The band is formed by Newsted and Smith in Arizona in 1984 and immediately becomes a leading part of the metal scene along with Sacred Reich thanks to intense underground promotion. Two demos are issued in 1985 (Metal Shock and self-titled) and the band appears on the Metal Massacre VII sampler.
The debut is consequently released to acclaim through Metal Blade and convinced the public to take note of a new speed metal band from the USA. When Metallica recruited Newsted, the band replaced him first with Phil Rind of Sacred Reich and then Sentinel Beast's Mike Spencer. The band opened for Megadeth and Troy Gregory was in.
At this time the band signed with Elektra which, of course, was the label of Metallica. Weak sales figures meant the band was dropped and was now on MCA. This brought the early ‘90s and the band responded with a grungier sound. When in late 1999 Gregory defected to Prong, original guitarist Gilbert was welcomed back. The band, now back on Metal Blade, underwent more line-up changes with Simpson declaring his future solely as a songwriter. On the eve of a US tour in the summer of 2001 long time vocalist Eric AK decided to leave the fold as "the metal industry, has beaten me" and after twenty years he needed to make some money. AK's last show was, reportedly, the Thrash Of The Titans benefit concert for Chuck Billy where the band replaced Lääz Rockit at the last minute. Interestingly he had formed a country band earlier in the year.
In the autumn of 2001 the band, who had recruited live singer James Rivera of Helstar and Destiny's End, called a stop to its US tour due to a lack of audience. Rarely had a band chosen a moniker so appropriately.
The act regrouped for 2004 and signed a two-album contract with Crash Music. Later that summer the band, Testament, Overkill and Death Angel were announced as part of the Thrash Domination 04 Japanese tour in September. The band began writing material and entered the studio in August for an early 2005 release. Drummer Craig Nielsen described the new material as "leaps and bounds heavier than the last four records combined, definitely a return to the bands roots but still with some ambient surprises that break up all the speed riffing. There seems to be an inspired vibe going on in the writing process that is taking on a life of its own." Soon thereafter, an apparent infighting ensued and was partly waged via the band's own web forum. The group's album Dreams Of Death was issued on July 26th, 2005 through Crash Music. Crash Music also announced the release date of February 21st, 2006 for a DVD entitled Live In Japan. The DVD was filmed over three shows in Japan in January of 2005. Some of the songs included were No Place For Disgrace, Doomsday For The Deceiver, Hard On You, Nothing To Say, Hammerhead and more. Following guitarist Ed Carlson’s decision not to play with the band at the Bang Your Head Festival in 2006 original member Mike Gilbert was temporarily re-drafted into the fold. Metal Mind Productions announced the release of a new live DVD by Flotsam And Jetsam in the spring of 2008. The material entitled Once In A Deathtime featured the show recorded at the 2008 edition of the Metalmania Festival. The band signed with Driven Music, the label of ex-Korn guitarist Brian Welch. An announcement had The Cold as the title for the band’s first album for Driven Music Group, which was owned by former Korno Brian Welch. The disc was due out in February, but ended up being late nine months, and featured the returning AK. Guitarist Mark Simpson and James Rivera were in Las Vegas’ Denim And Leather as of 2009. The band played metal cover versions. In early 2010, Flotsam And Jetsam singer Eric "A.K." Knutson joined The Human Condition, which featured Sacred Reich guitarist Wiley Arnett. The band was working on a demo. Guitarist Michael Gilbert had, in the meantime, rejoined Flotsam And Jetsam after Ed Carlson ceased activities with the band. Driven Music Group next worked out a licensing deal with Nuclear Blast Records for the release of Flotsam And Jetsam's The Cold album. Nuclear Blast would handle distribution and marketing in Europe, Japan and Australia. Flotsam And Jetsam would play at Club Caradura in Mexico City, Mexico on January 14th and 15th, 2011. The band's line-up featured guitarists Michael Gilbert and Edward Carlson, who will share the stage for the first time in over a decade. In late 2011, Flotsam And Jetsam fired drummer Craig Nielsen in favour of the re-joining Kelly David Smith. Flotsam And Jetsam picked Ugly Noise as the title for a demo recording it was working on in 2012. Former band and Metallica bassist Jason Newsted was writing for the band. Flotsam And Jetsam bassist Jason Ward would not participate in the 2013 Dark Roots Of Thrash Tour with Testament, Overkill and 4ARM due to personal issues. He was temporarily replaced by Jeff Barbaree. Flotsam And Jetsam's demo, Ugly Noise was digitally issued in 2012. The band was re-signed with Metal Blade Records in 2013 and would release Ugly Noise there in 2013. Jeff Keller Management announced that “due to circumstances beyond the bands' and management’s control, the ‘Metal Apocalypse’ European tour of the bands was cancelled. The management duly offered vague consolations of 2014 shows. Flotsam And Jetsam had recently issued its independent recording, Ugly Noise, through Metal Blade. Hirax would release its new album, Immortal Legacy, March 14th, 2014 as opposed to the original date of October 22nd. Flotsam And Jetsam would release No Place For Disgrace - 2014, a re-recording of the band's second album, No Place For Disgrace, on February 14th, 2014 through Metal Blade Records. Flotsam And Jetsam parted ways with guitarist Edward Carlson and bassist Jason Ward and replaced them respectively with Steve Conley (F5) and Michael Spencer. Carlson was suffering from physical issues. Ward had left a year ago. Following recent guitar and bass player changes drummer Kelly Smith also left ostensibly to spend time caring for his family. In late autumn 2014, Flotsam And Jetsam recruited drummer Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall) to replace Kelly Smith. The band released a self-titled record in April of 2016. The band was booked for Spain’s Leyendas del Rock Festival that summer. The band was opening for Destruction in Europe in the autumn. Helstar would tour the USA in November and December of 2016 with Flotsam And Jetsam and Hatchet. Hammerfall and Flotsam And Jetsam announced they would tour North America in 2018 beginning the spring.
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM - DREAMS OF DEATH - CRASH
Despite the rumours, feuding and lack of success Flotsam And Jetsam has managed to stay together and even record a new album for a new record company. Dreams Of Death is apparently a concept album, but seeing that no one knows what the story is or particularly cares we can safely skip explanation and move on to the music.
Past a boring and wholly redundant intro the band's sound is a mixture of thrash metal, heavy metal and slow and subdued moments. The disc kicks off with some thrashing harmonic riffing in the vein of Nevermore or Heathen. A shabby production and muffled sound make the songs sound further disjointed. There is some disconnect between the vocals and music and the sound, yet the effort is clearly intended to be a pure metal effort with a lot of guitar. The vocals are in the mid-range and generally suitable, yet occasionally come across as listless. One wonders why. Overall, imagine the band circa the Cuatro album plus additional melody.
On a song by song basis the albums has too many restrained moments. In fact, the last three songs, Bathing In Red, Nascentes Morimar and Out Of Mind, are all de facto ballads. Even Childhood Hero is slow, except the tune benefits from a genuinely heavy riff. Look In His Eyes is simple in construct and rudimentary. It is mostly the first half of the album that propels the proceedings with fast and heavy thrashing and heavier rhythms.
Improve the sound, admit your limitations and ditch concept albums, get thrashing metal mad (or rocking or hard rocking or whatever you want to be) and we will talk business. In the meanwhile, there are both better albums and worse albums out there. - Ali "The Metallian"
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM - LIVE IN JAPAN DVD - CRASH MUSIC
Live In Japan is recorded in a country where the band, like many others, can actually gather a large enough crowd to provide a respectable feel and atmosphere for a live recording. It is also not much surprise in that the DVD contains many early Flotsam and Jetsam material such as No Place For Disgrace and Doomsday For The Deceiver as most crowds would likely appreciate their older material more. Live In Japan is on the shorter and less feature-packed scale of things when it comes to today’s DVD releases but that may not be a bad thing considering what can sometimes be added for the sake of lengthening a DVD. Eight songs and a music video totalling 55 minutes is all that is available here and the quality is not the best seen or heard either with the low audio and video quality making it seem like a bootleg at times. - Anna Tergel