Now, while I know that Flotsam And Jetsam have been around for a really long time and have plenty of albums under their belt, the only one I’ve ever actually heard before is ‘No Place For Disgrace’, and that was nearly 30 years ago. Eric “A.K.” Knutson and Michael Gilbert are the only 2 members still around from back then, granted Michael Spencer was with the band over 30 years ago after Jason Newsted left and re-joined 5 years ago, but wasn’t on the aforementioned album. Steve Conley also joined the band 5 years ago to replace long time guitarist Ed Carlson, while drummer Ken Mary has only joined the band recently.
The flurry of drums that opens “Prisoner of Time” is quickly joined by the guitars before a brief bass solo lets in the vocals and the song begins in earnest. A.K.’s vocals are clear, precise and full of melody while the guitars are heavy and just as melodic.
The lyric video for “Control” is just as fast and intense as the song itself, where the rapidly played lead and galloping drums are just two of the high points it contains.
Next up is the only slightly slower “Recover”, where the continuous drum rolls let the soaring vocals work their magic and emphasise the lyrics all the more.
The root notes being hit by the bass add an extra depth to the guitar riffs on “Prepare for Chaos” along with the sharp snare snaps over the clicky kick drums, while “Slowly Insane” has the snare being soundly beaten anything but slowly.
Even though Ken’s feet have little respite during “Architects of Hate”, as they constantly batter the kick drum, the guitars are a little more mid-tempoed and melodic in riff structure.
The first track I heard from the album was via the “Demolition Man” video where the chorus certainly highlights A.K.’s vocals and the guitar-manship of Michael and Steve as complemented by the backline of Ken and Michael.
The catchy chorus of “Unwelcome Surprise” is extremely easy to sing along to as opposed to that of “Snake Eye” where it flows too fast to be as easily repeatable.
The vocals on “Survive” are almost half the pace of the drumming, whereas the guitars fluctuate between the two depending on which is the focal point at the time.
“Good or Bad” has a very 80s thrash vibe to it, where there’s a subtle guitar lead playing throughout the song and a relaxed drum rhythm with the odd bass solo as a fill all the while the melodic vocals have accompanying harmonies for added depth.
They finish up with the upbeat and fast-paced “The End”, which funnily enough is the complete antithesis of the lyrical content, which is far from cheery but oh so beautifully delivered.
Definitely a great way to start the year with an album of this quality. Let’s hope the next 11 months are as good.
(8/10 Marco Gaminara)