Flotsam And Jetsam – “End Of Chaos” (AFM Records)
I never thought I’d say this but at last comes an album that could rival “Doomsday For The Deceiver”! The first album in Kerrang! history to attain a 6k mark, this debut threw the bar so high that sadly this Arizona thrash band would never surpass. However, the “End Of Chaos” certainly hits the mark – the first to do so in the band’s 37 year career. Almost relegated to being a band touring off past glorious (and that by now long used up Metallica connection), Flotsam And Jetsam got back on the map through their self titled 2016 album. Since then things have gotten better by the recruitment of legendary drummer Ken Mary (Fifth Angel, Alice Cooper, House of Lords, TKO, Chastain, Impellitteri) and together with the longtime core of vocalist Eric ‘AK’ Knutson and guitarist Michael Gilbert, they have created an absolute gem in this 13th album – a number that might be bad luck for many, yet perversely has been the opposite here! Heralded in their early days through their defining sound of intense thrash yet masterfully graced by massive melodies and hooks, it didn’t come as a surprise that Flotsam And Jetsam were being groomed to follow in Metallica’s wake and here, in the “End Of Chaos” you get to experience just what made up all the euphoria over “Doomsday For The Deceiver”. Quite frankly, the energy level here is firing on all cylinders throughout the 12 tracks and Ken Mary’s drumming is not only a nuclear piston propelling the band but actually gelling them together to be that fearsome five piece that everyone was talking about in 1986. No puppets themselves though, Knutson puts on a star performance through the power of his highs and more impressively, his stirring soul machine gunning out the rhyming lyrics while Michael Gilbert has simply excelled in bringing back classic thrash riffs that I’ve yearned for in over 3 decades – man, if I still had hair I’d be headbanging to this new found glory! Indeed, once part of a wonderboy axe duo, Gilbert’s still talented fret board work is now matched by Steve Conley, who’s more than able to dish out his own jaw dropping moments or joining with Gilbert to bring the hammer down while not omitting some very musclebound melodies indeed. Not to be forgotten, Michael Spencer does plenty of bass hammering throughout, and equally doesn’t forget to heap in tons of Newsted style twanging just to complete that early trademark sound, made even more incredible thanks to the mastering genius of renowned Jacob Hansen. From the furore of ‘Control’ as Knutson’s soul blends insanely with Mary’s stampeding drums while the guitars just spin riffs and catchy melodies around and around – including one ultra catchy lick that just sticks in your mind – you will truly go bonkers to the bliss, that’s if your heart doesn’t disintegrate before the end ha ha! With a massively epic sound driving ‘Slowly Insane’, prepare yourselves for the devastating thrash riff that reaches straight into your soul possessively before the insane solo intensity of Gilbert and Conley starts piling into you one after another, graced by Knutson’s soul and some strange but effective dark harmonies – like I said, it’s perverse, but man, does it work and brilliantly too! Closing with ‘The End’ at just under 3 1/2 minutes, it almost feels like 10 minutes given how the Flots let nothing (good) go to waste by just cramming in every left over quality riff, melody, groove and harmony – all sewn together in a classic Flotsam And Jetsam ball of dynamic intensity that sends the heart racing while not forgetting the passion in the atmospheric chorus – fantastic. An incredible release that does their legacy proud, “End Of Chaos” is the one Flots fans have been waiting many a year for. Damn, these boys are good!