Flotsam and Jetsam are a band who have gone through several name changes, numerous line-up changes, caused uncountable arguments about what genre they can be pigeon holed in and have managed to draw this all out across the last three decades. Now they have returned after a two year break with their eleventh studio album, Ugly Noise, which was, perhaps strangely, self funded through Pledge Music.
This Phoenix born band have long since been known for their experimental nature and the difficulty to generalise what category they fit into as each album seems to follow a different style. Their last release The Cold was pretty good, which gave everyone hope that perhaps the band was pulling themselves out of a slump of a pattern of mediocre releases. Ugly Noise is definitely different from previous releases, but annoyingly, not in a good way. Arguably their best material is when they stuck to their 80s thrash routes, but unfortunately there is not much of this on offer this time around. The album opens with the title track, a simple but annoyingly catchy song which is such a watered down version of the metal these guys are capable of, it is almost offensive to the listener. Unfortunately it doesn’t get much better after this and everything starts to blend into a wash of generic, mid-paced rock. It’s not that the songs are particularly bad, they sound reminiscent of Queensriche at times, which is in itself not a negative thing, it’s just not what made Flotsam and Jetsam the band we know they can be. One track which does stand out and give me some hope for the future of these guys is Carry On, at points in the song there is a definite trash influence trying to burst through, just frustratingly never quite succeeding. The same can be said for Rabbit’s Foot which features some decent solo guitar work and a catchy chorus but again, frustratingly loses momentum during the verses. It just feels like the band has lost the oomph which made hits like No Place for Disgrace and Hammerhead so memorable.
Perhaps if you approach this record with an open mind; you might surprise yourself and enjoy it, however if you expect to hear the same ‘in your face’ metal like some of the tracks which featured on No Place For Disgrace and Dreams of Death… you will be disappointed.
Let’s just be thankful there are no more cringe worthy covers such as their 1988 cover of Elton John’s Saturday Night’s Alright in sight.