Sunday, September 18, 2011
Flotsam and Jetsam - Doomsday for the Deceiver: Part 3 in a 10-part series looking back at the best thrash metal albums of 1986
My original plan for this series was to chronicle the 10 best thrash metal albums of 1986. Each post was going to coincide with the 25th anniversary of each album's original release date and feature interviews with band members or people involved with the making of the album. Well, as the old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
As it turns out, finding accurate release dates for 25-year-old albums is a little trickier than it sounds, even in this age of information overload. For example, depending on the source, Megadeth's Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? came out in either July, October or November of 1986. Then there's the difficulty of actually tracking down interviews. Some of the bands featured in this series don't have readily available contact information on their websites, aren't currently on a label and/or don't even exist anymore. But hey, I promised you guys a 10-part series, and I plan on following through with that, even if a few of the posts don't have interviews or accurate release dates.
That said, for Part 3, I'll take a look back at Flotsam and Jetsam's landmark debut album, Doomsday for the Deceiver, which was allegedly released sometime in July of 1986. I actually managed to hunt down F&J vocalist Eric A.K. on Facebook and he agreed to an e-mail interview. I e-mailed him some questions, but he never wrote back or responded to follow-up e-mails or Facebook messages. I also thought it would've been cool to interview original bassist Jason Newsted, but I was unable to find contact info for him. So in lieu of interviews, this post will simply feature me waxing poetic about the album.
While the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and Germany were the main breeding grounds for thrash metal in the genre's infancy, by the time 1986 rolled around, thrash bands were popping up all over the U.S. and the rest of the world. Here in the Valley of the Sun, the thrash scene was spearheaded by two bands - Sacred Reich and Flotsam and Jetsam. The latter's 1986 debut album, Doomsday for the Deceiver, was significant for several reasons. It was the only F&J album to feature founding bassist Jason Newsted before his departure to Metallica. In true Spinal Tap "these go to 11" fashion, it was the first album to ever receive a 6K rating from respected UK hard rock/metal magazine Kerrang! (although curiously, it didn't even make the magazine's year-end Top 20 album list, according to this link). Also, it kicks fucking ass.
From the opening track, "Hammerhead," through the album-closing "Flotzilla," Doomsday for the Deceiver was an all-out thrash assault and certainly qualifies as one of the genre's most polished debut albums. Eric A.K.'s operatic vocals were a change of pace from the typically gruff delivery of his thrash metal peers, but they worked perfectly as a nod to NWOBHM bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden that served as early influences on the genre. The riffs come fast and furious courtesy of guitarists Ed Carlson and Michael Gilbert, with most songs proceeding at breakneck speed and nary a power ballad in sight.
Based on the strength of Doomsday -- and, presumably, the exposure gained from Newsted joining Metallica -- the band was signed by Elektra Records, becoming labelmates with the band that had poached their bassist. They released the equally excellent No Place for Disgrace in 1988, but after the less impressive When the Storm Comes Down in 1990 and the subsequent rise of grunge, interest in the band waned.
Still, Flotsam and Jetsam soldiered on throughout the '90s and the aughts, consistently putting out new material as many of their '80s thrash brethren fell by the wayside. Their 10th and latest album, The Cold, was released in September 2010.
Read about the other great thrash albums of 1986:
Part 1: Metallica - Master of Puppets
Part 2: Destruction - Eternal Devastation