Flotsam And Jetsam – Ugly Noise

Flotsam and Jetsam - Album Art - Ugly NoiseFlotsam And Jetsam are stalwarts in the thrash metal sub-genre, having formed under the direction of drummer Kelly David-Smith in the very early 1980’s. These Phoenix ‘bangers hardly need introduction. This was, at one point in time, a crowd-financed album, and the quality of the output seems to be a reflection from the crowd: a mix of optimism and apathy, creativity and regret. Ugly Noise seems to lack an inner fire of motivation – that striving to become greater seems to have somehow fallen by the wayside. Would a band, with 25-plus years of history and 10-plus studio albums under their belts, at the height of their powers, deliberately release an album which loses momentum and power through over half of the songs? Sure, if this is what the band truly believed in. At this point in their creative history, this is where Flotsam and Jetsam have arrived.

That said, the album does have some outstanding thrash metal moments. If you’re after a hearkening back to the classic F&J thrash-king days, check out the tracks ‘Carry On‘, ‘I Believe‘, and ‘To Be Free‘. The rhythm guitar is tight and crisp throughout. Song or idea sequencing seems to be as it was meant to be: the disc starts off punchy and ends fast, with a lot of laissez-faire filler rock in-between. Production is good: the album is very punchy. The arrangements and song-writing are quite adequate and tight. Songs have some nice melodic points or counterpoints, but overall it’s a typical dissonant metal type release. The album seems to have been built around singer “A.K”, and his vocal is the most audible and out-front of all the instruments. He seems to have a decent range and doesn’t abuse his voice with excess screaming, which is refreshing. Album art is dynamic: typical sepia-tone ominous metal genre work, a fine prelude. The photograph features a debris-ridden, degraded piano. Packaging appears to be very nice.

As other reviewers have said, this is not the band’s finest work. Ugly Noise brings back the classic Cuatro lineup, without the classic Cuatro panache. The band seems content to slowly fade away, rather then burn out. Gratuitous swearing, coupled with a severe loss of momentum or angry vibe, act against this disc. While it is not ‘Flotzilla’s’ best release, it’s hardly their worst. If you are a fan of Cuatro‘s style, you might enjoy Ugly Noise. Please don’t buy it thinking it’s a thrash album: it isn’t. It does have some heavy moments and some truly inspired sonic glimpses, but for the most part, it’s genre-defying hard rock with hints at thrash metal, industrial, gothic, operatic power metal, and pop.

As an aside, I don’t normally spend the time penning negative or equivocal reviews. Music is art, and all art is cathartic and good on some level. Beauty will be in the ear of the beholder here, as there is no accounting for an individual’s tastes.

FnJ - Ugly Noise Band Photo

Track Listing with Runtimes:

Ugly Noise – 4:10
GittyUp – 3:09
Run and Hide – 5:28
Carry On – 4:19
Rabbit’s Foot – 4:17
Play Your Part – 5:29
Rage – 3:25
Cross the Sky – 4:45
Motherfuckery – 3:07
I Believe – 2:53
To Be Free – 3:08
Machine Gun – 3:17

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About Iris North

My formal position is: editor and music reviewer. I joined the PlanetMosh army in 2012. I enjoy extreme metal, 'shred' guitar, hard rock, prog rock, punk, and... silly pop music!