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Flotsam and Jetsam


Flotsam and Jetsam (1984-present): a Thrash Metal band from Phoenix, Arizona, USA.


hat would become Flotsam and Jetsam originally tried several names, including, Paradox (1981-1982), Dredlox (1982-1983) and Dogz (1983-1984) before settling on the current incarnation.

David Kelly (drums) and Jason Newstead (bass) started off the operation by recruiting Eric A.K. Knutson (vocals), Mike Gilbert (guitar) and Ed Carlson (guitar) to start their dream band, Flotsam And Jetsam. The group recorded tracks for a couple of compilation albums, including Speed Metal Hell II and Metal Massacre IV and Metal Massacre VII before signing to 'Roadrunner'. Their debut, Doomsday For The Deceiver (1986), was warmly received by the thrash metal press who claimed that they were destined for greatness like their contemporaries Testament and Exodus.

It wasn't long before dark clouds collected over their parade for later that year Newstead left to join Metallica to replace the recently deceased Cliff Burton. Troy Gregory (ex-Prong) filled Newstead's shoes by the time No Place For Disgrace (1988) on major label 'Elektra' came about. The album contributed little to their once burgeoning style and flapped uselessly in the wind against their competition, including Metallica and others. An ill advised cover tune of Elton John's Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting was launched as a single, and then being dropped from their label didn't help either. They did, however, get caught up in the usual and predictable major label attempts to cash in on musical styles when 'MCA' grabbed them and funded two albums, When The Storm Comes Down (1990) and Cuatro (1993), the former seeing Jason Ward taking the newly vacant bass position. Predictably the company was served right for picking up such a marginal operation as Flotsam & Jetsam with the albums failing to generate anything new musically or fulfill the commercial expectations of 'MCA'.

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After Flotsam and Jetsam completed their tour with Megadeth and Korn, they were forced to downscale their business relations by switching to 'Metal Blade', where they continued to produce, what many believe to be second rate old-school thrash metal directed toward their diehard fans. High (1997) followed, with Unnatural Selection (1999) seeing Smith and Gilbert replaced by Mark T. Simpson and Craig Neilson respectively. Their next, My God (2001), saw Eric A.K. leaving and temporarily replaced by James Rivera (ex-Destiny's End/ex-Hellstar) for the tour, he would return after, however.

Between 2002-2006 the band were active only sporadically and released a set of live and compilation albums. The Unnatural Selection/High compilation would follow in 2002, along with Dreams of Death (2005) and Live in Phoenix live album (2005).

Doomsday for the Deceiver would be re-released in November 2006 by 'Metal Blade Records' to celebrate that album's twentieth anniversary. The set (2 CD and DVD) would feature the original recording of Doomsday for the Deceiver and a re-mixed and digitally re-mastered version. It also included the two Flotsam and Jetsam demos. The bonus DVD included rare live material, an interview filmed at Kelly's High School and a photo slide-show.

Spring of 2008 would see 'Metal Mind Productions' remaster and re-release When the Storm Comes Down, Cuatro (including 5 bonus tracks), Drift (including 3 bonus tracks) and Dreams of Death. No Place for Disgrace, however, could not be remastered due to existing legal issues between the band and a former label 'Elektra Records'. Also in 2008 the Once in a Deathtime live album would follow and be accompanied by a same titled video that same year.

Finally, in 2010 another studio album would emerge in the form of The Cold. Unfortunately, in mid 2011, Craig Neilson departed, soon after Mark Simpson. Former drummer and founder of Kelly David Smith was asked to rejoin for the release of Ugly Noise (2012).

Jason Ward was no longer able to commit to touring with the band any further due to his current personal commitments. During that tour, 70000 Tons of Metal, Carlson started to have pain in his lower back and numbness in his right arm. After the tour, an MRI revealed that he had bulging disks in his upper and lower back causing the discomfort. The band recruited guitarist Steve Conley of F5 to step in while they completed their live commitments.

Michael Spencer would assume the bass slot for No Place for Disgrace 2014 (2014), while Jason Bittner assumed drums on the self-titled Flotsam and Jetsam (2016). The drum slot would go vacant again when Bittner left to join Overkill, until Ken Mary ex-(Alice Cooper, House of Lords, TKO, Fifth Angel, Chastain, Impellitteri) stepped in for the release of The End of Chaos (2019). Bill Bodily assumed bass for Blood in the Water (2021).

Footnote: "Flotsam" and "jetsam" are nautical terms. Items washed overboard by waves are called "flotsam". Items deliberately thrown overboard by a ship's crew are called "jetsam".

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