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Flotsam and Jetsam—The End of Chaos (2019)

End of Chaos (2019)

Details

Produced by Flotsam and Jetsam. Drums and vocals recorded at Sonic Phish Productions; guitars, bass and vocals recorded at Gnome Lord Studios and Wayne Manor Studios.

Released on 18 January 2019 on AFM Records.

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Band

  • Eric ‘A.K.’ Knutson—Vocals
  • Michael Gilbert—Guitar
  • Steve Conley—Guitar
  • Michael Spencer—Bass
  • Ken Mary—Drums

Tracks

  1. Prisoner of time
  2. Control
  3. Recover
  4. Prepare for chaos
  5. Slowly insane
  6. Architects of hate
  7. Demolition man
  8. Unwelcome surprise
  9. Snake eye
  10. Survive
  11. Good or bad
  12. The end

Review

Like many, I first heard of Flotsam and Jetsam because they were the band that Jason Newsted left to join Metallica a month after Cliff Burton’s untimely death while on tour in Sweden in September 1986.

For me, Flotsam and Jetsam’s first two albums are thrash perfection. Their debut Doomsday for the Deceiver (1986) received Kerrang! magazine’s only ever KKKKKK review (six Ks out of five). Their second, No Place for Disgrace (1988), is a masterpiece with the title track, P.A.A.B. and The Jones personal favourites and featured on various homemade mix-tapes of mine for years.

I was at university when their next couple of albums When the Storm Comes Down and Cuatro came out. I picked up the latter and while I persevered with it and grew to appreciate it, I still remember the feeling of disappointment when I first listened to it. It felt like a completely different band and with the ghost of Newsted well and truly exorcised by the early 90s, I guess it was.

This is the first Flotsam and Jetsam album that I’ve listened to since. I wasn’t sure what to expect—I felt excited and nervous in equal measure.

My initial reaction, my gut feeling after listening to The End of Chaos for the first time was, to be perfectly honest, disappointment. It sounded like a generic metal album, thrash-by-numbers. Sure, it was beautifully played and the production was crystal clear but it just wasn’t my Flotsam and Jetsam. It was like the surprise of meeting a long lost family member years later and feeling an irrational surprise that they had grown up.

It has taken me a few months and quite a few listens to let go of the ghosts of Doomsday and No Place that haunt my appreciation of any newer F&J album and begin to appreciate it for what it is.

There is an acidity, an awkwardness, a hunger, a dissonance to the sound of their debut album that got lost some time after No Place for Disgrace. The End of Chaos feels confident—gone is the brash uncertainty and energy of youth, replaced by the steadfast surety of middle-age. Flotsam and Jetsam have grown up and I missed the journey. I’ve gone straight from boy to man.

Let’s talk about the tracks.

Prisoner of time” (track 1) fires off the starting line like a rocket (to mix my metaphors). Awesome bass tone around 45 seconds in. “Control” (track 2) has more than a passing resemblance to Judas Priest “Painkiller”. It’s the chorus, it has the same rhythm.

Recover” (track 3) is a mid-paced stomp with a great melody. “Prepare for chaos” (track 4) has a similar feel. I can imagine the crowd singing along to this song live.

Slowly insane” (track 5) opens energetically. Proper old-school thrash. A.K. is an awesome vocalist and there’s a guitar solo a little after halfway through that has echoes of their earlier, late 80s catalogue.

Architects of hate” (track 6) rides on a pounding barrage of blast beats. “Demolition man” (track 7) has a crushing, start-stop riff. “Unwelcome surprise” (track 8) features a complex wall of riffs; guitars, drums and vocals weaving around one another.

Snake eye” (track 9) has an old school Testament feel to it. “Survive” (track 10) has a wonderfully heavy opening riff that opens up to make space for AK’s souring vocals.

Good or bad” (track 10) ups the pace again with some sweeping guitar licks joining up crushing riffs. “The end” (track 11) keeps the pace high right to the end of the album, making space for a half-time, anthemic chorus.

Conclusion

My appreciate of Flotsam and Jetsam is clearly caught up in my emotional attachment to their first two albums. 1986 was the year I first properly got into metal and embraced thrash with a passion. The music made sense to me, it helped me make sense of the world around me. It helped me deal with the aftermath of my dad’s triple brain haemorrhage. 1986 was the year of Master of Puppets (Metallica), Reign in Blood (Slayer), Among the Living (Anthrax) and Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying (Megadeth), Game Over (Nuclear Assault) and Rrröööaaarrr (Voïvod). What a time to get into heavy music!

My emotional barriers aside, I don’t want to be a prisoner of time, after all—this is a solid, modern metal album with its roots very firmly in the birthplace of thrash metal.

It must have been hard growing up in the shadow of Metallica and Newsted’s departure. But this is an album from a band who are clearly comfortable with who they are and who own their heritage. I’m glad I persevered with this album. It’s a killer.

Review score: 96%

Video

Disclosure

Judith from BJF Media contacted me inviting me to preview Flotsam and Jetsam’s forthcoming album, which I was delighted about but then took a few more months than I expected to write it up thanks to work and life and stuff. I have no connections to either party. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to BJF Media, and to Flotsam and Jetsam for their passion and keeping metal alive.

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