Phoenix thrash legends Flotsam & Jetsam return with their fourteenth studio album Blood in the Water, and what a barnstormer it is. The band has been around a long time, they were initially formed back in 1981 under different guises before settling on the Flotsam & Jetsam moniker in 1984. There have been many line-up changes in the band over the years, the one that most metal fans will be aware of is former bassist Jason Newsted leaving to replace Cliff Burton in Metallica. F & J enjoyed moderate success in the mid to late 80s with albums such as the classics, Doomsday for the Deceiver (the only album ever to get a 6K review in Kerrang!) and No Place for Disgrace, and they went on to build up a strong following as a live act. The band never really transcended any higher unfortunately but continued to record and tour.
This latest record continues hot on the heels of their 2019 release The End of Chaos the line-up is largely unchanged apart from new bass player Bill Bodily. The sound of the band has evolved into a more prog metal sound over the years, that said, there are some moments of sheer thrash brilliance on this album. The first single and video to be released from the album Burn the Sky features some blistering riffs and astounding drumming from legendary drummer Ken K Mary (one of my all-time favourite drummers). Vocalist AK Knutson still hits those high notes with ease and the guitar duo of Steve Conley and Michael Gilbert shred insanely.
More highlights include the frenetic Brace for Impact, Too Many Lives with its Painkiller era Judas Priest feel, and the superb Grey Dragon with more insane musicianship and full-on metal lyrics about a ‘metal creature flying through the air’. You really can feel that the band has channeled all their anger, frustration, and unspent energy from the last twelve months or so that has rendered most musicians helpless and unable to do the thing they love most.
A fantastic album that shows that aggressive metal written and played well is very much alive and thrashing!
Author: Kenny Kendrick