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Flotsam And Jetsam
Released: 1995, MCA 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 our 10,000th review and 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 website 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!
By the mid 90s, Flotsam and Jetsam had abandoned the technical and quite impressive second tier thrash that they had played in the 80s. Having witnessed the huge success Metallica and Megadeth had achieved by simplifying their sound on the BLACK ALBUM and COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION, Flotsam and Jetsam went in a similar but more underground direction. CUATRO, while decent, had seen lyric duties handed off to the band’s manager Eric Braverman. This was a result of the loss of bassist Troy Gregory and while adventurous, CUATRO often lacked focus. DRIFT was released in 1995, recorded on a friend of the band’s pecan farm and home studio in El Paso, Texas. There was an emotional element to DRIFT as well, the album dedicated to bassist Jason Ward’s brother Jeff Ward, guitarist for Nine Inch Nails who died from a heroin overdose.
The album opens in fine form, with “Me” a grounded heavyweight that autobiographically sums up the bands career to that point. Eric A.K’s vocals are probably the best of his career, delivered with aggression and gravity. “Empty Air” continues the jams, with a sitar featured during the opening and other parts of the song and a well-executed groove rift. “Missing” is one of the band’s more emotionally connecting songs of their career, featuring piano and acoustic guitars while “Destructive Signs” goes in a more “Planet Caravan” direction with drugged out acoustic guitar and bass lines. The most recognizable track was of course “Smoked Out”, which actually saw some radio airplay and helped propel the band to a touring slot with Korn and Megadeth. Not every experiment worked though, as the awkward “Poet’s Tell” forcefully revealed, while “Remember” leans very far into stoner metal territory.
Ultimately, DRIFT was a sign of a mature and more focused band in terms of song writing, but many fans of DOOMSDAY FOR THE DECEIVER and NO PLACE FOR DISGRACE were not impressed. Still, others recognized that Flotsam and Jetsam had run their course in technical thrash metal and rightly considered DRIFT one of the highlights of the catalog. MCA did not see it that way though, and dropped the band immediately after the album was released. DRIFT also did not garner the band the breakthrough success that they were not doubt shooting for, so in some ways the album represents their TURBO though better regarded than that album generally is among Priest fans.
2. Empty Air
3. Pick A Window
4. 12 Year Old With A Gun
8. Destructive Signs
9. Smoked Out
Kelly David-Smith : drums
Edward Carlson : guitars
Eric A.K. : vocals
Jason Ward : bass guitar
Michael Gilbert : guitars
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