Their twenty thirteen release, Ugly Noise
, rocked out okay, but it didn’t sound ugly or noisy. It had a handful of headbanging thrash tunes, mixed with a lot of dramatic songs, with eighties era Queensryche influences. Then their twenty sixteen self titled album was a very dynamic and explosive outing. There were some influences of Melechesh
and Iron Maiden. It was one of their very best albums and will be a tough performance to match. This new release, The End of Chaos
, comes in a digipack arrangement. The album art depicts the statue of liberty as a fierce sea monster, with the world trade center burning in the background. One flap exhibits a band photo, with members of varying ages. The booklet shows the lyrics, live band photos and another band portrait with the vocalist trying to pose as the sea monster. Through
their history, Flotsam and Jetsam
has served like a minor league farm team, to be scouted by recruiters. They have lost members to bands like Metallica
, Sacred Reich
, and Prong
. Last year drummer Jason
Bittner left the band to join Overkill
. He only appeared on their twenty sixteen album, with an awesome performance.
The opener, Prisoner
of Time, commences with heavy power chords embellished with glittery high note guitar picking. The drummer strikes hard, mixing it up with heavy drum rolls and stutter beats. Then the track abruptly stops for three seconds and recovers with a deep bass rhythm. Soon the lead guitarist slices and dices with a catchy melody. The vocalist sings his lyrics with an eloquent howling voice that casually hits the high notes. “I can see the world at break neck speed, passing me by.” “Everybody takes a piece of life and cutting in line.” Then about three quarters in, the atmosphere is electrified with a blazing fast guitar solo. “Don’t forget the golden rule is to live and let live.” “Live
your life without regret or be a prisoner of time.” Vocalist Eric Knutson is fifty four years of age and started out way back during the band’s garage days, in nineteen eighty three. He is a gifted performer and has a very strong set of lungs. His skills and personality sound somewhere between Bruce Dickinson
and Geoff Tate
. Sometimes the chorus vocals dramatically enhance his higher notes.
This quintet has always featured two guitarists in their lineup. There is a lot of melodic riff shifting and fast high note picking to decorate the rhythms. Sometimes both guitarists wail out different melodies at the same time, which complement each other. They display a lot of shredding and catchy hooks. The incendiary solos are played with guitar hero skill. The fourth song, Prepare for Chaos, starts with an impressive thrash and rip melody. The bassist throws down hard with propulsive notes that climb up and bounce down and back up. The drummer combines shuffling patterns and straight across strenuous beats. The vocalist moves forward with his impassioned style. “Not a spirit who hides in the day, not an eruption that will not or may.” “It’s a wrecking ball of death and completely without fear.” Then the rhythm shifts into another direction, with similarities to a high octane version of Iron Maiden. “Once
every thousand years or so the beast gets hungry.” “And
the pain inside makes him angry.” The guitarists slice and dice, as the bassist chugs along in a rhythmic flow.
The eighth track, Unwelcome Surprise, slashes with a series of rough guitar licks. Then the bassist joins in with a heavy one-two punch and the lead guitarist picks out an artistic melody. The guitarists switch to coarse thrashing, fortified with heavy bass plucking. The tempo picks up a few notches and the vocalist sings with a frantic fury. “Win the big prize and die the next day, no one will say where it goes.” “Spend life savings on a brand new car, watch it crumple being towed.” The velocity increases further, with melodic thrashing at an abrasive intertwining. Michael Spencer is a very skilled and conspicuous bassist. His dynamic power chords often reinforce the guitar work by digging down deep and forcing out the higher notes. Sometimes he chugs along with the percussion, at other times he surprises us with outbursts of catchy rhythms.
The new drummer, Ken Mary, started his career as far back as nineteen eighty four. To his credit he has performed on six albums with Impellitteri
, five albums with Chastain
, three albums with Fifth Angel
, three albums with House Of Lords
and two albums with TKO
. The drum playing is as fast as the guitars, but never flashier than they are. There are snare drum flare ups, steady beats, stutter beats and shuffling patterns. The final offering, The End
, shreds away with delicate high notes completed with powerful riffs. The tempo is very fast and the drummer pounds with occasional cross over beats. Eric sings his lines with vigorous enthusiasm. “I have seen the future as clear as the shit in the sky.” “I have seen the four eyed monster hissing poison till it dies.” The shredding melody plays forward and then curiously alternates backward at a quick tempo. Then halfway in it slows down a couple of notches, with a dramatic interlude. “I can see the end is taking over.” “And
it always brings me down.” Then the awesome shredding comes back at an even faster tempo, with incredible guitar solos.
The End of Chaos
rocks out at a fast pace from the first song to the last track. And
the tempo gradually accelerates as the album progresses. The compositions are often multidimensional and they make the most of their three stringed performers. It is more of a melodic album, with a lot of high note shredding and less thrashing rhythms. There are some dazzling textures like early Helloween
, some Mideast textures like Melechesh
and some heavy metal textures similar to Iron Maiden. Towards the end of the album, the atmospheres become more mysterious. The lyrics seem to relate to surviving the adversities of this ever changing world. In the booklet, Eric, thanked the band for their song writing. They obviously have some superb composers. But a few of these tracks do have some similar structures. Ken Mary is a very good drummer, but Jason
Bittner performed a couple of notches better than he did on this album. The End of Chaos
is a lot better than Ugly Noise
was. Because that album wasn’t as consistent with headbanging and had too many dramatic filler tracks. Their previous album, Flotsam and Jetsam
, was a little bit better than The End of Chaos
. The compositions were more brutal and in your face. This is still one of their better works and it looks like the band has found the right chemistry.