Most bands tend to get better as time goes on. They hone and refine their craft and usually by the second or third album they strike gold, if not with their debut. Some of them keep the streak going for many successive releases with only the occasional bump in the road here or there. Well…FLOTSAM AND JETSAM aren’t most bands. And ever since my personal favorite disc, 1988’s No Place For Disgrace, they haven’t hit bumps, oh no. They’ve hit fucking POTHOLES! Never have I seen or heard a band get progressively worse over the years. And 2013’s ill-fated re-recording of that landmark disc ranks as one of the worst ideas ever laid to tape.
In fact, the only songs I’ve liked across the nine albums since Disgrace have been “Wading Through the Darkness”, “Swatting at Flies”, (1992) and “Empty Air” (1995). This is a band that just never put together a solid offering so they sure as Hell weren’t gonna get any of my money. But when I learned that they signed with AFM Records, one of my favorite labels, I thought to myself, “There must be some significant improvement if these guys picked them up, right?” No, WRONG!! The new self-titled record drops tomorrow, May 20, and quite frankly it is fucking awful for most of the way with maybe a couple of good tunes, but that’s it.
Now before I even get into all that let me say that I’ve seen a couple of reviews heaping lavish praise upon this disc, and from that I can only conclude one of two things: A) Those reviewers are in serious need of medical help and should probably sit the next couple of plays out or B) There is some serious money changing hands here because there can be NO other explanations as to why anyone could possibly like this crap. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that somewhere in America, this is someone’s favorite band!! Anyways, on to some of the songs…I say some because quite frankly I can’t sit through this thing again to give you all a track-by-track analysis.
The opener “Seventh Seal” is too long, too repetitive, and not very good at all. However, a small bit of redemption is found with “Life Is a Mess”, a song I could actually get behind. “Taser” has a good musical arrangement, but Eric “A.K.” Knutson’s voice is especially grating. Oh, and then we come to the very poorly named “Iron Maiden.” Uhhhh…WHAT?!? This sounds like a bad tribute band trying and failing to capture/rip off that iconic band’s legendary sound. So awful I wanted to jump out a seventh story window. The same can be said for “Verge of Tragedy”. The real tragedy is that I had to endure 5:20 of this crap.
Another glimmer of hope shows up for the first 1:20 of “Creeper”. Then the vocals kick in and I run for cover. What the fuck, man?? Album closer “Forbidden Territories” is one of the only bright spots, both musically AND vocally. I also really liked it because when I got to this one it meant my 12-track ordeal was coming to an end. I don’t know what the Hell I did to deserve this assault on my ears, and I’m starting to wonder if the label rep over there secretly hates me and has a voodoo doll with my face on it. If you listen to nothing else I tell you people, hear me now: AVOID THIS GODAWFUL ALBUM AT ALL COSTS!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Forbidden Territories”, “Life Is a Mess”