Welp, it’s no secret how much I did NOT like the last FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, the 2016 self-titled record. Aw Hell, who are we kidding, I hated that thing!! And I wrote a pretty scathing review. But you guys know how we get down here at A&GS. If we love something we’ll shout it from the rooftops. And if we don’t like/absolutely hate something…we’ll shout it from the rooftops!! I never got any shit for it because let’s face it, we’re not exactly swimming in readers, are we? And even if we were I will defend my opinions to the death where necessary. Which brings me to brand new release The End of Chaos (January 18, AFM Records). The music sounds better, the band sounds better, everything sounds better. What a difference!
The songs have much more of a flow to them, there is melody in spades, while at the same time the heaviness is in abundance. The guitar duo of Michael Gilbert and Steve Conley keep it good and thrashy while also channeling the twin axe fluidity of some of metal’s founding fathers. As soon as leadoff track “Prisoner of Time” kicked in I knew we were in for a good time. Vocalist Eric “A.K.” Knutson really flexes his considerable muscle on “Architects of Hate” and the band goes on an all-out Thrash Attack with “Control.” Not surprisingly, these are two of the album’s best cuts. The same can be said for “Recover,” which has a relentless push and pull to it and a supersized chorus to go with the masterful guitar work.
The hits keep on comin’ with another winner in “Prepare For Chaos” which might just be my favorite in terms of riffage and big hooks. Drummer Ken Mary knows just what to play and when, and bassist Michael Spencer is an anchoring force on this one. “Slowly Insane” is another song that manages to be catchy as Hell while still maintaining the necessary brutality, and features what sounds like two flamethrowers burning buildings to the ground guitar-wise. I know people are divided on “Demolition Man” but I definitely like it, especially on the choruses. “Unwelcome Surprise” is off to the fucking races and is arguably the heaviest and fastest fucker on this disc. But unfortunately the next two, “Snake Eyes” and “Survive” really do nothing for me. NEXT!!
Closer “The End” takes us home in furious fashion, the whole band going for the home run ball. Do they quite get there? Let’s just say the song is more of a ground rule double. But overall I have to admit, I really, really like this record. I know, I’m as surprised as you. I had written FLOTSAM AND JETSAM off in 2016, but with The End of Chaos they might just make a believer out of me. Stranger things have happened. I mean, last year I finally got onboard with putting mayo on my sandwiches, so anything is possible, right? But hey, don’t take my word for it, go get your copy on January 18, and then maybe pick yourself up a sandwich from your local deli…with mayo, of course!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Prepare For Chaos”, “Unwelcome Surprise”, “Architects of Hate”, “Control”, “Slowly Insane”, “Recover”