Flotsam & Jetsam
3/13/2013 - Review by: Eric Compton
These long time thrashers have been improving lately, recalling the late 80s to mid 90s era of the band. The group have always had the admiration and respect from the metal loyalists but few people you talk to play much Flotsam. I have every album and only play a select few songs. It is one of those projects that I have on my plate, analyzing each album and culling for a giant playlist. Given eleven albums in the band's history it does make for a difficult task.
"Ugly Noise" has been created using Pledge Music, basically fans contribute money for the album to be made in turn for the band to contribute funds received from the sales to charity. The record actually was released by the band themselves in late 2012 but the "official" release is in spring 2013 via longtime partner Metal Blade. We have a few reunions this go around, this is the first Metal Blade release for the band since 2001 and a reunion pairing of the same lineup that recorded "Cuatro", "Drift" and "High" representing the 1992-1997 period. Also co-credit is given to ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, a one time member of the band's first line-up.
The new record smokes from beginning to end and definitely sees the band capturing prior magic. The band sounds more enthusiastic and motivated with this recording, something that has been missing for some time now. The album starts with moody opener "Ugly Noise", a tongue in groove pounder that is enhanced with some piano parts. I love the mid-tempo "Play Your Part" with Eric's voice sounding as strong as ever. The band still lights up the thrash with monster mosh on "Machine Gun" and the Annihilator like "To Be Free".
The songs that make up this album are stripped down in the way there isn't a whole lot of high notes or recurring melody in the material. They are all bruisers with quick and dry riffing that is beefed up and down tuned heavy. I think this is the best Flotsam in twenty years due to great songs that don't re-invent the wheel necessarily but are played with conviction and a time honored tradition to heavy music. Good things come to those who wait and "Ugly Noise" is a prime example.
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