Released: 2010, Crash Music
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Once upon a time, Flotsam and Jetsam seemed like they were poised for the big times. They had a major label deal, a catchy video getting regular rotation on MTV, and support slots on some primo tours. And then…not so much. The band suffered from what was perceived as a series of watered down releases, which left many fans with a sour taste. Despite a return to form with UNNATURAL SELECTION and DREAMS OF DEATH, Flotsam and Jetsam never seemed to fully recover. THE COLD is the band’s first new studio effort in five years, and is the darkest album yet from the band. Seeming to embrace their down on their luck status, THE COLD funnels that those bitter feelings into some of their best work in a long while.
Each song feels like it has a chip on its shoulder, and it works to the band’s advantage. “Hypocrite” opens with the unmistakable Eric A.K. accompanied by a subtle piano movement, before ripping the lid off things. “Take” is about giving everything with nothing in return, and the band gives it all here. Songs like “Black Cloud,” “Blackened Eyes Staring” “Always” and “K.Y.A.” are traditional Flotsam-thrash tunes, and remind you why this band was so good. Songs like “Better Off Dead” are a little too much, with its sappy presentation and “woe is me” lyrics, and the closing “Secret Life” feels like it doesn’t know exactly what it’s supposed to be.
Musically, the band has never faltered. Eric A.K.’s voice sounds as good as it’s always been and the guitar team of Michael Gilbert and the recently exited Edward Carlson knows how to combine solid riff structure with some tasty solo work. Longtime bassist Jason Ward gets lost in the mix, but Craig Nielson’s drumming is the true foundation of the album here, particularly on tunes like “Hypocrite” and “Blackened Eyes Staring.”
Scenes and trends may come and go, but Flotsam and Jetsam have always been there, doing what they do best. THE COLD is a great reason to start paying attention again. It’s no DOOMSDAY FOR THE DECEIVER, but then again, what is in 2010? Flotsam and Jetsam continue to slug it out for anyone who will listen, and THE COLD is proof that perseverance pays off.