Flotsam and Jetsam


Flotsam and Jetsam initially showed a lot of promise within thrash metal circles and, though they’ve continued to record over the past 15 years, their talent and professionalism never quite translated into significant sales or mainstream recognition. Formed in Arizona by vocalist Eric A. K., guitarists Michael Gilbert and Edward Carlson, bassist Jason Newsted, and drummer Kelly David-Smith, Flotsam and Jetsam were part of the second wave of thrash bands. After signing with Metal Blade Records, they recorded their rough, but ambitious 1986 debut, Doomsday for the Deceiver, which betrayed a huge Metallica influence. Ironically, the metal giants would soon recruit Newsted to replace bassist Cliff Burton, who had recently died in a tragic tour bus crash.
In another strange twist, Flotsam and Jetsam then signed with Metallica’s label Elektra, for whom they recorded their second album, 1988’s No Place for Disgrace, with new bassist Troy Gregory. Despite losing their principal lyricist and an important songwriter in Newsted (who was kind enough to leave a few contributions behind), the album managed to improve slightly upon their first and featured an interesting cover of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” Though the band supported the record by touring relentlessly, all their efforts barely made a dent in the now crowded thrash scene.
Switching to MCA, the band issued three more albums (1990’s When the Storm Comes Down, 1992’s Cuatro, and 1995’s Drift) which sold progressively less and added little to their original thrash metal recipe. Bassist Gregory departed to join Prong after the first of these and was replaced by Jason Ward. Finding themselves back on Metal Blade, the band finally broke the mold (too little, too late) and recorded their most original album in 1997’s High, the last to feature Gilbert and David-Smith. 1999’s Unnatural Selection featured their replacements, guitarist Mark Simpson and drummer Craig Nelson.

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