What makes a doom metal album, a good doom metal album? To tell the truth …
This seems to be the eleventh hour for Phoenix based legends Flotsam And Jetsam. The band which became known for many wrong reasons, such as Jason Newsted‘s departure for Metallica in 1986, has reached its eleventh studio release the past 26 years. On the one hand, we have their previous album ”The Cold” released two years ago, which raised a lot of expectations for the band, as the Flotsters were in an unsteady state for many years, releasing controversial albums that would lose interest after many listenings (though their ’90s albums were good, their two ’00s releases were kinda weak for their heavy legacy).
Also, after twenty years we have a reunion of the line-up of ”Cuatro”, their fourth album, with drummer Kelly David Smith and guitarist Michael Gilbert returning to the band. Count in some statements that this would sound like an album released after ”Cuatro”, and you get yourself into the climate of the anticipation I personally had from this album. After all, no matter what the material would sound like, the band had always one of the best singers in metal history, Eric ”A.K.” Knutson who would raise each album a click higher with his steady and experienced performances each time.
On the other hand, unfortunately we have an album that doesn’t succeed ”The Cold” the way we wanted. The album sounds strange and bizarre to be a Flotsam one, with tracks that lack energy in some parts, nerve in some others and consistency in most cases. Be it not for the band’s three decade experience, we could have faced a disaster here, as it gets so boring around the middle part of it that I kept myself yawning and wanting it to finish as soon as possible. And by the way, where the fuck is the guitar power in this release? Simple riffs, non-inspiring solos and generally the main element in Flotsam’s career seems to be absent.
A.K. does his best once again in this album and somehow saves this release, but he proves to be not enough. Some tracks sound as fillers, some others reach a hard rock perspective and if the album wouldn’t start a little experimentally with the title track and ”Run And Hide” plus the somehow up-tempo approach of ”Gitty Up” and ”Carry On”, things would be way worse. Also, the album closes a little bit better than it starts and continues, with the last four tracks sounding like there’s a little spark of life in what we thought of the band’s decayed corpse. Surely better than total failure but still not enough for such a band.
The truth is that this may be the worst album of the Arizonians, even more than ”My God” or ”Dreams Of Death”. It is an unfortunate turn of events but we can’t help but pointing it out. When bands like Flotsam have lasted that long and somehow persevered throughout all drawbacks they faced, the less you need is something decent. It reminds me of Forbidden’s last album ”Omega Wave” but at least that one had something thrashing in it. Seems like ”The Cold” was the exception that proves the rule that the quintet can’t offer something really special in overall. Flotzilla once again lost his hunger, no pic nic this time.