FLOTSAM AND JETSAM - The End Of Chaos
February 21, 2019, a month ago
Listening through The End Of Chaos for the umpteenth time in the last month, it continues to boggle the mind why this band has never received its just reward. Sure, they have a loyal (cult) following and can lay claim to two timeless records from their younger years - Doomsday For The Deceiver (1986) and No Place For Disgrace (1988) - but Flotsam And Jetsam are at the very least worthy of being praised and lauded with the same mass enthusiasm given to thrash brethren Overkill, Death Angel and Exodus. Maybe it's just (lack of) dumb luck, perhaps the "progressive" prefix that is often attached to the F&J sound scares some rivet-heads off, but The End Of Chaos is one of those brilliant thrash and burn albums that should not be overlooked.
Where to start? One would guess lead-off track "Prisoner Of Time" sets the tone for the record, which it does.... for about 40 seconds before warping itself into a mid-tempo Megadeth vibe. It makes for an easy flow into a true realm of sonic violence that begins with "Control", which is all about breakneck speed, almighty riffs, ridiculously tight drums (courtesy of royalty Ken Mary), and a truckload of guitar leads that carry the song from beginning to end. It's a formula that plays out over the course of the record at varying speeds, with "Slowly Insane" lumbering in with some of the meatiest 1984 thrash riffs and leads on this side of the turn of the century (Metallica should be jealous). Said song - and the schizophrenic "Recover" even moreso - pays tribute the "progressive" stamp Flotsam & Jetsam have been wearing long before people had even decided what it meant in metal terms. The musicianship on The End Of Chaos falls between incredible to mindblowing depending on the song, with "Good Or Bad", "Snake Eye", "The End" and "Slowly Insane" changing places at the top of the list depending on my day. Steve Conley and Michael Gilbert are officially the most underrated guitar team on the planet.
The ebb and flow of the record is outstanding for the most part, although it could probably do with a tracklist trimmed from 12 to 10, as processing this amount of awesome can be rather hard on the brain. It really is a lot to take in.
Adding to my personal gripe that Flotsam And Jetsam aren't given the attention they deserve, Erik A.K.'s vocals on The End Of Chaos are full-on pissed off Bruce Dickinson (see "Architects Of Hate" and "Good Or Bad" as only two examples). Without a doubt, the majority of people completely unaware of Flotsam And Jetsam would peg this as a solo album or project from the Iron Maiden legend, as A.K. sings his balls off with the same tone, power and intensity. Not taking anything away from the man, however, as his vocals give Flotsam And Jetsam their identity the same way Blitz is known first and forever as the voice of Overkill, and Zetro is the true sound of Exodus. He delivers every song with a trademark mid-range that could have potentially led to flagging listener attention half way through, but if anything his voice ropes you in for the long bludgeoning haul.
In all honesty, given the high quality thrash that has been unleashed over the past year, enjoying The End Of Chaos this much was unexpected. Then again, that's usually the case when one (re)discovers a diamond in the rough.