Flotsam And Jetsam – Blood In The Water
Release Date: 04/06/2021
Running Time: 53:37
Review by Simon Black
“You have to listen to this!” These words were said to me at the tail end of the 1980’s by my old school friend, housemate and partner in grime, as I returned to our house of debauchery ready to wreck the weekend. Earlier that day he had purchased vinyl copies of both Flotsam’s ‘Doomsday For The Deceiver’ and the then only just recently released ‘No Place For Disgrace’, so I sat down with a cold one for a quick listen before we went out to paint the town red, but were so entranced by these records that we did in fact forget to go out.
The former record has its place in history as the only album and band to ever receive a 6K review from Kerrang! back in the days where that sort of thing mattered, because we all read it, but frankly both of these gems got listened to so much that the records got worn out. It seemed to me a heinous crime back in those days that this act never achieved the heights of Metallica in the same time lines, but then the latter stealing the former’s bass player (only to turn him off in the mix) is one of the many, many contributory factors in all of that that, never mind the usual challenges of shitty label behaviour, and line-up instability. And bless them, they’ve kept at it through all the grief and shit without losing integrity, although only relatively getting the sort of recognition they deserve and fourteen albums later seem finally starting to make the right sort of waves. I also remember being absolutely blown away by their performance at Bloodstock back in 2014, so for me the campaign to get them on the special guest slot at next year’s show starts right here and right now, because this new record is an absolute monster.
This album opens explosively with ‘Blood In The Water’ – its opening bars are fast, furious, drowning in energy and tighter than a flea’s rectum; with a beat pause before changing tempo to a more melodic harmonised guitar intro before turning up the pace for the verse – a mode retained as it alternates between verses, choruses and bridges. If that doesn’t hammer you into wakefulness then the wisely chosen and blistering single ‘Burn The Sky’ should do the trick – more paced at the outset but no less relentless and impressive when it gets going, because let’s face it, these chaps should have trademarked the words ‘fast’ and ‘furious’ before Universal Studios. But it’s not all furious Thrashing here today and the moments when the record takes a slower and more thoughtful pace is when it kicks up another level. ‘Cry For The Dead’ is a slow burning ballad that takes an emotive and moving boost in tempo, exploring a subject we have all had to live through in the last year or so. When A.K. Knutson screams “I can’t live without the ones I love” we believe it. ‘Too Many Lives’ follows the theme, with way more aggression, but is no less moving and these two are definitely amongst the best songs this massively underrated act have delivered in the past thirty-five years.
The production is absolutely crisp and clear, pulling off the trick of sounding fresh and immediate and well-produced with every musician loud and clear in the mix whilst simultaneously retaining a homogenous band mix and feel. Finally, I can’t let these words pass without a few words about A.K. Knutson’s vocals here either. This does not sound like a man well into his fifties – his voice can shred the high notes, growl the floorboards into insensibility and every shade in between – with transitions between these two states that flawlessly and furiously fly by. ‘On fire’ doesn’t even begin to describe how well he delivers on this record.
A few words about Andy Pilkington’s beautifully crafted cover whilst I am it, as with its demonic alligator lurking in blood-filled post-apocalyptic city ruins, it perfectly evokes the demonic adornment of both the original ‘Doomsday’ record and the colouring and mood of ‘No Place’, making this feel like a wonderfully thematic bookend to a 35 year career, albeit one which feels like it’s just getting into its stride. Still relevant, blisteringly well-written and delivered, this feels like a pinnacle record right here, right now. I’ve given it a 10/10, but I wish we had a Nigel Tufnel eleven setting, because that’s what this band have delivered.
‘Brace For Impact’ (Official Video)
01. Blood In The Water
02. Burn The Sky
03. Brace For Impact
04. A Place To Die
05. The Walls
06. Cry For The Dead
07. The Wicked Hour
08. Too Many Lives
09. Grey Dragon
12. Seven Seconds ‘Til The End Of The World
Eric “AK” Knutson – Vocals
Steve Conley – Guitar
Michael Gilbert – Guitar
Bill Bodily – Bass
Ken K. Mary – Drums
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