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Flotsam And Jetsam - End Of Chaos - CD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €19.95

Penning your newest album as ‘self-titled’ over 30 years into your musical career is undoubtedly interpreted as a statement, one that is arguably unavoidable in the hands of nearly any long time artist. Such “obligatory” proclamation of self was exactly what Arizona thrash-metal veterans Flotsam and Jetsamdid back in 2016. That record was a successful rebirth of the band’s classic sound for listeners of the modern age, an all killer no filler collection of tracks rooted in the best sauce of the band’s hailed beginnings, showing a rejuvenated energy and top-notch musicianship. Many proclaimed it as Flotz greatest opus since “No Place for Disgrace” hit the shelves in the spring of 1998…

A little over two years have passed, and along the way, the band faced another in a long list of line-up changes: world-renowned drummer Jason Bittner left the ranks to join the New Jersey thrashers Overkill. Let’s face it: throughout their entire career fate hasn’t been on the side of the Phoenix based five-piece. Their record sales haven’t reached the kind of numbers their thrilling output justly deserves, and they have been classified as an anomaly in the annals of heavy metal history, one that sits on the underrated side of it. Nevertheless, I’m not going to write about past glories now, neither how they achieved the first (and only) 6K rating in Kerrang!’s history, nor why after their landmark debut Jason Newsted left them to jump onto the Metallica freight-train. If you know your metal, you’ve heard all those stories already, and the ghost of the past are better left alone.

Keeping the momentum going is an undaunting task, but battling in the furrows is actually what these guys have done for the last three decades. To address the vacant drummer seat, the rest of the band – original members Erik A Kutson (vocals) and Mike Gilbert (guitars), along with Michael Spencer (bass) and Steve Conley (guitars) – tapped Ken Mary for their 2018 North American tour with Hammerfall, and later down the road welcomed him as the band’s permanent stickman. For those uninitiated, Mary has worked as a drummer, producer, engineer, singer, record executive and writer on over thirty-five albums that combined have sold over five million copies worldwide, and he’s best known for his work with notable acts such as Accept, Fifth Angel, Chastain, TKO, Impellitteri, House of Lords, Bonfire and Alice Cooper… how’s that for a resume?

Enough with the story and the introductions, man! Just tell us, how good The End of Chaos is? Well son, if you want the shortest possible answer… just go ahead and pre-order it. Don’t blink or hesitate. Is THAT good. But let’s elaborate further for those who love to read.

The opening salvo “Prisoner of Time” blasts out of the gate with a menacing yet melodic and absolutely furious rhythm section for the first 40 seconds, to segue into a brief bass interlude just before A.K. gets to the mic and unleashes the first verses. The chorus Live your life without regret, don’t be a prisoner of time” is pure Flotz gold in unadulterated form, the guitars hollowing out your ears combining melodies and riffs, and the rhythm section… well those boys deserve some words. First, we have bassist Michael Spencer insanely frenetic, dense and hammering bass lines. This five strings motherfucker is a major groover, with a bass sound as good as your grandma roasted beef with potatoes. Secondly, we have the new kid in town, Mr. Ken Mary. I will refer to his drumming here just once, as an intelligent way to avoid repeating myself song after song: it fucking slays. His drumming inoculates a gut-wrenching layer that simply moves the fierceness and intensity knob to 15: merciless and accurate drum-beats, complex patterns in the speedy parts, and a masterclass use of double-bass which would give Dave Lombardo a run for his money. Flotz have always had excellent guys manning the sticks, but Mary’s playing here is maniacal, or even better: sorta inhuman.

Obviously, Flotsam and Jetsam‘s sound would not be as easily recognizable as it is, if it wasn’t because of A.K. signature vocals, and whatever Knutson recipe is, he should share it with some of his peers. Long are the days of those helium fuelled shrieks of his, and truth be told, they were meant for a different age. His vocals register has aged nicely, incorporating new dynamics while still unleash fury and aggression if needed. For some newcomers to the band more used to hear brutal vocals, it might be more difficult to get accustomed to Erik‘s voice, but for all the other people that comes from heavy metal, listening a singer as him in a speed-thrash album is a fucking pleasure.

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