Phew. I coined the term ‘easy listening thrash’ for Flotsam and Jetsam’s eponymous album that came out in 2016; It wasn’t meant as a slight, you understand, merely as a note that the sleek, well-executed and superbly envisioned album was a pleasure for the ol’ lugs to encounter. Da Flotz still got some bite – let me make that clear from the get-go.
In fact, where there was merely highly-skilled musicianship and killer tunes on that last record, on new album The End of Chaos there’s a real sense of danger. The band sound hungry and, more importantly, vicious on this album, especially admirable lead throat Eric A.K. . On superb tracks like Demolition Man, which oozes class thanks to some slick interplay from axeperts Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley and comes complete with one of the best choruses the band has come up with in recent times, and the battering Unwelcome Surprise, Eric sounds, quite frankly, in career-best form.
Pleasingly for lazy ‘journalists’ like me, F & J seem to have found their niche in the modern thrash landscape; angrier than Metal Church, but not as unhinged as Overkill, it’s a territory they’ve stealthily made their own and class material like the furious – and quite marvellous – Snake Eye is only going to bolster their control over this particular fiefdom.
Props must also go here to newish drummer Ken Mary – usually more at home in the world of Strickmann-approved names like Alice Cooper and House of Lords, and most recently to be found thumping the tubs for retro-metal revivalists Fifth Angel – who, surprisingly to me at least – delivers a masterclass in thrash metal drumming throughout. His footwork is exemplary, his fills punishing, his snare-work top notch. The best drummer the band has ever had? I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess, but right now he fits the band’s 2019 style like a glove, meaning that Flotsam and Jetsam can face the future in arguably their best shape in thirty years. This is great to report – almost as great as The End of Chaos is to listen to.
The End of Chaos is out on January 18th.