Something Else! sneak peek: Flotsam and Jetsam, “Ugly Noise” (2013)

Thrashers Flotsam and Jetsam announced recently that they’d returned to their former label Metal Blade Records for the release of their self-produced 11th album Ugly Noise. Along with the announcement came a sneak peek at the title track, and I’m even more intrigued about this album than I initially was.

Of course, Ugly Noise is already in the hands of some fans. The band used a pledge system to record the album, and those who pledged a certain amount received an electronic copy of it when it was self-released in late 2012. For those of us who didn’t pledge, this is the first time to hear something more significant than a few short clips, and the song is everything I’d hoped for from those clips.

The song opens with a big, banging piano and slowly builds as the drums and guitars come in and vocalist Eric “AK” Knutson delivers his first line. It’s very reminiscent of 1995’s Drift, which just happens to be my absolute favorite Flots album. Then, we get a tight thrash riff under the verse before it drops back to the piano for a bridge and back to the thrash riff for the chorus. There are a lot of the more progressive elements of Drift on the song, which are really great to hear. It does leave much to be desired in the lyrical department as most of the song revolves around that bridge and the “ugly noise and beautiful lies” shouts of the chorus. But who cares? The song kicks maximum ass for its four minute run time.

Original guitarist Michael Gilbert and drummer Kelly David Smith rejoin the fold for the first time since 1997. Original bassist Jason Newsted co-wrote some songs, but didn’t play on the record. The return of those guys seems to have invigorated a band that already seemed on the comeback trail with their last record, 2010’s The Cold. That album was Flotsam and Jetsam’s best work in quite some time — the first I’ve really liked since Drift – but if this song is any indication, Ugly Noise may give that album and Cuatro a run for their money.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.