REVIEW: FLOTSAM & JETSAM – “The End Of Chaos”
Throughout thrash metal’s almost 40 years of history beginning in the early 1980s, many bands have passed through the genre’s doors enjoying varying amounts of success. Some broke through the glass ceiling and popularized the genre on an undeniable scale: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, as well as later bands Pantera and Machine Head borrowing influence from thrash before weaving it into their own respective musical templates. Flotsam & Jetsam have been there since the very beginning, and have more of a history in thrash than most of their contemporaries, leading them to release a new album ‘The End of Chaos’ at the beginning of 2019.
With a fairly consistent track record of releasing albums throughout the decade, from 2010’s ‘The Cold’ through 2012’s ‘Ugly Noise’ and 2016’s self-titled ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, ‘The End of Chaos’ feels like the end of another chapter for Flotsam & Jetsam, even before the first song on the album has started.
The first track on the album, “Prisoner of Time”, accurately sets out the significance and prominence of Flotsam & Jetsam’s hybrid of thrash instrumentation and NWOBHM-influenced vocals on the part of frontman Eric “A.K.” Knutson. Without stating the obvious, it is fairly difficult to not listen to this and think Iron Maiden. “Control” immediately follows next, and definitely steps up the thrash as far as the drumming proficiency of F&J newcomer and ex- Alice Cooper drummer Ken Mary and the riffs and melodies of dual guitarists Steve Conley and Michael Gilbert.
“Recover” and “Prepare for Chaos” move things along nicely, and so far the idea for the order of tracks on ‘The End of Chaos’ appears to be to have a NWOBHM-influenced track, a thrash-influenced track, another NWBOHM-influenced track, and so on and so forth as Flotsam & Jetsam bounces back and forward between the two musical styles.
Since thrash can be interpreted by some as being a style of metal that at times is difficult musically when it comes to branching out and adopting new creative ideas and being able to successfully weave them properly into the already established framework of what it is that makes thrash metal thrash metal, Flotsam & Jetsam have throughout this album been able to achieve some sort of creative targets in terms of releasing a record so far into their career that accomplishes the feat of being more than just a bulk standard thrash album in which every song sounds no different to the others.
With Flotsam & Jetsam’s new album ‘The End of Chaos’, the band have again constructed a fresh batch of songs that in honesty don’t stray too far from the band’s established NWOBHM-influenced thrash pallet, but at the same time will definitely be enough to satisfy long time fans of F&J. This has all the hallmarks of a band proudly wearing their stylistic influences on their sleeve, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing. If you’re into thrash and want something to kick off the new year, give this album a listen to start 2019 well.