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Album Reviews : Flotsam and Jestam – The Cold

By on October 26, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam are famous for two things;

1. Supplying Metallica with Jason Newstead

2. Never fulfilling the potential of their early blossoming career.

For you to fully appreciate that last statement you would need to know how spectacularly average and generic Flotsam and Jetsam have been over the past two plus decades. After starting off with a bang with classic releases in Doomsday for the Deceiver and No Place for Disgrace the band has failed to fire on a consistent basis and never come close to matching their storied thrashing past. 2005’s Dreams of Death hinted at a change of fortune but was hampered by a production crippled by a budget and a vision sadly hampered by a lack of talent and execution. 5 years on and riding a wave of nostalgia created by having their back catalogue re released and remastered F&J return with easily their best most polished effort in years.

Finally armed with the tools needed to succeed the band deliver on the songs and where Dreams of Death clumsily fumbled over executing their new modern brand of metal, the Cold flourishes. Travis Smith again supplies the stunning artwork, but that’s where comparisons with their previous effort end. “Hypocrite” kicks off proceedings, a nice typical F&J heavy rocker but it’s apparent from the beginning that a little more TLC has gone into structure and delivery this time round. However its not until second track “Take” that we get to see the new style in full swing with synths and some folky elements utilised beautifully complimenting Eric A.K.’s unique powerful vocals. Now Eric has never been a world beater despite what some fans may preach but he really outdoes himself on this release taking himself and the band to a new level. The way he carries a chorus like on “Blackened Eyes Staring” and “Secret Life” is awesome and along with reinvigorated and diverse song writing help make this an absolute cracker.

Musically while taking a more modern slant, the band still manage to maintain their personality and aren’t afraid to mix up the old and new. Riffs recycled from the 80s sit nicely along side Nevermore esque rumble and Reroute to Remain keyboard noodling. Solos are abundant throughout and if this is Ed Carlson’s final fling than he bows out with a bang. Sound wise with Eric’s vocals and F&Js heavy thrash style of the 90s they have always shared an interesting parallel with Channel Zero and to this day they are still the only band I would use as a reference point when trying to describe their ‘sound’.

Many older bands in recent times have failed to successfully reinvent themselves, become irrelevant to their original fan base or never been able to top their first few releases. In Flotsam and Jetsam’s case all three of these points apply which is what makes The Cold so much more satisfying. That a band can come out some 25 years later, after suffering all the setbacks, all the failed expectation and deliver an album this good and this fresh is inspirational. If you like your metal and appreciate a well executed tune then you cant go past this release. Heres to hoping that the band finally get the recognition they deserve and metalheads everywhere will give one  of the original old dogs of thrash another chance in their rotation. 8/10

Artist: Flotsam and Jetsam
Album: The Cold
Year: 2010
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Driven Music Group
Origin: Arizona, USA

Track listing:
1. Hypocrite
2. Take
3. The Cold
4. Black Cloud
5. Blackened Eyes Staring
6. Better Off Dead
7. Falling Short
8. Always
9. K.Y.A
10. Secret Life


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.