and Jetsam fans know and love. However, there is a beautiful turning point in the last third of the song for those patient enough to stay with it, breaking down into a slow chug before erupting into the brilliant, thrashy solos that I was hoping for – albeit a little later than I had expected.
All in all, a very good offering from Flotsam and Jetsam, with a couple of ‘wobbly bits’ that I wasn’t too sure of. That said, every time I thought I didn’t like something, they turned it around before I could make my mind up, and stuck something great into the pits that they had created – before they were a massive problem.