Stardate 03/22/2023 07:25 

Flotsam And Jetsam had kind of lost most of their sweat-smelling thrash antics, that polluted their debut album a decade before 'Drift', which is their 5th full length album. Never totally breaking from their roots, the band created an album which happens to be very unique. I have never heard metal like this before or after, to tell the truth. 'Drift' is a very mature album, music- and lyrics-wise.

One can't mistake where the band come from while listening to this. Don't ask me what this "American feel" is, because I really can't put it into words. No, it is not that L.A. "rockers' dreamworld" feel here, ha! I think there's this hard rock edge to 'Drift', but not like Metallica's 'Load' (1996) and Re-Load' (1997), more like Megadeth on their 'Countdown to Extinction' (1992), and Armored Saint. Funkier parts, reminding Suicidal Tendencies' and The Organization's (ex-Death Angel and back again) groovy tendencies, strengthen that American feel.

Fast riffing is accompanied by rocking, more loose, street-wisey guitar playing. Simplistic melodies by two guitarists meant that vocalist Erik A. Knutson needed to come up with something spectacular. And he did. He has such an individual voice, absolutely fantastic I may add. His spectrum is also wide. He hits high notes without trouble, this time totally accurately and without losing any energy, but quite the opposite. He's no "helium-lung", which makes him sound real. He can also do mid-register stuff and can be a bit rough, which play an important part here. He sounds like himself, and I really can't give you any helpful clues writing down metal singers' names... You know when you hear Erik A.K. His lyrics cover life from self-projection (a lot of this) to American society, e.g. where kids "play" with guns. The lyrics are still the hardest part of this record to be understood. Funny childish drawings with hand-written lyrics, but otherwise booklet is great with its wonderful photography.

The guitars aren't lame, though. There's feeling to them. There's just not much thrash metal, if someone's waiting for that, after seeing the cover of the album. There is some heavy and ass-kicking riffing, like the opener and '12 Year Old with a Gun' show. There are also quite a lot of acoustic guitars heard, and they are always atmospheric. I wouldn't drag the term "grunge" here, but more like metal music alloyed with rock by bands such as Tesla, King's X and Filter. Nothing sugary, for sure. Still very metallic guitar soloing is another highlight, thanks to them solos being outright catchy. Were Edward Carlson and Michael Gilbert metal's most underrated guitar duo? Perhaps.

The rhythm section shines on. Pounding, travelling, even funky bass by Jason B. Ward is one of the highlights here with amazing drumming courtesy of Kelly David Smith who uses styles usually not connected with metal, and 'Destructive Signs' is a perfect specimen of that with its percussive work. The song is dreamy yet haunting, not too far from Testament's lightest songs. All in all, there's varying songs on 'Drift', but still the album has the same vibe throughout. It holds well together. Neil Kernon's production still sounds good: Powerful, airy, well-balanced and very clear, but surely too polished to some ears.

Even though the band sounds more mature than ever before, this is still energetic stuff. Much more accomplished effort than something like Anthrax's 1998 album 'Volume 8: The Threat Is Real' and Megadeth's 1999 album 'Risk', which also saw their creators break into many styles, 'Drift' is a small gem, that might be too honed for some of you metalheads, but the fact is that this is extremely unique album. This needs an open mind, but rewards are big. With 'Drift', Flotsam And Jetsam succeeded in doing it differently. Even today, 'Drift' surprises me every now and then.

Rating: 8 (out of 10) ratings explained

Reviewed by Lane
10/12/2020 21:24

Related websites:
The official Flotsam And Jetsam website ::

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Flotsam And Jetsam

album cover
1. Me (03:17)
2. Empty Air (03:49)
3. Pick a Window (03:47)
4. 12 Year Old with a Gun (03:29)
5. Missing (05:56)
6. Blindside (03:35)
7. Remember (03:45)
8. Destructive Signs (04:54)
9. Smoked out (06:07)
10. Poet's Tell (03:55)
= 00:42:34
MCA Records, Inc. 1995

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Band Biography