Flotsam and Jetsam
Ugly Noise


3.2
good

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
February 2nd, 2013 | 42 replies


Release Date: 04/16/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ugly Noise would be a lot more exciting if it didn't feel like such a huge step backwards.

I’ve been trying to figure out what my problem is with this album. It’s really good and I keep coming back to it, but something is still tempering its impact. The only answer seems to be that Ugly Noise is a victim of bad timing due to its proximity to Flotsam’s last release, The Cold. Without The Cold, Ugly Noise could be praised as a return to form and the best thing they’ve done since the early nineties, but The Cold is already all of those things and more. Where The Cold could be called a stylistic leap for the band, Ugly Noise finds them right back in 1995. So, instead of enjoyment, I’m left feeling disappointed about all of the (perceived) missed potential, and a little frustrated that they’ve ditched the sound that they just barely established. The thing is, if you ignore all the extraneous issues, Ugly Noise is really quite the solid album.

For those that have missed the interviews, Ugly Noise is the album that could have come after Drift. It’s the mid-paced, no-frills groove metal of Cuatro along with the strong songwriting of Drift with just a bit of When the Storm Comes Down’s loose, quirky riffing style. Fans that appreciated the band beyond their first two releases would probably agree that Cuatro and Drift are wonderful releases, and Ugly Noise strives to hit that same level of quality but never really attains it. Nowhere will you find a gem as strong as ‘Never to Reveal’ or ‘Wading Through the Darkness’ – although it does come close a few times. The title track (Co-written by Jason Newstead, ex-Voivod) is an exercise in dark, moody metal with an excellent piano-led intro portion. Elsewhere, the catchy groove of ‘To Be Free’ stands as the album’s peak, but otherwise everything is extremely solid without standing out.

That’s not to say that the songs all blend together or lack their own unique angles, because that would be entirely untrue. The band definitely weren’t content to simply rehash a formula they haven’t used in nearly twenty years; there are plenty of modern little flourishes scattered about. There’s the pulsating synth that seeps throughout ‘Run and Hide’ and establishes its moody atmosphere. The modern slant of the dark ballad ‘Rabbits Foot’ and the off-time percussion of ‘Machine Gun’ are just a few other instances of the band stepping into new territory while retaining their 1990s foundation. Probably the most surprising addition is the Ministry meets Flotsam and Jetsam sounds that dominate the wonderfully titled ‘Mother***ery’. The song starts with a looping beat before breaking into a cyclic riff played over a double bass-infused wall of rhythmic percussion. There even seems to be a bit of vocal effects used in parts of the song, and it all works really well.

In the end, it’s really going to come down to whether you can get past “what could have been” and focus on the actual reality of the situation. The reality is that Ugly Noise is a solid return to Flotsam and Jetsam’s most high-profile era, mixed with a few new tricks and modern influences. Considering the band’s output over the past fifteen years, it’s also a very welcome addition to their discography. Granted, it doesn’t come close to reaching the lofty heights established by Cuatro, it does at least come close to Drift. The biggest issue is simply that without The Cold casting its shadow over this album, Ugly Noise would be generating infinitely more fan excitement due to its successful return to the band’s most popular era (not to mention the reunification of that era’s line-up), and that is still saying a lot.



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user ratings (29)
Chart.
2.7
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
February 2nd 2013


16133 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3 | Sound Off

This was only released in limited quantities for now. There isn't an official release date yet.

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

DirEnRefused
February 2nd 2013


2240 Comments


Review reads like a 3.1.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2013


50872 Comments


4 Willie reviews this year great year

Digging: Bobby Barnett - Little Wounds

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2013


6289 Comments


Excellent work as always.

I will check this one, as I find the band's mid-period (Cuatro, Drift AND High) infinitely more interesting than their "legacy" years.



Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2013


8387 Comments


Review reads like a 3.1.
LOL

Good review man, glad to see you getting back into reviewing recently (yes, I actually do read your stuff haha).

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 2nd 2013


20077 Comments


I had a feeling this would be you Willie. Great review I love this band's older material.

Digging: Circa Survive - Descensus

Willie
Moderator
February 2nd 2013


16133 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3 | Sound Off

It's a good album. It isn't coming out worldwide just yet, but I figured that I'd get the review out while I had the time.

KILL
February 2nd 2013


72131 Comments


will check

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2013


10367 Comments


Interesting. I've heard this name many times, but haven't checked them out yet.

KILL
February 2nd 2013


72131 Comments


get their first 2

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2013


7318 Comments


Really good review Trey. I'm not at all familiar with this band (sue me! :/) but the tone you takein this review seems to suggest that I might like it quite a bit for that very reason.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Willie
Moderator
February 2nd 2013


16133 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3 | Sound Off

If you're going to check them out, start with their album Cuatro.

Wildorwhat
February 2nd 2013


88 Comments


http://www.neopets.com/flotsam/

zaruyache
February 3rd 2013


7284 Comments


3.2 rating? What devhacks is this? I want to rate stuff in .1 multiples instead of .5!!

Digging: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times

Willie
Moderator
February 3rd 2013


16133 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3 | Sound Off

Gotta check this band altogether. I was saddened when I came to find some of their work in a music shop and I had to pass because I didn't know if it would be a waste of money or not.
A lot of people would recommend their first two albums, but nostalgia may have overblown them. I would suggest that you try The Cold and Cuatro before you move back to the past.

toxin.
February 3rd 2013


12778 Comments


Great review. I think this is an excellent use of the new rating system. A 3.2, imo, perfectly suits the attitude of the review. Like pretty good, but not impactful enough to be a 3.5.

ColdGobra
February 3rd 2013


57 Comments


what's up with rating everything .2 or .1
the hell

TheNotrap
February 3rd 2013


8127 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Uninspired release in my opinion, but to each his own.

Great review as usual.

Digging: Pink Floyd - The Endless River

Ending
February 3rd 2013


1919 Comments


Increments of 0.1 and a new review layout: these will take a while for me to grow accustomed to, I can already tell.

Nonetheless, I like them. As for this album, I'll probably skip it.

Willie
Moderator
February 3rd 2013


16133 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3 | Sound Off

It's a shame that they didn't keep up the direction found on The Cold. It was like Nevermore with better songwriting and a better vocalist... and now that Nevermore is gone they could have filled the void. The story of this band's life... always taking the wrong path.



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