Flotsam and Jetsam, Blood In The Water (AFM Records 2021)

The fourteenth studio album from Flotsam and Jetsam is filled with surging power cranked up and delivered at a relentless pace.

Thirty-five years in, Flotsam and Jetsam are still on the rise. In 2019 the band released The End of Chaos, an album that was bursting with intensity. Blood In The Water is every bit as ambitious and has an even bigger payoff. This is a band that keeps getting better with each passing album. The current line-up is originators Eric AK (vocals) and Michael Gilbert (guitar) who are joined by Steve Conley (guitar), William Bodily (bass), and Ken Mary (drums).

The first Flotsam and Jetsam album I heard was Drift (1995), arriving almost ten years late to the show. I have no explanation for this missing the early signals but I can say that Drift had a big impact on me. Since then I have been an avid follower, addicted to the speed and adrenaline the music conveys. Blood In The Water offers up more of what I have come to expect.

There are twelve songs on the album, starting with the title track, a ferocious eruption that wastes no time on niceties. Each successive track is a new discovery, another step up. “Brace For Impact,” for example, has a soaring lead break setting up a contemplative movement that transitions back into furious metal. “The Wicked Hour” is a speeding car hurtling out of control down a dark desert road and “Reaggression” is dedicated to pummeling your sensibilities flat.

Even when the music has a slow start on songs like “Cry For The Dead” there is still an unmistakable passion and power to them. The closer is “Seven Seconds ’Til the End Of The World,” and it is filled with dire descriptions and warnings – and high-speed metal carried away on impossible percussion. It is incredible that Flotsam and Jetsam and still creating such exciting new music. Don’t miss out. Recommended.

Blood In The Water is out now. The AFM Records shop is a good place to go, and the band has a shop as well with more music and merch.


F&J website, https://www.flotstildeath.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/flotsamandjetsam.official

AFM Records, https://shop.afm-records.de/flotsam-and-jetsam/

Flotsam and Jetsam, Blood In The Water (AFM Records 2021)

Vulture, Dealin’ Death (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Vulture comes raging back with more speed and thrash on Dealin’ Death.

It is easy to think that the best days of Thrash Metal are behind us because so many iconic albums came out all those years ago. If you look around at the music back then you find that there is a lot of bands you did not know about that made high-speed, solid, and aggressive music that somehow slipped past you. Similarly, new thrash has come out consistently over the years, and, if anything, there has been a resurgence in past lustrum or two. Vulture is a good example of new Thrash Metal that absolutely kills.

Hailing from Germany, Vulture formed only a few years ago in 2016. The demo they released in that first year was well received by fans and since then the band has issued two full-length albums, making Dealin’ Death the third long-player. Set up in the classic style of bass, drums, two guitars, and vocals, the music they create can clock in to legitimate speed freak territory whenever they feel the need.

After a nice short intro that could have been for a demonic toy movie, the thrash kicks up. In some of the songs, a rampaging juggernaut is on display while on others the tempo is not quite so frantic and the composition stretches in other directions. The narrative themes tend toward horror and mythology. When you match these ideas up with fast music the result is high-energy entertainment. Clever twists and turns lead to compositional diversity and add to the experience. This is good, fast metal that makes no massive demands of you and gives you what you want to hear.

Dealin’ Death is out this week on Metal Blade Records. Recommended.


Vulture Kills store, https://vulturekills.bigcartel.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/vulturekills

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/vulture/

Bandcamp, https://vulturekills.bandcamp.com/album/dealin-death

Vulture, Dealin’ Death (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Exarsis, Sentenced To Life (MDD Records 2020)

With their fifth album Sentenced To Life, Exarsis fulfills your need, your need for speed.

Greek band Exarsis has been flying the flag for Thrash and Speed Metal for ten years. Under Destruction was their first long-player in 2011, and since then they have been they have been lashing the shores with a new guitar tsunami every couple of years. The band is now Nick Tragakis (vocals), Chris Poulos (bass), Chris Tsitsis (guitars), and Panos Meletis (drums)

Sentenced To Life is perhaps a little more approachable to crossover fans than some of their earlier music with more emphasis on melody, but the speed is still there and it rolls you right over. They play an old school brand of Thrash, touched by the nearly forgotten style of Speed Metal. The result is a credible case for whiplash.

First up on the record is “Cen$ored,” an intro bit that starts with a crackling voiceover that is increasingly heavily bleeped and distorted on the way to the first wailing high-octane song, “Another Betrayal.” Tragakis gives us high register vocals matching up with the stunning speed of the guitar riffs and lead blasts that are so wilting your ears are a little behind on getting all the notes in.

The percussion is at pace as well, pummeling like a cavalry at full charge. You can really hear the intense drumming on songs like “The Truth Is No Defense” where it seems to defy physics. Every song has outstanding attributes and they all call out to be heard again. The ones I hit more than a couple times were “Mouthtied” for the amazing passage in the middle of the song and “Interplanetary Extermination” for its sheer blaze. Fantastic. Recommended.

Sentenced To Life could be flowing into your brain right now. It is available to buy from MDD Records through Bandcamp and you can listen on the usual variety of streaming services.


Bandcamp, https://exarsis.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/exarsis

MDD Records, https://mdd-records.de/

Exarsis, Sentenced To Life (MDD Records 2020)

Plague Years, Circle of Darkness review (eOne Music 2020)

Speed and mayhem are alive and well in Circle of Darkness, the new full-length release from Michigan metallers Plague Years.

From the beginning notes of the band’s first EP, these four Detroit musicians threw down the gauntlet in a clear sign to the world they were here to create hard, fast, crunching metal. Labeled as a crossover band, you can definitely hear Hardcore, Thrash, and Death Metal elements throughout. The new album is a continuation of 2018’s Unholy Infestation, except even faster and darker. The band on Circle of Darkness is Tim Engelhardt (vocals), Eric Lauder (guitar), Rian Staber (bass), and Mike Jurysta (drums).

There isn’t a single band to compare them to because Plague Years combines so many styles and their music shifts and moves in and across the songs in the album. They show a lot of chopping steady guitar rhythms at a mid-tempo speed in narrative moments of songs, then click into phantom blasts and thrashing ramps to sink the spikes in deeper. From the new album, songs like “Eternal Fire” rest on a modulated pace overall but have mystical lead breaks and surprising percussion eruptions that are not externalities but instead are essential elements in the composition. Flat out raging numbers are there too like “Circle of Darkness” and “Play The Victim” – and in these pieces the tempo is set high but there are also echoing ethereal moments and fascinating transition bridges.

Plague Years will get a hook into any metal fan because the range of expression and the variety of their musical appeal allows them to fit in on practically any heavy title card. Recommended.

Circle of Darkness is out this Friday, September 18. You can hear a couple singles already, and preorder the download or a hardcopy in different forms now. Their previous EP Unholy Infestation is on Spotify right now so you can go listen to that to tide you over for a couple of days

Band photo by Rian Staber.






Plague Years, Circle of Darkness review (eOne Music 2020)