My initial contact with FLOTSAM AND JETSAM was the re-release of “Cuatro”, an album that I found to be unrelentingly mediocre. It seemed that FLOTSAM were doing everything that they could to be the METALLICA that recorded the black album. The problems with this were myriad, but chief among them was the fact that they just weren’t up to the task song-wise. As a result, I found “Cuatro” to be an exercise in mid-tempo futility that would have been totally forgettable were it not for the fact that Eric A.K seemed to be having a good time.
Imagine my surprise then when the re-release of “Drift” proceeded to give me a far different view of the band.
Things get off to Punkish start with “Me”. The first thing of note here is Eric A.K’s vocals. Where previously they had been smooth and almost Prog-like, here they are much rawer and much closer to what one expects from a Thrash outfit. The unrelenting pace makes for a great opener. “Empty Air” maintains the intensity with a slower but no less enthusiastic ride. “Pick A Window” finds the band attempting to reconcile this Thrashier approach with something akin to what they were attempting on “Cuatro”, but with much better results. “12 Year Old With A Gun” has a nice driving beat undermined only slightly by some cheesy lyrics and sound effects.
“Missing” marks the album’s first big departure. From the piano in the intro to the acoustic verses, this song stands out from not only this album, but also “Cuatro”. The softer nature of the verses allows the chorus to seem much heavier than it actually is, but at close to 6 minutes, the song feels over long. The Thrash is brought back for the next pair of songs before giving way to the tasty fretless bass of “Destructive Signs”. Although somewhat low-key, it still manages to be my favorite track on the album.
“Smoked Out” manages the opposite. Even if the minute of unnecessary intro were removed, the song still manages to sound out of place. No small task when you consider what came before it.
The album, in its original form, ended on a high note with “Poet’s Tell”, a song that sounds tailor-made for a stadium. With the re-relase comes two radio edits of the album tracks “Destructive Signs” and “Smoked Out” along with a cover of SABBATH’s “Faries Wear Boots”. The cover acquits itself nicely, but the radio edits are unnecessary and add nothing to album.
“Drift” is a very good album. If you happen to be coming fresh from the rather disappointing “Cuatro”, this album is a welcome change of pace.
Guest review by Kristoffer Monfort
(Online July 1, 2008)