Flotsam and Jetsam
Blood in the Water


4.0
excellent

Review

by Fernando Alves STAFF
June 6th, 2021 | 45 replies


Release Date: 06/04/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Flotsam and Jetsam storm into 2021 by unleashing one of their best albums to date.

Despite never having achieved neither the popularity of the Big Four nor the notoriety of bands such as Testament, Exodus, or Overkill; Flotsam and Jetsam have always been a highly respected brand within the thrash scene. Their 1986 debut, Doomsday for the Deceiver, was greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm, even getting a 6K rating (out of 5) from Kerrang magazine, which considered the Arizona band as the next big thing to spawn from the unstoppable thrash avalanche. Although I didn't listen to the album until a few years later, I still remember the day I first heard it with a now-deceased friend. Even if I wasn't overly enthusiastic about it, the colossal opener, 'Hammerhead', and Jason Newsted's amazing bass work stuck in my head for quite a while. James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich must have felt something similar since they recruited Jason into their ranks after Cliff Burton's death.

The extemporaneous departure of the founding bassist did not prevent Flotsam and Jetsam from releasing two years later the acclaimed and fan-favorite No Place for Disgrace, which was not only a worthy successor to the debut but for many even surpassed it for its consistency and greater maturity. These first two releases are the band's quintessential works, which subsequently got into a creative mess as they tried to fit into the nineties, now focused on grunge and more alternative aesthetics. A bewilderment unfortunately common to many metal bands that sank into an out-of-character limbo during this decade. Except for a few good songs here and there and The Cold, which was an exception to the rule, the band would not find themselves again until many years later with 2016's triumphant self-titled album. Flotsam and Jetsam showcased a revitalized collective, much due to the arrival of new guitarist Steve Conley who managed to bring new enthusiasm and energy to the mix, simultaneously helping to awaken the almighty Flotzilla in the subsequent The End of Chaos, a solid follow-up that attested to this new rejuvenated cycle.

Written by Steve Conley immediately after the The End of Chaos' sessions, the opener/title track not only bridges with the previous release but serves as a perfect introduction to the album. Orbiting ferocious riffs and a powerful catchy chorus, 'Blood in the Water' splendidly mirrors the straightforward thrash side of the band, reminiscent of songs like 'Hammerhead' or 'Dreams of Death'. The way Eric's superior vocals swing through the relentless instrumental assault has always represented the best Flotsam and Jetsam have to offer. And this track hits all the right spots. Blood in the Water couldn't have got off to a better start, catapulting us into a ride that, despite its different speeds, never loses intensity. All songs have a life of their own, as independent identities, representing the many faces of the band. If tracks like 'A Place to Die' and 'The Walls' have a certain closeness given their Maiden-esque galloping riffs and emotional choruses, songs such as 'Cry for the Dead' or 'Seven Seconds 'til the End of the World' possess enough contrast to distance them from the opener or 'Grey Dragon', for example, which represent the band's more straightforward approach. The closing track is even the album's biggest surprise for its more challenging composition, somewhat reminiscent of Lillian Axe (Psychoschizophrenia era).

There is a strong sense of balance and flow throughout Blood in the Water, allowing the listener to never run aground on the same shore twice. 'Too Many Lives', with its early-Metal Church meets King Diamond approach, or the Anthrax-ish 'Undone', are another example of different angles converging towards the same creative goal. This polychromy results not only from strong creative direction but also from appreciable musical maturity. Like a fine red wine, Eric A.K.'s vocals continue to be the highlight along with the guitars of Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley. Without belittling the super solid rhythm section, this trio is the sonic foundation through which the entire collective orbits, and the main reason for my enthusiasm towards these metal veterans. I would even dare to say that Eric A.K., despite his fifty-six years of age, is surely still one of the best singers within the genre.

Flotsam and Jetsam storm into 2021 by unleashing one of their best albums to date. Its flow, consistency, and overall quality catapult Blood in the Water into a niche of its own, where melody and aggression harmoniously coexist as a single organism. And although stylistically it doesn't bring anything new, its tasty songwriting and engaging highlights should be cherished, as they mirror one of the best formulas the genre has to offer.



s
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user ratings (41)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Album is a banger. One of their best releases to date.

It’s available on all streaming platforms.

Digging: Helloween - Helloween

Pikazilla
June 6th 2021


17030 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the few thrash bands I actually dig. Nice review!

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Pika

vermillionZ
June 6th 2021


359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for a great album.

Digging: Flotsam and Jetsam - Blood In The Water

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2021


9147 Comments


My only complaint about the album is the (compressed?) sound of the rhythm guitars, it should've been beefier/rawer/livelier imho.

Other than that, band is killing it, with Eric first and foremost.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Erik is like a fine red, his voice is aging well. I like the way he combines his various references; the David Coverdale-ish delivery in Reaggression was a pleasant surprise, for example.

Thanks vermillionZ.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 6th 2021


38098 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album was pretty fun, yeah. Another strong review, great work here.

Digging: Bruno Pernadas - Private Reasons

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, I appreciate it.

It's fun and somewhat satisfying. I'm glad the guys are dropping quality music after so many years.

MyFriendMetatron
June 6th 2021


75 Comments


This is so much better than I expected. I've always enjoyed their.output.on some level, but this is great.

Erik is on point.

Digging: Dvne - Etemen nka

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2021


14285 Comments


I know these guys are basically vets at this stage, but it’s still a ridiculous band name.

Great review Mr. Notrap Loving the riff focus here.

Digging: Diskord - Degenerations

rockarollacola
June 6th 2021


790 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I am shocked by how good this is. Their last album was okay, but this thing is a MONSTER.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2021


24533 Comments


Crazy thrash revival happening this year.

Digging: Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar

Willie
Moderator
June 7th 2021


18922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

--These first two releases are the band's quintessential works--

It's funny you say that, because I've always been partial to the two that came after those ones... When the Storms Comes Down and Cuatro. I even like The Cold more than those first two releases. And now I like the new one more than those two as well.

Digging: At the Gates - The Nightmare of Being

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Historically and artistically I do think that the first two are the band's most relevant releases and the ones they will be remembered for in the (distant) future. Except for The Cold, I feel the lads were a bit lost after No Place for Disgrace. That being said, at the moment I also prefer this one to the first two releases.



Cheers & thanks Nocte.



"Crazy thrash revival happening this year."

Yeah, the genre has delivered good stuff this year: Enforced, Cryptosis, and now Flotsam. I hope that by the end of the year there will still be some good surprises.

GhostShelter
June 7th 2021


39 Comments


How to take a band seriously with a name like that?

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2021


14285 Comments


I’d be more worried about a legal firm with the same name.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'd be more worried if the band's name were Flotsam of Death.

Hawks
June 7th 2021


74666 Comments


Gotta jam.

Digging: ...and Oceans - Cosmic World Mother

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
June 7th 2021


16188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This probably isn't your cup of tea, but take a peek at the opener and see if you dig it.

Willie
Moderator
June 7th 2021


18922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

--Historically and artistically I do think that the first two are the band's most relevant releases and the ones they will be remembered for in the (distant) future.--

I agree, I'm just not the biggest fan. I like the opening songs on both albums and then they just kind of lose me. I think Cuatro was the album where they found a sound they should have stuck with. Barring that, The Cold was another album with a new sound they could have stuck with. The no-frills thrash works, but it's still just another solid thrash album from a genre that's roughly 40 years old, and full of solid no-frills thrash albums.



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