On August 26, 1988 at 16 years old I had the privilege to see King Diamond on the “Them” tour, to this day, still my favorite King album. It was myself and a friend of mine, who has since moved on to another realm that bummed a ride from my neighbor’s mom to see the show. On the way to the show, my beloved friend Stretch pulls out a dubbed tape of “Doomsday for the Deceiver.” My neighbor’s mom had hearing issues which let us crank the shit out of that bitch. Prior to this listening session on our way to City Limits in Penn Hills, PA, all I knew about the band was that Metallica’s Cliff Burton replacement had come from the band. Trying to familiarize myself with some of the songs as Flotsam and Jetsam were the opening band that evening, I quickly grew to enjoy their brand of Arizona thrash. Similar in some ways to Sacred Reich, but in many ways, much more advanced.
So… Here we sit, its 2016… MTV or something else killed the rock star. ”Viners” and “You Tubers” are all the rage selling hundreds of tickets at small city venues, similar to the aforementioned City Limits. Yes, the music industry has changed greatly, but recently, a second wave of new thrash has reared its head with some great new bands as well as some veterans still holding the torch of Thrash glory. Enter Flotsam and Jetsam.
Let me just start off by saying, if you enjoy Classic or Modern Thrash with a touch of Power Metal, then this CD is for you. To break that down a little bit for you, if you like vocals with range and harmonies, shredding riffs and guitar solos, active bass sound and thundering drums full of double bass, snare attacks and roto-tom galore, then this release is the answer to your prayers. A Sublime mix of all that is thrash and more dominates this 55+ minute release. This is the gift of growing older and being around since the inception of Thrash Metal: A classic style meets modern production, and it is glorious.
The release opens with Seventh Seal which provides that Power Metal meets Thrash that I mentioned earlier. Double bass vs. blast beat on the skins. Vocals are middle octave, but some higher octaves make their presence felt as well. Lyrically, the song is biblically oriented around the book of Revelations. As with most of the entire album, there is a great 2 guitar attack during the solo. A strong backbone rhythm cuts through nicely with a nice active bass sound. This description can be used to describe the majority of this release, but each song offers its own flavor and style of thrash.
L.O.T.D and Monkey Wrench have a little East Coast Thrash feel to them while Life is a Mess and Time to Go, have a west coast sound to them. Forbidden Territories is a great song to prep for a battle and even has a little old school cross over sound at times. In my opinion the most creative song on the release is Verge of Tragedy. While it does at times have a Queensryche feel to it, the lead guitars excel throughout this song, offering many layers during the verses which color the song nicely, while the rhythm section again provides a nice drive throughout the song.
Emotional lyrics are also front and center. Smoking Gun provides my favorite lyrical line on the release stating “Truth and loyalty, locked behind the door. Rather be a lying bitch than bound to be a whore.” You can feel the anger and heartache throughout the song. Iron Maiden is not a cover, but does bear some resemblance to the leaders of the Second Wave of British Heavy Metal with a Trooper-esque rhythm and higher octave vocals. This is not to insinuate that this is a Maiden rip off, as it is far from it. It is by far one of the best riffs on the cd. Let me say that it was a true pleasure to review this self-titled release from Flotsam and Jetsam. Being a thrash head from the beginning, I still get excited to hear something that has that classic feel with the modern production. That is not to say that Flotsam and Jetsam are stuck in the 80’s, as they have clearly evolved and could stand toe to toe with any thrash band today, bar none. The CD is as intricate and insightful as it is bone crushing and heavy. If you are into thrash, or metal in general, you money will be well spent here, providing you with many great listens of how heavy music is done.
- Seventh Seal
- Life is a Mess
- Iron Maiden
- Verge of Tragedy
- The Incarnation
- Monkey Wrench
- Time to Go
- Smoking gun
- Forbidden territories