Unnatural Selection Reviews

Review from CMJ New Music Report

In keeping with the theme of its nautical name, "sink or swim" must be Flotsam And Jetsam's never-ending dilemma. The band has changed its label and its lineup (even Jason Newsted was a member before scoring his current Metallica gig!) enough times to make your head spin. Such instability hasn't worn down F&J;'s sound, though. Unnatural Selection finds the Phoenix five-piece maintaining its classic metal vibe with commanding vocals, unpredictable stylistic change-ups and sensual guitar solos, while at the same time catching up with the late '90s by adding punchy power metal riffage. A pounding, relentless rhythm section completes the package.

Amy Sciarretto
Review from Metal Edge Magazine, April 1999

The way the members of Flotsam and Jetsam see it, their band should have broken up by "natural selection." Instead, 15 years after forming, in today's not especially "metal-friendly" climate, Flots are thriving-and striving for more on their latest offering, Unnatural Selection. Guess it proves the old adage that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. In the case of the Arizona-based band's seventh album, two new members now part of Flots' frequently-revolving musical membership can be partially credited for breathing new life into the 10 strong songs and vibe that populates Unnatural Selection.

Vocalist Eric A.K. still spews powerful, unrelenting, intelligent lyrics ("Chemical Noose," "Brain Dead") while new guys Mark Simpson (guitar) and Craig Neilsen (drums) more than ably meld with guitarist Ed Carlson and bassist Jason Ward to provide a solid, fluid backbone for the band's trademark melodic but aggro tuneage.

From 1986's Doomsday for the Deceiver to mid-career offerings like 1992's Cuatro, Flotsam and Jetsam have developed and shifted members while never alienating fans or straying from their roots. On Unnatural Selection, there's nary a stinker song in the bunch. Produced by the band and recorded and mixed by James Lockyer, highlights include "Liquid Noose," a rolicking, memorable, ultra-melodic (almost commercial!) offering that serves up an insinuating chorus that sticks like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth. "Win, Lose or Dead" is another winner, staccato, big sounding drums, strong, melodic vocals and guitar lines, yet more than metal enough to satisfy the purists.

Granted, Unnatural Selection won't change the world, nor will it likely alter Flotsam and Jetsam's rather unexalted place in the metal milieu. Nonetheless, Unnatural Selection is a cool collection from one of rock's most consistent and uncompromising bands.

Katherine Turman

John Forgach from SLUG Magazine (Salt Lake City) here.  Sept. '99 issue. 

Flotsam and Jetsamís latest, UNNATURAL SELECTION has been out since February, but Iím just getting it (Metal Blade Records loves me no more...). Anyway, about damn time! Flotsam and Jetsam rules!! That about sums it up. This band has proven time and time again that they refuse to put out a bad album. UNNATURAL SELECTION is what metal is all about. These guys have been doing pretty much the same thing throughout their long career as a band, but every song they do is unique. It doesnít matter if you look at different albums or songs from the same album, this band knows how to write a song that can stand on itís own.  If you havenít already, check this album out.