Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flotsam and Jetsam-Ugly Noise

Metal Blade Records

This was originally released as an independent/self-release in 2012. Metal Blade Records must have heard something they liked on it as it's now coming out on their label (or so it appears). This is actually their first release on Metal Blade since 2001 so that's kind of interesting to note. Let's see if we can toss out a few other quick notes first though before we dive into "Ugly Noise". This is the band's eleventh full-length album (that's crazy) and it's the first release since 1997's "High" to feature two original members- Michael Gilbert on guitar and Kelly David Smith on drums. Reportedly every one's favorite ex-Metallica bassist, Jason Newsted, also co-wrote some of this material. Or that's at least per Wikipedia (which I hate using as a reference point, but oh well and hell). OK, to be fair I've never listened to anything these guys have done (at least full-album wise) since "No Place For Disgrace" so I can't tell if this is the band's current style or what not. The good? Well, lead vocalist Eric 'AK' Knutson sounds pretty solid. The rest of the band is tight too.  Guitarist Edward Carlson and Michael Gilbert are in fine form and the rhythm section of Jason Ward (bass)
and Kelly Smith (drums
) is rather thick and, dare I say, almost crunchy? Overall Flotsam and Jetsam sound pretty good...solid in fact. As for the music though? Well, the album art is almost a bad omen. We start off with the title cut, complete with piano intro, and then launch into an album that never seems to know where it wants to go. The title-cut (which was co-written by Newsted) is pretty good and there are numbers that really strike the perfect balance of modern metal and old-school power metal ("Play your Part").
"Gitty Up" though tries too hard to be groove metal and falls on it's face. It's not a good thing that Eric 'AK' Knutson sounds like James Hetfield from Metallica's "Load"/"Reload" period on it. Ugh. Things get worse though as that groove metal runs ramped  through "Run and Hide" and "Cross the Sky". Strangely the band seems as if they want to add radio rock, eighties-style, to the mix on these cuts leaving you to shake your head in confusion. "Rabbit's Foot" is alright even if it does strike too much of a dark metal pose."Rage" meanwhile just suffers from poor-songwriting and song-composition. Before you lose hope that there's nothing to appreciate about the new record though there is the industrial-thrash "Motherfuckery". True, it's odd to hear something like this from and eighties thrash band, but it actually comes off fairly solid. "I Believe" has no business being as good as it is with it's Alice In Chains meets Metallica vibe, but if you close your eyes and just sit back it's actually a steady little rocker. The album closes with the off-kilter "Machine Gun" which is another decent if not spectacular track. So, as stated, it seems as if the band just doesn't seem to know what they want to be which ends up hurting this album the most. Between that and some really poor lyrics "Ugly Noise" becomes far too fitting a title. Hopefully these guys can right the ship and, with some of the old lineup in place, find that old magic. Maybe there is still time for that. Although you do have to worry that, when Eric sings on "Machine Gun", "I'm past the point of no return" maybe he's right?

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home