Flotsam and Jetsam – Blood in the Water Review

A man’s real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor. Wise words but, what wisdom giveth, it may also taketh away. That first time Steel slides a selfie into your dms holding something unspeakable in one hand and a promo in the other is forever etched into each staffer’s mind. While fortunes fade and that furry memory remains, at least the promo material tends to improve with time. Case in point, Blood in the Water by thrash stalwarts Flotsam and Jetsam. When we think of the 80s thrash explosion, it would be easy to stop at the usual suspects. Flotsam and Jetsam have always been underrated but their post-2014 releases have been reliably notable. Blood in the Water is arguably the best of their current run, boasting beefy riffs and positively bovine choruses.

My experience with Flotsam and Jetsam is somewhat limited. I enjoyed Doomsday for the Deciever back in the day and eagerly wore out my copy of No Place for Disgrace. It would be some years until I returned to the band with their surprisingly enjoyable self titled record. Blood in the Water follows suit and deals in the same driving rhythms that propels much of the old school’s current work. There are no curve balls or risks to be found here and that’s just fine. This is an album of neck-charming riffing and choruses that do their best work under the skin. In that respect, the album is a distinct success. But there is still a little unwanted debris drifting on this bloodied tide.

The band’s caliber is wrought from its line-up. Original guitarist Mike Gilbert persists and Mike Conley continues his run from 2014. However, vocalist Eric A.K remains the anchor for Flotsam and Jetsam’s power infused thrash. His vocal lines imbue each chorus with that all-important memorable quantity, which is easily the album’s focal point. The title track bursts into life and immediately cements my point. A huge vocal hook and thundering riff do the heavy lifting and the pattern defines the record. “Burn the Sky” offers more of the same while “Brace for Impact” displays more rattling firepower in its Artillery. However the real highlight is the record’s central triumvirate. A little of that Tad Morose elegiac quality infuses the harmonies and immediately compounds the songs as standout. “The Walls” and “Cry for the Dead” are particular favorites. Unfortunately, these tracks are so memorable it affects an unwanted result on the album’s remaining number…

At a glance, I struggle to remember much of Blood in the Water’s second half. The albums fifty three minute run-time could stand some editing and it’s not hard to see where. The songs are certainly worthy, but they just don’t pack the same punch. This isn’t for lack of instrumental prowess. The soloing is a real highlight and works thematically with each song, adding some great emotional context and abject flaying when needed. Newcomer Bill Bodily (Contrarian ex-Toxik) asserts himself into the mix with ease. His bass work is never an afterthought and rumbles along with articulate presence. The same can be said of Ken Mary’s drumming, although I suspect a little restraint in the omnipresent fills might go a long way.

It has been some time since I have reviewed such a traditional release – those platters usually scooped up by our litany of bogus doctors… As it is, Blood in the Water has been an enjoyable experience. Flotsam and Jetsam have, once again, proved their worth through ability but, most of all, memorability. The songs willingly stick to the ribs and don’t sound rehashed like so many of their persistent peers. While Blood in the Water is by no means a perfect album, I defy any fans of the genre to keep some of these cuts from carving as deep as they please. For better or worse, some things live in the memory and it may be some time until this wears out its welcome.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: facebook.com/flotsamandjetsam
Releases Worldwide: June 4th, 2021

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