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Not only is No Place for Disgrace my favorite album in the entire Flotsam and Jetsam legacy, but it's another of those many 1988 classics which arrived at precisely the proper time to augment and evolve the genre beyond the cruder, often unrefined aesthetics of its earliest expressions. Not that there was anything wrong with those timeless, primal thrashing roots, but this Arizona quintet's welcome application of melodic/power metal riffing patterns and the higher pitched, unique tone of front man Eric A.K. Knutson added an epic, itinerant nuance to the palm muted chugging and aggression which many US acts were settling upon, and No Place for Disgrace put the band well beyond fellow statesman Atrophy and Sacred Reich who had shepherded meatier, violent sounds (though to be fair, both of those bands were once quite great in their own right).
This record also heralded the band's transition from the young Metal Blade to the major label circuit via Elektra Records, following their former bassist Jason Newsted. He had left Flotsam for the coveted and difficult role of replacing Cliff Burton in Metallica, who were pretty much the biggest band in the land at the time coming off Master of Puppets, at least for this style of epic speed/thrash architecture. I'm sure this connection must have had something to do with the signing, but Flotsam and Jetsam were no 'also ran'. Newsted was still involved with some of the writing of this album, specifically "I Live You Die", "N.E. Terror" and the title track, and as anyone who had heard Doomsday for the Deceiver knew, his own shoes were also pretty hard to fill, as his muscular chops and performance were one of the clear strong points of the debut. In flew Troy Gregory, no slouch himself, but perhaps a part victim to what I'd consider the one gaping flaw in what is otherwise a tremendous sophomore: the production.
Metal Blade in houses Bill Metoyer, who had coincidentally worked with those other Arizonan bands I mentioned, as well as took part in the Doomsday sessions, was at the helm here, and he's credited with both production and engineering. The guy's somewhat of a legend himself, and certainly he's got an impressive track record through the 80s (scan his credentials and then try to conceal your ensuing metal erection), but No Place for Disgrace is not one of his finer hours. The mix is admittedly clear, and not constrained enough through its faults to hinder the nearly 25 years of enjoyment I've derived from the album, but there were some problems. For one, the guitar tone was far too crisp and crunchy. For the flightier, rapid melodies it worked well enough, but the heavier breakdown elements used in songs like "Hard On You" and instrumental finale "The Jones" would have been better served with something smoother.
Also, the bass tone, which had been really robust on the debut, seems a bit too thin for Gregory's lines. Overall, the drums and vocals had an airier presence to them which was not so compact as or level as Master of Puppets or Reign in Blood, yet suitable to the more melodic use of the vocal sequences and the spry picking sequences. The clean guitar segments like the intro to "Escape from Within" or the bridge to "No Place for Disgrace" also feel a little flimsy, a pity because the actual writing of the guitars is unflinchingly memorable. Otherwise, it's not a bad mix, but even Doomsday for the Deceiver was stronger in this area. I'm not sure if it was due to temporal constraints, misunderstandings or disagreements between the band and various studio staff, or just that their vision didn't agree with my ears, but I always felt that an album coming out on a fairly big deal imprint like Elektra could have sounded better even in '88; and I wonder if this was not partially responsible for the band not reaching the audience it deserved.
Otherwise, No Place for Disgrace was completely off the hook, and anyone committing seppuku upon its release would have been robbing themselves of years of headbanging enjoyment. The songs here were among the best composed for their day, and the pacing of the album as a whole is just another reminder why I loved this late 80s period. Dynamic tempos abound here, with only a few instances where they retread themselves. Blazing leads and melodic picking patterns which are almost invariably unforgettable, and what is by far the most exciting performance from Eric A.K., if not the richest or most rounded. Where his screams were often rather silly sounding on the first album, here they just seem to hit that perfect siren pitch where glass might shatter out of sheer reverence, like that one he pulls out in the center of "Dreams of Death" or the escalating, vaulted heights in "I Live You Die". Knutson sounds like he is literally being forced to sit on some Judas Chair, and he lends each of the 9 vocal tracks this aggressive desperation so well matched to the force of the music itself.
Also, the fucking guitars! I doubt I could find a single riff on this whole disc which couldn't pass muster, from the shrill, gladiatorial dual melodies rifling through "I Live You Die" to the muted triplets of "Dreams of Death" to that immortal melody inaugurating "No Place for Disgrace" itself with a very Maiden vibe. Edward Carlson and Michael Gilbert were simply loaded with ideas, and their constant runs up and down the necks of their guitars were structured and inspired from a mesh of thrash and traditional/speed metal influences not limited to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or the Bay Area elephant in everyone's room. Even the muted mosh instrumental "The Jones", tucked conveniently away at the close of the album manages to score points, morphing from chugging pit hymns to ghostly melodies and back again. I can remember a time when you'd hear so much of this novel, exciting composition in the field, in fact you could reliably expect it in most cases, and No Place for Disgrace stands alongside other masterworks like Sabbat's History of a Time to Come, Scanner's Hypertrace, Riot's Thundersteel and Realm's Endless War as an example of ephemeral enlightenment where axes and charismatic vocals collided.
Even the lyrics and subject matter feel epic on this thing, from the non-judgmental harakiri anthem ("No Place to Disgrace") to authoritarian corruption ("N.E. Terror") to the mother fucking gladiatorial epoch of ancient Rome ("I Live You Die"). They take one of the better stabs in recollection at the whole music censorship/PMRC scenario of the late 80s in "Hard On You", with that amazing and threatening chorus of 'if you're hard on us, we're gonna be hard on you!', Knutson transforming into a living embodiment of the First Amendment. Flotsam also brought us one of the finer thrash covers of a classic rock tune in memory with Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", surprisingly loyal aside from the few instances where they supplant terms like 'rock' and 'dolly' with 'mosh' and 'bitch', and the 'drink' of the original is given a label in 'Jack'. In retrospect, it might seem like an incredibly cheesy idea, but here's a case where the execution is so razor sharp that it might still cut you decades later.
Ultimately, No Place is the pinnacle of achievement for the band, something they've never since been able to either reproduce or rival with any of their subsequent mutations. Perfectly written but imperfectly captured to audio, advanced in every way over its predecessor (a decent album in its own right, but not nearly so impressive) aside from the breadth of the bass and guitars. I still feel just as excited when I hear this today as I was when I was 14, angrily delivering the daily newspapers to my neighborhood, Walkman cranked to maximum to shut out the world around me as my unformed mind sorted through both the onslaught of puberty and geekier escapes. It kicked my ass in hard, like a bunch of thrash bullies hanging out on your corner, ready and willing to mete punishment and build character in their victims. If you've never experienced it, then I look forward to seeing similar imprints on your own posterior in the years to come. I promise not to stare and make it awkward.
And that's simply managing to punch out another album that ranks up to their debut, not an easy task at all. Flots & Jets will forever be one of my top favorite thrash bands simply for the fact that they were one of the bands that cemented my passion for thrash when I first dove into the genre, along with such bands like Heathen, Artillery, Whiplash, Overkill's debut, etc. Also just like the previous bands mentioned (aside from Overkill, even though they were ahead of their time), Flots & Jets were one that really took their own spin on the whole thrash thing. This isn't more Exodus Bay Area stuff and it's certainly not influenced by Kreator or anything from the German side of things, it's speedy, incredibly melodic at times, and just all around its own entity. While their debut was something more comparable to speed metal layered with thrash and traditional elements that all fit perfectly, the focus is definitely more geared towards the violent thrashing here.
Just like its predecessor, the overall "tone" to this album is just downright evil at times and rather dark. Maybe not quite like Slayer's stuff or whatever (just an example), but this is definitely pretty damn "metal" and often gives off somewhat of a frightening vibe. Though the production is a little murky and might take time getting used too. It's not like the issue is that it's "thin", that's definitely not the case and you'll be able to see that right off the bat with the monstrous riffs on the first track. The main issue is that everything kind of sounds like it's twisting around in a small blender, but it probably won't bother most. Essentially I'd love to see this get the treatment that their debut got, with a 20th anniversary remaster that patches up these slight issues.
Eric "A.K." Knutson might be the antagonist here for some. Basically, just like their debut his vocals are very melodic and crystal clear, but he again displays that even these kinds of vocalists can still unleash fury and aggression themselves (and to be honest he sounds even more evil here than on the debut). Some thrash fans might not like it, but I can't imagine Flots & Jets first two albums any other way. Personally I'd say Knutson was one of the finest melodic singers in thrash, beating out Toxic's Mike Sanders, Realm's Mark Antoni, and so forth. A big reason being because he had a more dynamic approach to the vocals, so they're changed up quite a bit. Simply put if you enjoy the classic 80's screaming vocalist with the ability to send out soaring epic shrieks, or just totally loved Knutson on the debut, you'll once again enjoy the vocals here.
Yet again the band displays themselves as a single indestructible force. As the songwriting here is really incredible and every member is far from your average joe. The more infamous Jason Newsted isn't around anymore, but what better replacement than Troy Gregory. Flots & Jets gives the bass its rightful mix and does an incredible job at balancing everything around it, if you wanted to hear some awesome bass work Flots & Jets were always one of those bands you needed to check out right away. Kelly David Smith is back on drums and gives off a powerfully dynamic performance, speed and complex structures were no obstacle for him. Finally there's guitarists Michael Gilbert and Edward Carlson, when it came to leads you just didn't mess with these guys. There's also a lot of moments on this album with those rare middle eastern styled rhythms and leads, towards the end of the solo's on NE Terror and then there's I Live You Die which almost sounds like something Artillery would've written for By Inheritance. Why were these kinds of guitars hard to come by (and still pretty much are)? They're totally unforgettable and just kick countless amounts of ass. The entire album is riddled with tons of solo's and leads and at times, some of the songs sound like they're completely lead driven which is always more than impressive.
The album itself is absolutely killer through and through, right off the bat you've got some of the coolest leads I've ever heard with the intro for No Place For Disgrace, some that'd make even the mighty Conan shiver in his boots. This song is just an utter monster, a train wreck of riffs, with a slower segment that showcases Knutson's skills. The tank continues its onslaught with the infamous Dreams of Death (becoming the title of one of their newer albums), this song along with the previous one and even the next song also slows down a bit towards the end, allowing for an insanely cool buildup and crazy shredding. NE Terror is an incredibly varied song and one that'll probably stick after the first time hearing it, the slower droggy segments make it out to be one of the darkest tracks on the list here. The next two tracks Escape From Within and the Elton John cover Saturday Night Alright for Fighting slow things down a bit and in my opinion, I'm not sure what to think of the Elton John cover. Maybe I'd appreciate it more if they placed it at the end of the album, I don't know but it does sound a little odd in the middle of the road. After this it's back to relentless thrashing with I Live You Die quite possibly being my favorite pick here, as I stated before this one has some strong middle eastern styled influences to it that makes it really memorable. Only to be followed up by yet another classic track, Misguided Fortune containing one of the best slower parts on the entire album, with some insanely majestic and soothing leads that'll take you out of this world.
The whole album is just a beast and I also apologize for making so many connections to the debut in this review but basically, if you like this album or their debut and haven't heard the other, it's absolutely essential to check out the one you're missing right away. Both are thrash classics and truly an interesting milestone in the whole genre, as there just wasn't a whole lot out there quite like them. Thrash with quite a melodic focus didn't get much better than this.
This is one of the very first thrash metal CDs I bought after having heard “Dreams Of Death” song on the mighty Stars On Thrash compilation(1988). I immediately loved this group and at the time I was just 14 years old. Several years have passed but the love I feel for this beautiful album has never gone away and always reminds me beautiful times.
Hearing the melodic break in the title track or the melodic solos is a thing that’s yet stuck in my heart. The riffs are always fast but with a very personal touch, especially in the distortion. Unique. The vocals are yet immature but, in my opinion, perfect for the genre and none can complain about the singer's skills…to me he was one of the best voices at the time in thrash. The chorus in “Dreams Of Death” are great and the tempos were always catchy and fast.
The technique level is always very high for each player in this group and the speed of execution makes difficult parts seem so easy…the palm muting guitar riffs are compact and precise, along with excellent fast/technical solos. The beginning of “N.E. Terror” is truly fast with lots of stop’n’go and tempo changes always at the speed of light. Dynamic. With the melodic arpeggio to “Escape From Within” I think we reach the top in songwriting. It's awesome in its sad feeling…this is the classic song that more or less every thrash metal album featured at the time: melodic intro, then fast guitars, again melody and then fast riffs with lots of solos.
The atmosphere has become more introspective but with the cover “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” the tempos and the melodies are “happier” and again typical thrash. One of the best covers ever. The intro part to “Hard On You” is one of the gloomiest here with the always pounding bass sound and vocals at their best.
After a more mid paced song, now it’s time for a thrash attack with “I Live You Die” (the title explains everything…). “Misguided Fortune” is again awesome in speed during the refrain: punkish up tempo followed by fast bass kicks.
To end this AWESOME thrash metal album we have got the head crush of “P.A.A.B.” and the strange, instrumental “The Jones” with an extremely catchy main riff. This is one of the most overlooked masterpieces of the thrash metal genre, a thrash made of technique, passion and great music. Get it, along with Doomsday For The Deceiver. Two masterpieces in a row!!
Most notable difference with their earlier debut album ‘Doomsday for the Deceiver’ is the fact that the speed metal / thrash metal balance has shifted slightly with thrash metal taking the upper hand. This is mostly riff wise by the way. Vocally Erik A.K. remains an aggressive speed metal singer and there is still a lot of melody to be found on ‘No Place for Disgrace’. As far as I remember there were only three on ‘No Place…’ songs co-written by Newsted before he left and the band clearly had no trouble writing 7 new excellent tunes as well.
Opening title track is the best song. Apart from the very thrashy up tempo verses and the catchy powerful chorus, including strong backing vocals, the song has a great intro melody and a very laid back melodic middle section with nice vocal lines, clean guitars, followed by a beautiful solo. ‘Dreams Of Death’ is a little rougher, but still has so many good riffs and is easily catchy enough (especially the ‘wake Up’ pre-chorus) to uphold the level of quality.
Another highlight is the lengthy power ballad ‘Escape from Within’. A very dynamic song that slowly builds up, rages at times and has some very good leads and licks. The Elton John cover ‘Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting’ is surprisingly good and for some reason doesn’t feel odd. Of course it IS different. It’s very heavy rock ‘n roll.
‘I Live You die’ is a familiar old demo track. I still love that ultimate thrash metal break after the solo with Erik shouting ‘I live….. you DIEEEE’. Glad they re-recorded this great song. Last but not least worth mentioning individually is ‘Misguided Fortune’ which has a great mid paced intro with an extremely enjoyable squeaky riff. The chorus is very thrash metal (group vocals shouting the title) and catchy in the vein of the song Fade To Black (Doomsday for The Deceiver). The song has a clean middle section which is heavily inspired by Maiden’s Powerslave.
Ohw, I should also mention the superb riff in P.A.A.B. which starts at 1:10 minutes. The middle section of this song however is too stretched therefore it’s one of my less favourite tunes here. I cannot imagine my thrash metal collection without ‘No Place for Disgrace’. Possession of this album is mandatory.
Classics: ‘No Place for Disgrace, ‘Dreams of Death’, ‘Escape From Within, ‘I Live You Die’ and ‘Misguided Fortune’
Flotsam And Jetsam were, along with some other Bay Area thrash acts, a relatively underrated band. Mostly known for Jason Newsted who was their driving force before he went to Metallica, this band also had great music. Nice catchy thrash, great lyrics (check out N.E. Terror, one of the best thrash lyrics out there), very good vocal performance from Eric A.K... He can really sing! He's good at slow, mellow parts and awesome at menacing thrashing. Nice solos, good druming, some original riffs... So, what else could you want?
There really isn't much off cuts on this one. Maybe The Jones isn't as good as the rest of the album... Then there are some good songs like Escape From Within, which starts off a bit slower, but then at about 3 minutes really gets going. Saturday Night Is Alright for Fighting is an Elton John cover and it's executed quite well, Hard On You has got an interesting intro and pre-chorus, Misguided Fortune is a typical Flots' thrasher and P.A.A.B. has a very cool intro and then turns into a pretty cool song. And this is not all. What I have left out are 4 songs which are one of the best I've ever heard. Here they are:
The album starter is No Place For Disgrace. Is it great or what?! An AWESOME intro riff which melts into some good thrashing afterwards. Disgrace is to fight!!! Some great Eric's screams on this one... The song also has that typical Flotsam softer part at about 3 minutes which works really good.
Dreams Of Death is the second song up here. The intro riff is a fucking winnar. One of the best. Ever. No, really, that riff totally kicks ass. Great verse, great chorus, nice solo. Really cool song.
N.E. Terror. This is the best up here. You have to be pretty damn good, to top Dreams Of Death and the title song... And N.E. Terror really is. One of the top 5 verse parts of all time is in this song. As I already said, lyrics are totally lethal. See it for yourself. There are also some really cool bass lines on here.
I Live You Die is a nice thrash song it has a great chorus.
So, this is an essential for all thrash lovers, but I also recommend it to those, who have just started to get into it. It is not that brutal but it still features some awesome riffs and breaknecking speed. An exeptional record, really.
I have to confess that I've always heard everybody talking about the magnificence of Flotsam & Jetsam's debut album, "Doomsday for the Deceiver", and I really think that this fact is mostly motivated by Jason Newsted's pressence on that recording. It's obvious that "Doomsday..." is a basic album in the history of Thrash Metal, but I've always thought that "No Place for Disgrace" was even better.
From the beginning this album totally impressed me with the huge demonstration of musical skills, smart songwriting and controlled speed that shows a fantastic song as the title track. It's obvious that it's an excellent opener. With an epic beginning starts a cazy race for speed metal, with an awesome melodic interlude in the middle of the song, to finish exactly as everything began, "fast as a shark"!.
Then, Erik A.K.'s vocals, without any doubt one of the best singers in the 80's Thrash Metal scene. I''m been a big fan of the typical growling singers, as I'm one of them, but I have to confess that I've always loved this kind of high pitched vocalists in Speed/Thrash Metal bands, as David Wayne (Metal Church), Joey Belladona (do I need to say where you can hear Joey's vokills?), or obviously Erik A.K. For some people more used to hear brutal vocals would be more difficult to get acostumed to Erik's voice, but for all the other people that comes from Heavy Metal (as I do), listening a singer as him in a Speed-Thrash album is a fucking pleasure.
On the bad side I havve to say that I think that the band never recovered from Jason Newsted's departure because, although they demonstrated that they could create really excellent music without him, I suppose that his influence was bigger that just in the songwriting, and they lost a big personallity with his departure to Metallica (hugh!). However we have to recognise that some of the best songs in the album are co-written by Jason Newsted ("No Place for Disgrace", "I Live You Die",..). It's a pitty that Hetfield and Ulrich never used Jason's talent to write music, 'cause I think that Metallica would have had some more quallity music after his incorporation to the band. Hehe, in fact I really think that "No Place for Disgrace" is much better that any Metallica album.
Between the Highlights I will obviously detach the opening track, with its Progressive and Epic feeling between the Thrash Metal madness, the emotion contained in a huge piece as "Escape from Within", the Iron Maiden influences of "I live you Die", "Misguided Fortune" with a similar structure as the title track or "P.A.A.B.", following the traditional use of acronyms in the Thrash Metal titles. But all songs are really excellent. If I even like the cover of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting".
Unfortunately I think that Flotsam & Jetsam was one of the most damaged bands by the music revolution of the early 90's, and they were practically erased from earth's surface by the new trends of the past decade (the same as most of the Thrash Metal bands). But it's obvious that these two albums, specially the one that I'm reviewing right now, will remain as one of the most pure and perfect albums of the late 80's Thrash Metal explotion. I think that they should belong between acclaimed recordings as "Peace Sells...", "Rust in Peace", "The Legacy", "The New Order", "Among the Living", "Bonded By Blood", "Reign in Blood",... and all the Thrash Metal albums that are now considered classics, because they really deserve it. If you like 80's Speed Thrash Metal, don't miss this excellent band.
Flotsam and Jetsam will be eternally remembered as the band that supplied Metallica with a bass player. They should really be remembered for their music. This is the band's magnum opus, never to be approached even distantly ever again.
Flotsam and Jetsam were magnificent songwriters. The title track is a moving account of a disgraced samurai's final moments before absolving himself through suicide. It shows an empathy with the thoughts of such a character. The riffs, from the introduction to the finale, are original and memorable. Some of the subject matter for the remaining tracks on the album is a little lame ("I Live, You Die", "Misguided Fortune"), but even some of the thrash elite at the time were dealing in cheese of the stinkiest vintage at the time (anyone want crackers with Megadeth's "502" and Slayer's "Mandatory Suicide"?). Newstead was one of the main songwriters for the band before his departure, and his creativity, long stifled by the rampant egos in Metallica, shines through here, as he co–wrote the best tracks on the album.
Lyrics aside, the music is near faultless– the Egyptian sounding guitars and bass run on "N.E. Terror" are particularly impressive, the transition from the acoustic introduction to the power ballad–ish feel to the high velocity thrash out of "Escape From Within", the soloing throughout. The twin instrumental tracks, "P.A.A.B" and "The Jones" showcase some stunning riffs and solos without getting self–indulgent. As with many bands of the time, the drummer had a thing for showing his double kick drum prowess. In every song. Constantly. I like it! The production is sharp, clear and heavy.
What put many people off the band were Eric AK's seemingly helium fuelled shrieks. Even Candlemass' Messiah Marcolin would have been hard pressed to hit some of those high notes. Eric AK had strong mid–range vocals, but seemed obsessed with hitting the stratosphere as often as possible.
A definite highlight of the album is a beefed up rendition of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting", complete with shouted backing vocals, a double kick drum barrage, and even a piano!
As a demonstration of the heights thrash could reach at its best, this album is a must own for all dedicated fans of the genre. Unfortunately, the band could never escape from the shadow of a past member.
At first I can't say that i really enjoyed this album, mainly because I wasn't accustomed to a hell of alot of speed/thrash metal. But after awhile this one surely grew on me. Along with Doomsday, No place for Disgrace is a Flotsam and Jetsam classic and Fan favourite in all regards. This attains all the elements that made Doomsday good, and just takes them to a more aggressive level. Phisically speaking this album belongs alongside such albums as Peace Sells, and The New Order, but just isn't recognized by the public. I think that for me is the biggest mind bender - that they havn't really had such a successful career. Always money problems for this talented group of individuals who refused to conform to the norm of metal. For that they have my eternal devotion as a fan and respect speaking as a musician myself. No Place the title track has one of the best riffs ever written. What riff am i speaking of you say? The clean riff in the mid section of the song, just bloody brilliant if i do say so myself. Troy Gregory lends his bass playing abilities on this album and does a fine job filling Newsteads shoes. As you can see in the inner booklet of No Place Newstead contributed writing credits on a number of tracks. Newstead should have stayed with Flotsam for Doomsday showed that he was easily the leader and one of the main attributes that made flotsam what they are.
Dreams of Death is a song that i can never get of out my head, as with N.E Terror, these are landmark tracks that stand the test of time. They even cover Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting by Elton John which is something im sure all of you will get a kick out of. No actually they do quite a good version, no joke. Escape from Within starts of with a clean intro that reminds me of someone waking up from a deep dark dream. The song is almost Epic in its nature but has that doomy edge to it's strike. All of the tracks are well worth a mention or too on here so i won't go to in depth on any of them. I just give you a brief description on what the album is about, and im pretty sure i already gave most of you a pretty good explanation. Basically if you like any of the other Flotsam albums (especially Doomsday or When the Storm Comes down) your going to fucking love this one. If you like Thrash, the same goes with that, you should most likely enjoy the shit out of this boozer party album. There's nothing cleaner or funner than listening to Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting while getting extremely hammered. No Place for Disgrace is a bold statement from Flotsam and Jetsam and you all owe it to yourself to pick it up.
Best Tracks: No Place for Disgrace, Dreams of Death, N.E Terror, Escape from Within, Hard on You, I Live You Die, Misguided Fortune, The Jones