It’s been a long time coming but Flotsam and Jetsam finally look to have reasserted themselves among the top of the speed metal elite. After arriving on the scene with two undisputed classics back in the late ’80s, the Arizona thrashers fortunes dipped and for a while it seemed that they would only be remembered for those releases and supplying Metallica with bassist Jason Newsted.
Trying to cope in the post-thrash world of the nineties was a tough challenge and not one to which they were always able to rise. However, giving up was never an option and although having paused for a while in the early ’00s, the band have been slowly gathering in strength with each subsequent release until re-unleashing their full potential on 2019’s mighty The End of Chaos (AFM Records).
Arguably their finest release since 1988’s No Place for Disgrace (Elektra), following up such an outstanding return to form was always going to be a difficult task, but with Blood in the Water (AFM) the veteran five-piece have achieved it with room to spare. Any fear of a lack of consistency is immediately blown away by the opening track, a total fucking riff explosion armed with massive guitar melodies and a memorable chorus. The venomous staccato riffing of ‘Burn The Sky’ follows, backed by the cautionary ‘Brace For Impact’ – advice which your neck will do well to follow.
‘A Place To Die’ comes at you with a thunderous gallop, Eric AK Knutson‘s vocal delivery powerful and impassioned before ‘The Walls’ crushes all before it like a thrash metal Queensryche. It’s power ballad time with the darkly aggressive ‘Cry For the Dead’ while ‘The Wicked Hour’ is an uptempo cobweb clearer with another beast of a chorus.
‘Too Many Lives’ is firm and chunky with insistent vocals, ‘Grey Dragon’ is pure speed fury, and the pulsating fury of ‘Reaggression’ does exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Undone’ is another fast track but with a lighter, more traditional metal vibe, the album-closing with the earworm-infested ‘Seven Seconds ‘Til The End Of The World’.
The twin guitars of Steve Conley and original member Michael Gilbert continue to complement each other perfectly, solos and melodies intertwining and spiralling one moment before coming together in a focused, double-barrelled attack the next. New bass player Bill Bodily shines alongside drummer Ken M Mary but as ever it’s AK’s vocals that steals the show, the fifty-six-year-old singer still sounding every bit as electric as he did back in the day. Riffs, hooks, showmanship, and attitude, Blood in the Water has all of them and then some.
Buy the album here: https://shop.afm-records.de/flotsam-and-jetsam/
9 / 10