Flotsam and Jetsam
The Cold

1. Hypocrite
2. Take
3. The Cold
4. Black Cloud
5. Blackened Eyes Staring
6. Better Off Dead
7. Falling Short
8. Always
9. K.Y.A.
10. Secret Life

Eric 'AK' Knutson – vocals
Mark Simpson – guitar
Michael Gilbert – guitar
Jason Ward – bass
Craig Nielsen - drums

Doomsday for the Deceiver (1986)
No Place for Disgrace (1988)
When the Storm Comes Down (1990)
Cuatro (1992)
Drift (1995)
High (1997)
Unnatural Selection (1999)
My God (2001)
Dreams of Death (2005)


Travis Smith (art)

Released 18/2-2011
Reviewed 2/2-2011

nuclear blast

It’s probably the coldness around the world with extremely cold winters, floods and dirt slides that Flotsam and Jetsam means with the title on this album – all following in the footsteps of the global dewarming. Because at least to me this album lacks that real cold itself, instead we’re served good old thrash metal the way it was made in the 80’s.

For most people, Flotsam and Jetsam is probably best known for delivering Metallica their most long-lived bass-player, Jason Newstedt, whom went on to get world-wide success with albums like ‘…And Justice For All’, ‘Metallica’ and ‘Load’ along with James, Lars and Kirk. While Metallica, who was formed the same year as the foundation to Flotsam and Jetsam was layed, went on to become one of the greatest bands ever this band has been stuck at square one all along. Members have been coming and going during 30 years of time but the differences between ‘The Cold’ and their debut, ‘Doomsday for the Deceiver’ from 1986, are so small that when I play them after each other it’s almost like putting on a remaster. So, when you do this comparison you surely can say they are true to their style. But in the same sentence you can raise the question about the musical development of this band – is it possible to progress when you end up nowhere different from where you started?

Before trying to answer that I thought I’d take a real good look at ’The Cold’ to get an answer for the question. Generally this album can be placed in a genre that’s defined by as much trash as brilliance. So also Flotsam and Jetsam. ‘The Cold’ begins very aggressive with Hypocrite, which is a song that really bangs out the music like blacksmiths and how they bangs on iron. The song’s really screaming, as much in the chorus where they shout out “Hypocrite!” as in the music itself. They hammer the axes like sledgehammers and thunders in the bass and drums as if their goal was to make a black hole. As the album goes on the more it calms down and as it does so, the better I feel it gets. It really play out the whole register with songs like Black Cloud and KYA, which are two very good songs, but it’s the calmer songs that stays with me. Better off Dead and the concluding Secret Life are probably the best in the lot and they carry that hit-factor an album needs to maintain the interest all the way. Beside these, Blackend Eyes along ith the title track are songs that top the lot of the album.

As it calms down after the beginning, Flotsam and Jetsam find their way through this album with a lead guitar-oriented thrash metal which is navigated more by feeling than rhythm and melodies. They build melodies somewhat on coincidence and probably breaks every rule there is for building up songs, and I’m not sure they always know what they’re doing when they do so. Despite this strange way of making their music, I think it lacks in identity. The music in some songs get stuck in some kind of looped transportation stage where it sounds more or less the same. Sometimes, in all of this they break away with a crazy solo or tempo change that doesn’t feel at all motivated there. Beside all of this, the Swedishs sounding vocalist Eric Knutson seems to go into some kind of half coma from time to time and there’s looong parts where it sounds more done on routine than with his heart put into it. But there are also songs where he sounds so fantastic that he could shine off anyone. I don’t know if it’s the songs that makes him seem boring or that he just wasn’t on a roll throughout the entire recording session – either case I would have wished some more from him in some of the songs.

Overall I still think the album have more of the better songs than the worse. The production leaves some to wish for at places, especially when it comes to the sound quality that makes the album sound as if it came from the early 90’s, in best case. But this is not all. I don’t think the sound as a whole is good enough, many times that overwhelming feeling isn’t there because the mixing isn’t really clean and clear enough. It feels like the album can’t really get a grip around you, instead it’s like the album is a cloud hanging around beside you – not really able to catch, not really visible and not really there.

So, to return to my opening question: is it possible to develop as a band/musican if you don’t change your music? Well, to some extent. You can’t deny that you get better at thing you do repeatedly, but somewhere the progress always stagnate. Things get routine, things get habit. So also with music. And I think Flotsam and Jetsam even though their many changed members have ended up there. They do things on routine and habit and it sounds like before. It’s when they start to experiment with ballads and calmer songs they find the feeling. Not surprisingly it’s the typical thrash metal songs that’s least interesting with ‘The Cold’.

The sentence from me is that it’s sometimes brilliant, sometimes really uninteresting and without identity. Thrash the way it was made in the 80’s, today. Honestly I’ve never liked the name of this band but now it really suits them. Flotsam and Jetsam is flotsam and jetsam, a relic frompast times that’s been flowing around on open water for decades and what once was new and fresh is now aged and worn by the time and simply not interesting any more. What saves the album are the new arrived shit from birds crapping at the flowing timber, adding something new to the whole thing. It’s a good or at least decent album but the band needs to develop themselves and not rely on birds shitting at them to maintain some quality.


Label - Nuclear Blast
Three similar bands - Lääz Rockit/Death Angel/Testament
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm