Flotsam and Jetsam – “Blood In The Water” (AFM Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Renowned for their classic debut “Doomsday For The Deceiver” in 1986 and later claim to fame that main songwriter bassist Jason Newsted went on to play in Metallica, Flotsam and Jetsam have nevertheless always remained a band in their own right and a big name that continues to be at the forefront of the underground. Defining thrash metal as its best by combining technicality with ferocity into winning songs, the Flots have released 13 prior albums, two of which have charted in the Billboard 200. A heavy touring band, they are a long-renowned name on the festival circuit or be it in support of Pantera, Megadeth, King Diamond, White Zombie, Testament and Sepultura to name but a few, and indeed are scheduled to support Accept in 2022! Signing to AFM in time to release their 12th self-titled album in 2016, things have been on a roll since then and “Blood In The Water” continues that momentum in tremendous style thanks to a star line up including drummer Ken Mary (Fifth Angel, ex-Knight Fury, ex-Accept, ex-Chastain, ex-David T. Chastain, ex-Impellitteri, ex-James Byrd, ex-TKO, ex-Strike, ex-Alice Cooper, ex-Giuffria, ex-House of Lords, ex-Magdallan, ex-Randy Hansen, ex-Soul Shock Remedy) and new bassist Bill Bodily (Contrarian, ex-War of Attrition, ex-Freya, ex-Inhumatus, ex-Toxik), who join Erik AK, Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley. Hammering in on the title track opener ‘Blood In The Water’, the trademark headbanging style of fast riffola, twanging basslines and Erik AK’s soaring vocals leading into screams makes it unmistakeably Flotsam and Jetsam, especially when the catchy melodies add their contrasting touch before the spiralling solo wails induce even more hysteria to take the temperature to fever pitch with only 11 songs to go! With Ken Mary’s pistoning double bass drums joining Bodily’s heavy, rhythmic bass to drive the bottom end on ‘Too Many Lives’, Erik AK adds an operatic touch to his drawn-out highs in making every rhyming lyric count while the guitars solo to a surprisingly melodic contrast, but of course pull it off impeccably thanks to the superb musicianship of Gilbert and Conley. No such luck on the blistering follow up of ‘Dragon’ which speaks for itself in its fast and fiery approach guaranteed to possess anyone into instant headbanging although Erik AK continues to blow my mind with his vocal capability as he soars with so much soul and power, yet effortlessly shifts into death growls the next – awesome! Growing up with this band, I’m really proud the Flots are still out there in being one of the top league bands that kick it out brilliantly with melody and mayhem in a style that many would envy.