Flotsam & Jetsam have been a revolving door of band members over the last seven years- longtime member Kelly Smith was replaced by Jason Bittner 7 years ago, then Bittner was traded out for current drummer Ken Mary 3 years later, then a mere 8 months ago Bill Bodily replaced Michael Spencer on the bass. Regardless of who’s in the band at any given time though, F&J have nevertheless managed to keep their position as one of the most precise, hard-hitting bands in thrash and their 14th full-length Blood In The Water is no exception. They come out the gate blazing with the opening title track, a ripping precedent of fierce footwork, gnarly riffing and timeless Dio-esque vocals continued on “Burn the Sky” and “Brace for Impact”.
Continuing on with the all-too-familiar gallops of “A Place to Die” and “The Walls”, Flotsam reiterate their refined, crucial ability to keep thrash in its purest essence alive with a fresh approach and production; a refreshing quality evident throughout the record. “Cry For the Dead” oscillates between slow and stringy and mid-tempo and mighty, losing no heaviness along the way as evident with “The Wicked Hour” and “Too Many Lives”. “Grey Dragon” calls back sonically to “Brace for Impact” with an Iron-Maiden-with-double-bass flare, contrasted by the downtuned bent of “Reaggression” and somewhat paralleled by the old-meets-new-school “Undone”. “Seven Seconds ’Til the End of the World” perfectly suits as a closer, providing one last undistilled shot of unrelenting thrash to round the record out- a ripper as earworm-y (in the chorus at least) as it is fiery and aggressive.
Flotsam & Jetsam can count Blood In The Water as another feather in their cap- a sharply-executed demonstration of ferocity and technical prowess that perfectly exemplifies thrash in 2021 without compromising its foundations. There’s a reason Flotsam is hailed as one of the best bands outside of the genre’s Big 4, and this record among previous recent releases should make that clear.