Flotsam and Jetsam - No Place For Disgrace 2014 - (7/10)
Published on March 3, 2014
Like Forbidden, Heathen, and Sacred Reich, Flotsam and Jetsam have had a resurgence in the last few years. In that context, a re-release of the awesome No Place For Disgrace, the first without Jason Newsted, makes total sense. I would love a documentary and some live footage. But instead, the band decided to re-record NPFD and call it No Place For Disgrace 2014. With most re-recorded albums, you expect a bigger, more dynamic sound, and maybe even different tempos for variety’s sake. No Place for Disgrace 2014 improves the sound, somewhat, changes some parts here and there, but more or less is the exact same album.
The Flotsam and Jetsam sound is speed metal at its purest. Unlike some of their contemporaries, Flotsam had consistent execution of chops along with speed, granted less speed than the truly extreme thrash bands of that era. Clean guitar solos and a truly great singer in “AK” Knutson have made Flotsam a truly musical band, exhibited by the first hit off of the original NPFD, a cover of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting).” Where the original Flotsam cover was more of a “metal” interpretation of the song, the 2014 version is more “pop.” Of all the tracks, it is the most altered. Some of the technical improvements in playing are nice. AK’s vocals are more refined, but almost shackled in comparison. Personally, I love the thickness and brutality of modern production, so to me, the drums lack power and the guitars are scratchy, which takes away from the really monumental energy this record could have if it had been given a proper treatment. In fact, it makes the album sound suspiciously similar to its 1988 original. After a while, I forgot I was listening to a new album. I know metal fans defend original recordings as the one and only savior, but if we’re going to have a re-recording for the sake of “better” sound, at least make it feel different enough. Otherwise, a plain old remaster would do just fine.
Is a re-recording, or even a remaster, ever really necessary? I would say not, metal fans are not that critical, especially of established bands and classic albums. And bands respect their fans and their own music enough to create something independent from the original, rather than in place of it. Let There Be Blood is probably a good example of a re-recording done correctly. The album has a modern sound, with thicker guitars and heavier drums, and, perhaps more importantly, some different musicians and different music along with them. In that instance, because Exodus have changed their sound with time, re-recording an album, even as timeless as Bonded, makes sense, and it was damn good. NPFD 2014 is good too, but so was NPFD 1988. Did we need this? Probably not. But it does more good than harm, and if anything it’s great to see that after all these years, these thrashers can still throw down like they’re teenagers.