Released: 1997, Metal Blade Records
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
In 1997 there was a bit of hope perhaps that Flotsam And Jetsam might deliver a strong album. After a long four album run on the major label MCA, the band had returned to their original home Metal Blade and HIGH was to be the start of a three album run on that label. I could just be writing this in hindsight but there was a bit of a sense that most fans knew deep down that the band would not return to the thrash sound of the first two albums. Too much time had elapsed.
The mid-90’s were, for many, an age when veteran bands were not faring well, however, there was some optimism that after the relative disappointment of DRIFT, the band might return to form, even if it was the mid-pace, 90’s inspired crunch of QUATRO. Again in hindsight, the band really was a modern 90’s band, with two quick thrash albums in the 80’s followed by a radical shift in sound for a productive decade of five studio albums, and a signature sound they stubbornly retain to this day, now nine albums post 80’s thrash.
The packaging tempted the few faithful that hoped the band would return to thrash, with a very ‘Metal’ looking set of song titles, each scripted in the font of another famous Metal band. The album arrived with yet another new logo and a clean, streamlined (albeit nondescript) album cover that was a step away from the cerebral artwork of the previous album. The album title was pretty dull but still that glimmer of hope existed…but…No. HIGH was a flat out average album.
The songs were very dull and uninspired, virtually no fast songs at all, most of them content to fall into the grey mid-paced zone, some crunch and groove but very little to get excited about. The production on HIGH was typical 90’s all mid-rangy with too many ‘modern’ influences and tones. Metal Blade ‘go-to’ producer Bill Metoyer didn’t have much to work with. The songs lacked, intensity, passion and energy. They even had a novelty cover of ‘Fork Boy’ tacked on the end, the poor choice displaying perhaps where the bands heads were at in a vain attempt to meet a new and different audience. This was the beginning of the end. After the failure of HIGH a couple of original members left and the band struggled on for a couple more albums, refusing, somewhat admirably to throw in the towel, before another long break.
In 1997 with so much incredible Metal music exploding around the world with new releases from so many newcomers, (ie. Brainstorm, Children Of Bodom, Edguy, Hammerfall, Iron Savior, Narnia, Nightwish, Rhapsody, Symphony X etc) Flotsam And Jetsam, delivered a lackluster album that just could not compete with the fiery young acts of the day. Tired and old, HIGH was just low and arguably the weakest of their entire catalogue. If you are new to Flotsam And Jetsam, please don’t judge this band by this album, it’s not horrible, in fact some apologists and die-hard defend this album, but it was just another album from band struggling to keep up in a musical era that was about to leave them behind.