"Doomsday for the Deceiver" is the debut album from Phoenix, Arizona heavy metal band Flotsam and Jetsam. Released in 1986 and produced by heavy metal guru producer Brian Slagel, it is the only album by Flotsam and Jetsam which features Jason Newsted before his departure for Metallica. Newsted penned much of the lyrics as well as some of the music. (So, what happened to Jason when he went to Metallica? Seems to me he was stifled. )
After Jason Newsted left Flotsam to join Metallica, Flotsam replaced him with bassist Troy Gregory and forged ahead. "No Place for Disgrace" was the band's major label debut. With Newsted gone, guitarist Michael Gilbert takes over the reigns and guides the band through a blitzkrieg of supersonic speed metal. Though Newsted was gone, his presence is still felt as he had a hand in writing three of the ten songs, including the old Flots classic "I Live, You Die". The song had previously been recorded as a demo and was also released on Metal Blade's "Metal Massacre VII. It's easily one of my favorite cuts on the album. "Escape from Within" is another of the albums standout cuts. The track slowly builds from a melodic intro into full-throttle thrasher. Many people will remember that this is the Flots album with the Elton John cover on it. Being that this was the band's major label debut, I can only imagine that the idea for this song came from the label. The song sticks out on the album like a sore thumb and really doesn't work all that well with the flow of the album. Surprise, surprise, it was released as a single by Elektra. The lyrical themes range from dying in a coma ("Escape from Within"), to the P.M.R.C. ("Hard on You"), to suicide ("No Place for Disgrace.") Flots 'till death!
Flotsam & Jetsam - When the Storm Comes Down (MCA) 1990
After "When the Storm Comes Down", bassist Troy Gregory jumped ship to join Prong.
After the somewhat disappointing "When the Storm Comes Down", Flotsam & Jetsam obviously needed a change. As well, the musical landscape by 1992 was moving away from speed metal and thrash metal. As such, "Cuatro" is a bit different than the previous three albums. The songs are shorter, the tempos more varied and the production is more modern. Sentinel Steel Magazine described the album as "alternative rock." That is a completely inaccurate description. The problem is that many metal fans were trying to force Flotsam into the thrash metal mold, when they were never a pure thrash metal band to being with. Flotsam & Jetsam were a heavy metal band and "Cuatro" is still metal. Album opener "Natural Enemies" is a speedy power metal track. "Swatting At Flies" is a heavy, mid-paced romp with a big Metallica vibe and is easily one of Flotsam's best songs. "The Message" is a mid-paced song with a dark gothic vibe., "Are You Willing" is a up-tempo speed metal track and "Hypodermic Midnight" is a punk-infused rocker. So, Flotsam mixes things up a bit but they certainly didn't lose their identity. "Cuatro" is not the commercial sellout to alternative or grunge that some reviewers would have you believe. Rather it's a natural progression for one of metal's most underrated bands.
Flotsam & Jetsam - Drift (MCA) 1995
It must suck to constantly have your new projects compared to old albums, but it is inevitable. "Drift" is a good metal album, although I still don't think it stands up to the first few albums. There are some really good songs on "Drift", especially the last few which really stand out. "Destructive Signs" is a very cool song, although unusual for Flots because it is an acoustic number. The song offers a bit of diversity and shows the spectrum of their talent. I especially dig the skillfully played acoustic leads throughout the song. "Smoke Out" is an aggressive song that sounds as if it were written with a whole lot of anger. I don't know, perhaps I have just associated too much nostalgia with the first few discs and nothing Flotsam does will ever top those discs. Or, may be those first few albums were just that great.
Flotsam & Jetsam - High (Metal Blade) 1997
Flots are one of those bands that I have followed since their debut. To me those first two albums are heavy metal classics, and everything that has followed pales in comparison. When "High" first came out I didn't really like it and thought perhaps that the band was a bit too high, and released a stinker. I didn't finally pick up my own CD copy until after purchasing "Unnatural Selection." In retrospect, I have grown to like this disc quite a bit. What "High" is made of is 100% pure heavy metal. The hooks are in the music, but are just not the kind that come right out and grab you from the first listen. After repeated listens, this disc is now one of my favorites. As usual for Flots, there are lots of dynamics in the music, excellent solos, and Eric A.K.'s smooth, yet aggressive vox. Thanks to Metal Blade for signing one of America's finest power metal bands. No thanks to the big labels who did nothing for this great band. If anyone from Flotsam & Jetsam ever reads this, keep flying your metal freak flag!
Flotsam & Jetsam - Unnatural Selection (Metal Blade) 1999
Far better than some of their past discs. Some of Flot's 90's releases took some time for me to really appreciate it. On some of those album Flots were experimenting with their sound and probably trying to fit into a changing music scene. With "Unnatural Selection" Flotsam & Jetsam return to their thrash and speed metal roots, which is good. I guess all things come around, even record labels, as Flots have returned home to Metal Blade. This is probably where they should have stayed as I have read that they were jacked around by MCA and Elektra. In any case, "F**kers" is STUPID. "Hey look at us, we can cuss." "Promise Keepers" takes a bit of a stab at the Christian movement by the same name by relating it to battered, abused, or oppressed women. (Whatever, this is just not true. Promise Keepers promotes putting your wife as FIRST importance, not the opposite as people would have you believe.) Anyhow, lyrics aside, the music is enjoyable although that bass drum is really loud and clicky.
Flotsam & Jetsam - My God (Metal Blade) 2001
1. "Dig Me Up to Bury
Man, anyone who has dismissed this band since their 80's releases has not heard this album. 'My God' is simply the best Flots cd in a long time. 'My God' starts off with one of the heaviest songs the band has done in a while; "Dig Me Up to Bury Me" is fast and furious recalling the glory days of thrash metal. "Keep Breathing" slows things down a bit mixing up heavy, doomy riffs with clean, mellower verses. Erik A.K. sounds as good as he ever has, if not better. The rest of the disc follows in like manner with the band creating layers of sound, mixing heavy thrash riffs with clean guitar parts. "Nothing To Say" is another good example of this. The song starts off with a clean, mellow guitar part before bursting into a thrash riff that will cave in your skull. "Frustrate" is yet another standout cut with it's fast and steady double bass and quick guitar picking. I was mesmerized from beginning to end of this disc at the first listen. Metal purists may sneer a bit as there are some more modern grooves here and there, but overall, Flots just pump out pure heavy metal. Rarely do I enjoy a disc this much on the very first listen. Sadly it seems this will be the bands last disc, although I hope this is not true. I had read that Erik A.K. had left the band, although Flots were continuing to tour for this disc with Helstar/Destiny's End vocalist James Rivera filling in. Now that I would like to see.
Flotsam and Jetsam - Dreams of Death (Crash Music, Inc.) 2005
Would it be trite to just say "I like it"? Really, when I listened to "Dreams of Death" the first few times that is exactly what I thought. I mean, if you like Flotsam, and you've enjoyed any of their more recent albums, this one should also please fans. Eric AK sounds as good as he ever did. The band is still mixing in those aggressive thrash riffs, with the more ethereal, stoner moments. "Straight to Hell" is one of the band's more aggressive numbers reminding me of "Doomsday" or "No Place". Likewise, "Parapsychotic" is a fast and furious song with an almost punk delivery. "Bleed" brings the band to the more dynamic, groove oriented material on "Drift". This song blends their more ethereal, melodic style with some heavier moments and some sweeping guitar solos. Excellent song and perhaps my favorite on the album. "Look In His Eyes" is another faster paced, straight forward metal song that recalls the classic sound of Flotsam. However, even this song blends some more melodic moments in with the faster, heavier, parts. "Childhood Here" starts off with an clean, acoustic opening and builds into a heavy, haunting, mid-paced number, and even breaks loose into a full on, double bass, speed metal section in the middle of the song before giving way into a melodic guitar solo. "Nascentes Morimar" is one of those eerie, stoner songs that Flotsom have been writing on recent albums. This one is slow and doomy and features a lot of melodic guitar solos. "Out of Mind" features a hidden track after about a minute of silence. While this trend was interesting a decade ago, now I just find it annoying. I would much rather have the CD tracked correctly. Otherwise "Out of Mind" is a fine song to finish off the CD. As I stated in the beginning of this review, fans of this band should be pleased with this album. It's Flotsam & Jetsam sounding as good as they ever have. Cover art by Travis Smith.
Unfortunately for now I only have a promo copy of this CD, so for now "Dreams of Death" stays on the want list.
Flotsam & Jetsam - Once In A Deathtime (Driven Music) 2008
1. Hammerhead (6:33)
2. Me (3:17)
3. The Master Sleeps (4:50)
4. Swatting At Flies (4:16)
5. No Place For Disgrace (6:20)
6. Doomsday For the Deceiver (7:27)
7. Hard On You (4:29)
8. Fork Boy (4:09)
9. Never To Reveal (4:38)
10. Escape From Within (6:22)
11. I Live You Die (7:10)
12. Smoked Out (5:10)
"Once In A Deathtime" was recorded live at the 2008 Metalmania Festival is Spodek, Katowice on March 8th. The album features a good cluster of songs off the first three early Flots releases; two from Doomsday For the Deceiver, three from No Place For Disgrace, and one from When the Storm Comes Down. All six tracks are prime speed metal with all the dual guitar harmonies and the high-pitched screams in place. The remaining five tracks are split between the bands 90's releases "Drift", "Cuatro" and "High". "Fork Boy" is the lone song from "High" and is a LARD cover. Though the cover has a bit of a punk/thrash vibe, the remaining tracks stand in stark contrast to the thrashier, more metallic songs of the early years.
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