Published Jan 15, 2019For nearly four decades, thrash-metal forefathers Flotsam and Jetsam have established a vicious strain of Bay Area thrash, though they call Phoenix home. From their seminal 1986 debut, Doomsday for the Deceiver (starring pre-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted), through the '90s, with the brilliantly grunge-laden Cuatro and Drift, to the aughts, with the underrated Dreams of Death and Ugly Noise, frontman Eric "A.K." Knutson has tempered his throaty vocals to reflect the outlook of metal at the time. He stretches his full-bodied range for snarling warbles on the band's 13th album, The End of Chaos.
Openers "Prisoner of Time" and "Control" speed straight for the jugular, thanks to the relentless blast beats of new drummer Ken Mary. Having played with domesticated power metal bands Chastain, Impellitteri, and rock legend Alice Cooper, Mary shockingly raises the bar of extremity very high, and longtime guitarist Michael Gilbert shreds with a newfound intensity. The hooky choruses of "Recover" and "Prepare for Chaos" resemble newer, Belladonna-is-back Anthrax, while "Slowly Insane" and "Architects of Hate" continue the album's immediacy, with Gilbert trading licks with guitarist Steve Conley in Judas Priest-esque harmony.
The spirit of Testament is honored by "Unwelcome Surprise," and "Demolition Man" (not a Police cover) sports a definitive Armored Saint gallop. The breakneck pace of the album finally concedes slightly during the more melodic "Survive."
Frankly, this unremitting thrash will leave even seasoned followers a bit breathless, as the album could've benefited from a few mid-tempo scorchers to add variety. For fans of the band's 2016 self-titled record, Flotsam and Jetsam have improved upon that formula with The End of Chaos, proving that they are still a dynamic force among bands half their age. (AFM)