Review Summary: A reminder that Flotsam and Jetsam can still bring their A game when they have the right people and enough eagerness to do so.
Flotsam and Jetsam have always stood out like a sore thumb amongst their peers. Never "thrashy" enough to turn the heads of Slayer die-hards, not quite as fun as Anthrax's tongue-in-cheek youthful exuberance in the 80s, and let's be honest, Flotsam and Jetsam didn't write music tailor-made for arenas witnessed by thousands of attendees. None of this matters when you take a minute to ponder just how creative and intricate the band's songwriting has been however. I'm not just talking about Doomsday for the Deceiver
and No Place for Disgrace
either. Scoping out the bigger picture will reveal to you that, in all honesty, this band's foundations and career trajectory over the last few decades has succeeded on a willingness to be as consistent as possible, and whilst it hasn't always worked (every band has a bit of a slump at some point, it's inevitable), you can safely say that Flotsam and Jetsam will never lose their devotees-or, indeed, their communal spirit.
Let's get straight to the point: This year's The End of Chaos
sees Flotsam and Jetsam finding themselves in a strong albeit eager position, a world in which their creative well of inspiration perfectly matches the enthusiasm they have for writing and performing a style of metal which has worked for them since virtually day one. No, you won't get lengthy epics which explore and show off the band's instrumental prowess. Instead, you'll discover songs which last half as long as you'd expect and include all of the above. Opener "Prisoner of Time" embarks on a vigorous journey through some of the band's most memorable riffs yet. Basslines mould into harder-hitting drum blasts, and the unsurprisingly spot-on vocal delivery courtesy of Eric A.K. drives the song into overdrive, which is in similar fashion to most of the album itself. "Control" and "Architect of Hate" clearly open their arms to inspiration dragged from the heart of 80s power metal, whereas A.K. sneers his way through the more menacing likes of "Prepare for Chaos" and "Slowly Insane" as some of the heaviest riffs known in Flotsam and Jetsam's back catalogue unfold. Sure, there's nothing here that was written or performed with the sole intent of gaining a hefty amount of new(er) fans or indeed getting the band's name into the charts, but you can feel the eagerness oozing in pretty much every aspect.
The End of Chaos
does have a few moments where the band like to step out of their comfort zone. The aforementioned "Slowly Insane" for example offers nothing you haven't heard before in its predictable albeit satisfying first half. Then, all of a sudden, the halfway point turns on the limelight and you're thrown into this epic composition where A.K.'s vocals get doubled up, Wagnerian solo work unfolds and the atmosphere becomes ever denser, showcasing the band's progressive tendencies just when you least expect it. Alas, this is a good thing, especially for those who were expecting an album similar in fashion to the ambitious nature of No Place for Disgrace
. Similarly, there's a lot of flair to be found in certain songs, particularly the solo sections. "Unwelcome Surprise" explodes with ferocity as Gilbert's note-perfect guitar work wails alongside newcomer Ken Mary's fitting drum rhythms. "Control" matches A.K.'s passionate vocal performance with an equally as exhilarating mid-section where the victorious spirit is maintained through the instrumentation's on-point speed and precision.
The End of Chaos
doesn't render Flotsam and Jetsam in a state of superstardom, nor does it match the immediacy of the band's 80s heyday. It does however mark a stronger position for the band to be in for quite some while, and whilst this sense of resurgence was arguably set in stone by previous album Flotsam and Jetsam
, here it's obvious that the band are feeling content with the end product and enthusiastic for what may come in the future.