Even in their dog days, which were long and difficult, American thrash veterans Flotsam and Jetsam came up with some interesting material, so you always know when you get given a new release from the band that it’s going to be worth a listen.
Flotsam and Jetsam is certainly no exception, featuring a dozen slabs of solidly committed thrash that sometimes veer into straight metal territory but always keeps the listener involved and invested. The Arizona natives aren’t undertaking the metal equivalent of stem cell research here – but they will bang some heads, that’s for sure. And that’s really all we want at the end of the day, no?
Like their thrash cousins Metal Church, Flotsam have largely – and sensibly – eschewed the temptation to heavy up their sound, leaving them sounding quite quaint by today’s mores – easy listening thrash if you will – but it has to be asked, why would you bother making a singer as able as Eric ‘AK’ Knutsen scream and growl? At his most intense he sounds like a not-mental Bobby Ellsworth, but his strong vocals fit the classy, streamlined thrash served up by the rest of the band to a tee so you won’t find me complaining.
Opening track Seventh Seal is a snorting opener, one of the best I’ve heard this band put their name to in a long, long time, and it really kicks things off with a bang. Iron Maiden is almost as good (it’s not a cover of Steve Harris’ theme tune, though it does feature a cheeky harmony guitar homage from Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley), whilst Creeper drops the pace and allows Knutson room to breathe. Newish drummer Jason Bittner – you’ll recognise him from such bands as Shadows Fall and, on occasion, Anthrax– puts in some sterling work behind the kit on the brilliant Monkey Wrench, although it’s on this song that, for the one and only time, you’ll feel slightly miffed that the band don’t really just break the shackles and go for broke.
Time to Go remembers the eighties with chunky, staccato riffs and swooping solos, whilst penultimate track Smoking Gun is another reminder of just how good Flotsam and Jetsam can be when they just concentrate on the business of snapping necks.
Flotsam and Jetsam is out now on AFM Records