Flotsam and Jetsam

Dreams of Death

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If you want to determine whether someone is a serious metal connoisseur or has a more casual interest in metal, try running certain names by him/her. It isn't unusual for folks who are only casually interested in metal to have some Metallica, Slipknot, Judas Priest, or Korn in their CD collections -- those are huge, widely publicized bands -- but when a headbanger carries on enthusiastically about a cult band like Meliah Rage, Budgie, Grief, Hellhammer, or Saint Vitus, you know you're talking to someone who lives and breathes metal. Flotsam & Jetsam are another band that appeals to headbangers who dig much deeper than the basics; although never a major name, they have maintained a small cult following. Along the way, Flotsam & Jetsam have had numerous lineup changes -- and when you're that much of a revolving door, your work can be erratic. But in a sense, Flotsam & Jetsam are like Saturday Night Live -- even if they disappoint you today, you figure they'll bounce back creatively tomorrow. This 2005 release is their first album for Crash Music and their first since 2001's My God on Metal Blade -- and while it isn't among their essential releases, it isn't bad either. This time, the thrash veterans opted to provide a concept album; everything on the 47-minute disc revolves around the theme of death-related nightmares. Dreams of Death is best enjoyed as a whole, although aggressive yet darkly melodic tracks like "Straight to Hell" and "Look in His Eyes" can be listened to individually and still have some meaning. Dreams of Death doesn't pull off the conceptual thing as well as, say, Queensr├┐che's Operation: Mindcrime -- the ultimate conceptual metal masterpiece -- but it has more ups than downs and demonstrates that Flotsam & Jetsam can still be exciting after all these years.

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