Ugly Noise (Metal Blade)
Easily my favorite album of early 2013 is the new album by FLOTSAM AND JETSAM. The anticipation was high for this release and with good reason. The bands’ amazing groundswell of fans making their PledgeMusic campaign was one. The reunion of the Cuatro lineup of the band was another reason to get stoked. When we interviewed guitarist MICHAEL GILBERT last summer about the contributions of early member JASON NEWSTED to the new album, marking his return to heavy music, that was yet another. 2010′s “The Cold” wasn’t a bad album, but perhaps it lacked some of the fire the band had. With so many of the classic 1980s Thrash Metal bands turning out excellent records, I was just excited to hear what these guys, reunited and hungry were gonna do with their chance. They certainly did not disappoint. The finished album, self-produced by the band, is totally killer.
“Ugly Noise” kicks off the album in dramatic style with sweeping piano and movie quality, thematic guitar riffs. It has the feeling of the royal the pronouncement of a battle about to take place. After about a minute of this intro, the main beat and riff chime in and just crush it. Such a classic sound of Thrash, one that is both old-school and modern all at once. Then there is singer ERIC A.K. and his performance which pretty much sets the table for the entire album. He teases you with one haunting line at the start of the song. However, it is the swelling verses that increase in passion and anguish each time through the track that really captivate you. Eric has always had one of the preeminent voices in metal, and he announces his return with grand style. His range is outstanding and he carries enough grit to keep things tough. There is also a stellar guitar solo, and a some cool backing vocals by Gilbert there as well. A perfect track to start things off with.
“Giddy Up” is not just a cool song title, but also the galloping tempo of this guitar heavy track. In shape contrast to the epic feel of the first song, this cut hits you quick, has another slick solo and a great chorus too. It’s almost over too quick, but that is not a bad thing. “Run and Hide” changes the pace, by slowing things down and introducing atmospheric keyboards and Eric’s brooding voice. Returning bassist Jason Ward chips in some deep toned-bass lines as well. Flotz was never solely a meat and potatoes-type of Thrash band. Even early in their career, they had a musical depth and maturity their peers didn’t display. This song is an amazing hard rock/classic Prog metal type song that I wish QUEENSRŸCHE could get back to writing. “Carry On” flips the switch again, ratcheting up the beat and the fury. The area where a lot of the early thrash bands have trouble translating to today’s’ sound is in the drums. Luckily for these guys, band founder Kelly David-Smith slams behind the kit, always matching the perfect part with the track. “Rabbit’s Foot” is the only track even close to a ballad, but even when they go down this road, the song still rocks with a heaviness.
“Play Your Part” is flat out amazing and should be considered for a single release. Heavy chopping chords, more lead guitars and yet another cool performance for the ageless pipes of Eric A.K. I believe the melodies and lyrics of this album alone are going to be talked about for many years. “Rage” and “Cross The Sky” are both rough and nasty. Two different kinds of tough songs that fans new and old should love. “Motherfuckery” not only has a badass title, but is my favorite song on the album. Most bands that try to marry some kind of electronic programming with thrash riffs, usually come up short unless you are MINISTRY. This song makes it work in spades! The lyrics will hit home for anyone who’s ever been betrayed by someone of the fairer sex. You also have to give it up to mainstay guitarist Ed Carlson’s guitar work throughout the album too. He really contributes some great parts. The album closes out with the trifecta of “I Believe”, “To Be Free” and “Machine Gun”. Each is a short slab of rock and metal goodness with the band letting everything hang out. They have also managed the difficult trick that ANTHRAX did on Worship Music or FORBIDDEN did on The Omega Wave. Which is to say they made an album that is brutal when it should be, but goes beyond the confines of the style to become something even more: timeless and genre changing.
You can buy Ugly Noise from the bands’ website or when you catch them on tour.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes