The Saturday Metal Review

Flotsam & Jetsam

Cuatro

MCA Records

Released October 13, 1992

In 1992, Flotsam & Jetsam released their fourth studio album appropriately titled Cuatro (meaning the number four in Spanish). There are some ardent thrash fans who believe this album may have been the beginning of the end for the band, but I beg to differ. It’s true that the band was leaning far and away from the thrash template established at the start of their career, but Cuatro streamlined their sound and opened the door for some solid song-writing in the process. In particular Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden fame) who co-wrote the “The Message” with the band; notwithstanding the superior “Swatting at Flies”; which is now a staple in their live shows.

In my mind, Cuatro proved the band had more in mind than just mindless chugging and relentless aggression. Sure the youthful anger might be pulled back some, but mature song-writing and thought provoking lyrics take centre stage here. There is certainly a slight twist of Grunge permeating a track like “Wading Through the Darkness”, but speedy numbers like “Natural Enemies”, “Never to Reveal” and “Hyperdermic Midnight Snack” provides the album with enough of a metallic edge. There’s even a thrashy-groove vibrating through “Are You Willing” and the exclamation point is slammed down on final track “(Ain’t Nothing Gonna) Save this World”; complete with sampling and an experimental approach to song structure.

Cuatro was re-released on May 13, 2008 by Metal Mind Productions with new packaging and liner notes from the band. For my money’s worth, I’m giving this a solid 8 out of 10 and will say the album might be on par with Metallica’s Black Album in terms of rejigging the thrash sound for the 90’s. Some great numbers are: “Natural Enemies”, “Swatting at Flies”, “The Message”, “Cradle Me Now”, “Never to Reveal” and “Hyperdermic Midnight Snack”.

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