Flotsam & Jetsam Ugly Noise

Flotsam & Jetsam Ugly Noise
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Having shaken the tag of "the band that gave Jason Newsted to Metallica" decades ago, Flotsam and Jetsam have certainly never feared operating outside of traditional thrash boundaries. Settling on a mainstreamed rock/metal sound for 1992's iconic Cuatro, frontman Erik "A.K." Knutson and company have constantly tweaked that formula over the years, hoping to grab metal's elusive brass ring. Ugly Noise is their 11th studio album and the first to feature their classic Cuatro line-up in 16 years. Matching Jason Ward's galloping bass note for note, guitarists Ed Carlson and Michael Gilbert step up their shred game on "Gitty Up" and "Carry On," though they know when to rein in the aggression for more melodic tones on the ballad-like "Run and Hide" and "Rabbits Foot." Gilbert reportedly collaborated with Newsted on several songs, and surely one of them is the must-hear "Play Your Part," which stays true to '90s metal, as Knutson sounds like a cross between Dream Theater's James LaBrie and Anthrax's Joey Belladonna. However, the band dip back into their thrash beginnings on the vicious "Rage," while "To Be Free" features Carlson and Gilbert's Judas Priest-esque dual axes as a thoughtful throwback to 1986's Doomsday for the Deceiver. Album closer "Machine Gun" spotlights Kelly Smith's fancy footwork in kicking out the song's titular throb. Still mixing the crunch of Metal Church with a heavy dash of Galactic Cowboys' pop, the Flots continue to make significant Ugly Noise well into the 21st century. (Metal Blade)